My mother incessantly reminds me of my first interview – the South Point School interview committee for admission to Nursery I . At the age of three-and-a-half.
I was reportedly shown a number of pictures of various objects and asked to name them in English, which I did. My parents were at a distance and could only guess what I had been asked by hearing my answers. However, they said, the last one had me worried. After a good full minute, I replied firmly – ‘boshe boshe snan korche’ – ‘He’s sitting and taking a bath’. That extracted a smile from them, but what took the cake was my reply when I was given a toffee after the interview : “How can we three share one?” – referring to my parents.( More toffees followed.) Assured that this was my undoing, my mother threatened to buy and force-feed me every single toffee and lozenge she could find till we reached home. I guess my father saved the day!
Nursery I – sixteen years ago. Nursery I to me was Oindrila Aunty (who sadly passed away recently), my class teacher. Nursery II was Sriparna Aunty (of Kony fame) and the list goes on and on passing the feared Krishna Aunty and the evergreen Rana Sir upto the end of Junior School, when the focus shifts from 16, Mandeville Gardens to 82/7A, Ballygunge Place.
Of SPS, what can I say? The Art and Craft Exhibition, the Music classes, the ‘movies’ , the playroom to which we were taken once, the activity club I was associated with for a short time, where Kaushik Sen took our classes, the ‘Chheleder Mahabharat’ (not ‘Meyeder’ – unfair!), the ‘Tierra Tierra’ (the name of the history chapter where Columbus’s ‘discovery’ of America as well as the Spanish and Portuguese explorers are detailed) , the taping up of Debarchan’s mouth with paper (an event like that today would have had the teacher suspended…), the carrying of ‘Marble Paper’ (to be bought compulsorily from the school – capitalists kothakar) in matchboxes for an art exam etcetera etcetera etcetera.
But what one realizes now is how important those years were to build one’s character and knowledge base, a strong base in the English and Bengali languages, a solid foundation in mathematics and a fantastic literary culture. These assets of SPS are something everyone should be thankful for. I have heard that recently ‘video learning’ started there, a great addition, but hopefully it will not deprive the next generation of the personal touch one desires. I’m not the Anti-modernist nostalgia-ridden romantic, far from it. (one of the reasons I don’t like Robi Thakur’s Janmantar…
Ami chherei dite raji achhi shushobhyotar alok… tobe nibiye debo nijer ghore shushobhyotar alok.. ami chai na hote nobobonger nobojuger chalok… translated as – I am ready to forfeit the light of civilization… I shall willingly extinguish the light of civilization in my own home…I do not wish to be the harbinger of a new age, a new Bengal… jodi kono jonme hote pari Brojer rakhal balok… If only I can in any life be a shepherd of Brajvumi. )
But I do believe the personal touch rather than the digital touch is sorely needed.