As I write this, my heart goes out to all the kids who were forced down from the branches of their mango trees; kids who were torn away from the ponds and corner streets; kids who had to leave behind the aromas and tantalizing tastes of their grandma’s cooking. Really, my heart bleeds for you. I remember it like it was yesterday – I would spend those summer days in a frenzy of activity, never stopping to rest until sheer exhaustion just eventually caught up. Those summer nights were even better. We would spend the nights on my grandmother’s terrace counting the stars and listening to the melody of various creatures chirping in the still darkness.Those were the days! We hoped and prayed they would never end.
Then suddenly, like a rude awakening, we would be yanked back to reality. Nothing signaled the end of summer frolic as effectively as the arrival of new uniforms from the tailor’s shop. Then the dismal countdown began – ” 4 more days of freedom”, “3 more days of fun” and things began to look progressively worse. I knew that I would love seeing my friends again but the teachers and homework, I had no trouble missing! Just when my young life would begin to resemble a melodramatic tragic film, my parents would always find a way to turn the whole thing around! You see, a new year at school meant new books and new books needed to be neatly covered in brown paper, labels attached and names neatly printed. My parents, my brother and I would gather in the living room and together as a family we turned this ritual of covering books into a full blown family party! My brother and I would compete for the prestigious role of writing the respective name and subject on the labels. By the end of the night, when all books lay neatly in a pile ready to be packed away into our new school bags, my brother and I would be filled with excitement to get to school! We couldn’t wait to show off our cool new bags and pencil boxes! I still remember the smell of newly sharpened pencils and unused erasers!
Yesterday as I watched my young niece mourn the impending return to school after a fun-filled summer, I avoided her confused look as I sniffed her pencils and smiled!