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Well, the results were soon out and it was time for us to hunt for schools to get admission into 11th std. Although my school had 11th std, but it had started just a year ago and my parents didn't want to take a chance. As for me, since none of my friends were staying back, even i wanted to go where everyone was going. But all my friends were going in different directions. I was confused about where to go. Anyways, I applied to all the schools and got shortlisted in a few of them. The odds were heavily stacked against me, as I was coming from I.C.S.E board, for which there were hardly any seats in any of the schools. A few schools would even refuse to give me application forms as they hadn't even heard of I.C.S.E. board.
Swami Vivekanand was one of those schools that realized the potential in me and so I was among the shortlisted candidates there. My name was 11th on the list and there were only 13 or so seats up for grabs in the open category. I was now scheduled to appear for my very first interview ever. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, and so did my parents. The other worrying part was, since my name was higher up on the list than my friends, there was no way I could get any tips.
We reached the school on time, courtesy my Dad. I was lazing around all morning before I was pulled up by my Dad, to get serious about the interview and life in general. It was around 2.30 in the afternoon when the peon called us in and escorted us into the Principal's room. It was rather dark inside resembling a dungeon. The Principal was a middle aged woman with a stoic visage. Due to some odd reason, I didn't particularly like her at first glance. I was used to seeing Sisters in Principal's office. This was the first time in last 5 years, I was looking at a Principal in a Sari. I would have rather addressed her as "Aunty" instead of Miss/Sister/Teacher (had never used the term Madam/Ma'm till then) which got me ever so confused. The Princy's strict demeanor was a bit unnerving which added to the dislike I held towards her.
There were only 2 chairs in the room, facing the Princy. So, where was I supposed to sit? I stealthily looked around the room to find some place to sit. Standing in the middle of the room for this long felt like i was being punished for some felony I committed without my knowledge.
Since, I was busy looking around the room, I didn't pay much attention to the discussion underway between my parents and the Princy. All I noticed was, she waving her arm around a couple of times and suggesting me to come and stand beside her (or so I thought). Suddenly I gazed upon a stool kept right next to the Princy's chair. The stool looked very similar to those kept in clinics where patients are made to sit for examination. I was always thrilled to sit on those stools, as I considered them as the most important pieces of furniture in the clinic, where Mr./Ms Important Patient would sit and thereon would be the center of attention. However, in this cell of hers, she had kept her purse on it which defied the whole purpose of having that stool there.
After she waved her arm a third time, I was almost convinced that, she wanted me to come and sit on that stool. I couldn't help but oblige. I picked up her purse, kept it on the table and sat on the stool. For a moment, I was grateful to her to let me sit. There was a brief moment of gratitude that I held for her, suspended in abeyance, just like a plastic ball held mid air by a strong current of air.
No sooner did I sit on that stool, I heard her yell out at me. I was dumbstruck by her reaction. It was beyond my comprehension, why would someone get so agitated by my mere sitting on a stool. She immediately ordered me to stand up and keep standing. According to her, this was an extreme case of indiscipline that a student would dare to sit in a Principal's office. I was coming from a different planet it seemed, where our Sisters would make us feel comfortable. What mattered then was the purpose that brought us to their office, not the protocol. Here, instead of comforting, I was severely reprimanded in front of my parents, that too in the most acerbic tone. I sprang up to the feet, said sorry, and then didn’t utter a word for the next few minutes. I felt as though, moving one step in any direction would tantamount to committing another felony.
The Princy, then started questioning me about my academics and how I had managed to put up such a show, without revealing whether my performance was good or bad. Although I hardly studied all year, I had to sound studious. After much deliberation, I blurted out "15-20 minutes every day". I was immediately overwhelmed with a sense of guilt for having lied (I don’t feel that way anymore ;)). Those were the days of pure innocence :) The Princy looked startled, and then turned to my parents for confirmation. Dad shook his head and said in a low voice, "Yes, he never studied much!". But, to my utter surprise, she said, "Then, how did he manage to get such good marks". My Dad's face lit up like never before. However, I was still suspicious of her and this sudden bout of niceties that she showered on us. The rest of the discussion went on positive lines, but I was still wounded by those harsh words. She, however, had some tough words for me till the very end, and her plans to reform me and make me study 10 hours a day in 11th and 12th. I was now staring down a dark abyss in which all I could see is the Princy's face with a stick in her hand
After a week, we got a call from the school, that I had been selected for admission. But, by this time, I had collected enough information about the Principal and how strict she was. The kids in that school weren’t even allowed to step outside the class between periods. To add to my misery, I was already in her bad books.
Dad was ecstatic to have received the good news and he was eager to see me admitted there. But I had almost made up my mind to not go to that school. I was so scared of the Principal that even if all hell broke loose, I would not join that school. I conveyed my decision to my dad and he reluctantly delivered the verdict to the Principal. She tried a couple of times to allay my fears, but like a typical Scorpion, I wouldn't step back.
Today, whenever I look back, I laugh about my stupidity and naivety back then.
Back then, I would I would brag about it to my friends, "How on earth does she expect me to RETURN after having fired those volley of abuses at me?" But underneath all that braggadocio, I was shit scared to go to the school.