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School, studies, few friends, home and family, that was her entire world and she loved it. Growing up in a small hill station town in an almost undiscovered part of the country, life was simple for her. There was never a moment when she wanted to be someone else. She loved who she was and the people that formed part of her life. That’s childhood, probably, untouched by the banalities and cruelties of life.
Sometimes I wonder if an experience is a good or a bad thing. Isn’t it but experience that makes us cynical in life? Anyways.
So going back to her again. She had always led a sheltered life. Her dad would drop her to school every morning. Or, she would walk through the picturesque lanes with her mother and sister to school. Protected and sheltered probably is the word for the life she led. She never stayed out alone after dark like some of the other youngsters. And she never felt like she missed something because of that. Being at home was what she liked the most. Surrounded by her books, comforted by the sounds of her mum finishing chores around the house was her idea of a perfect day. In fact, it wasn’t until junior college that she started going out with friends alone. And even then when everyone would bunk classes to watch a movie or go to a restaurant, she would run back home to be with her mum. She was a simple girl, uncomplicated and honest.
One day when she was in the 7th standard her headmistress called her to the office and asked her to go with two teachers to take part in an essay competition. She wanted her to represent the school. So off she went in a taxicab with her teachers which I should tell you she hadn’t used until that point in her life.
The essay competition was to be held for two hours, so her teachers left her there with a Rs. 5 note which the headmistress had given. This so that she could come back to school in a shared cab. The teachers left and the competition began as she got busy with writing.
Satisfied with what she had written, it was time to go back and that’s when she was in a dilemma, probably a bit scared too. She had never used public transport alone up until then. So she stood there at the taxi stand for a while contemplating what to do. But after a while, she decided to walk back to school. Maybe she was scared and hesitant to take a cab alone not because there was any danger per se but because she had never gone anywhere alone.
She walked through the spiralling roads lined with pines, climbed steps and crossed roads she hadn’t before to finally reach school after walking for about 30 minutes. After entering the school, she didn’t go straight to her classroom. Instead, she went to the Headmistress’ office and handed her the Rs. 5 note. When asked she explained that she came walking so she was returning the money which hadn’t been used.
Now, maybe she had led a little too much of a sheltered life. And maybe she was stupid to have not taken the cab. But do you know what I liked, no loved most about her? Her honesty.
She didn’t have to give back the money but she did. The thought of not giving it back didn’t even cross her mind. And she was like that always. She never lied, shared all her knowledge willingly and stressed if unknowingly she ended up hurting someone.
Once she during exams she had forgotten to tell her friend to study a chapter. That whole night she felt guilty even if this was a friend who had on several occasions before given her wrong information to score more. But she wasn’t like that. She didn’t rest till she went early to school the next day and sat with that friend explaining her everything on that chapter. So, again, I loved that about her.
I miss that girl. I miss her. I miss being her. I wish I could go back to being her again. Life is so complicated that now sometimes I even lie, frequently judge people and even don’t willingly share everything I know. I hate that a pure soul was contaminated by everything that is life, by experience. I hate that I’m not that simple and completely honest like I was before. Though even now I don’t take what is not rightfully mine but that honesty was something else and I miss it.
What is it about yourself from your childhood that you miss these days?