...and then

Monday, 5 April 2010

I never want to be a high-schooler again

High school was a terrible time for me. Perhaps, all of school was a painful time for me. Now when I hear people say school days were the best days of their lives, I wonder what I missed out on, because, truly I will not have another childhood. Or at least one that will take me to high school.

I have absolutely no bonds with school friends that I cherish to this day. They are all bonds that are at most pleasant. I wouldn't make efforts to go to their weddings, or cross the country to go visit them. I am just not that kind of a girl.

High school was traumatic for me because I didn't fit in. Or maybe I didn't let myself. I wondered about all these confident kids at school who were at best mediocre at everything they did but had tons of self-esteem which made them look like they were fantastic. I was always diffident about any skill I had and while I was not exactly a shrinking violet in school, it would have been easy to play on my deep and large insecurity had anyone wanted. 

I made strange friends, kind friends, friends who accepted me, friends who were only willing to believe the worst of me as and when it suited them. Like everyone else, I made all sorts of friends. This, then, is a tribute to those who will remain in my memory, some of them in my friends, forever.

Sangeeta Mohandas: She was quiet, shy and yet she was the one who sought out where I lived when I first came to Muscat, visited me and forged a relationship of a life time. She, as were a lot of kids in my class, was trained to think that anyone who didn't do well in maths and science (me!) wasn't worth knowing. She was  trained to think she would only be successful if she were a doctor or an engineer. 
And even though she was unlike any of my friends in India, who were all boys, we hit it off, even as she tried to get me to shed my rambunctious behaviour and turn me into a girl.
Today she is a successful mother of a 6-year-old who has shed her conditioning, with a degree in home science and with a personality that I enjoy. She also lost tremendous amounts of weight in the last two years and looks a completely bomb. Complete inspiration for me.

Hetal: I forget his last name. I know, it's terrible. But he taught me that boys can be gentle, and sweet. And that it was okay to be a girl. I don't remember specific conversations but I know this boy stuck in my memory because he was different.

Anuj Kapadia: My first humongous crush. I think this guy was born sensible. Apart from that, here's why I had this crush. He has dimples, he sang (I think. My obsession with men who sing started very early, as you can see), he was good at everything he did and always polite, but with a healthy dose of irreverence, which, by the way, has snowballed into the cheesiest, most corny sense of humour today. 
Here's an example: Recently my status line on FB said, I continue maintaing that I am a flake. 
Anuj's comment: Does that make Ben Afleck your sister?
Today, he has a PhD in some really complicated (for me) aspect of radiology, which he patiently explained to me once and which I am utterly incapable of reproducing here. All I can say is I think what he does will not waste too much water or use up too much plastic. He is also seriously warm, intelligent, doesn't let any opportunity for a joke pass by and totally wholesome.
And so great was my embarrassment at the crush that I signed his autograph book (in class 7 or 8) as "your loving sister," as the asswipe reminds me every chance he gets.   

Harshita Nair: She was my best friend through school. She saw me through a lot. She was one of those confident ones. She could dance, she could sing, she could do maths, she looked and was super nice, she made prefect, she was hugely popular, I suspect she even won a supporting best actor award for an inter-house dramatics competition. And at times, I felt inadequate around her but loved her enough to not be envious. 
She could eat two really big BurgerKing burgers, every day, and remain svelte, she spoke way more than the average number of words per minute and she taught me that it was possible to be talented and not be snooty about it. I will be ever thankful for her friendship through school.
Today, I am not sure we are best friends, or even friends. She has a decent career going, she's done all the right things for her timeline: marriage, husband, bought a house, built a career, travelled abroad. But in my eyes, and I am being very judgemental so forgive me, she hasn't reached the promise she shone with. And I always wonder what happened to that real firecracker I knew in school when I look at this now mellow person. 

Seema Vijayan: We were never friends. I think I put her off the minute I entered class. My impression of this girl -- apart from being someone who was good at academics -- will always be of a really big girl with many grey strands in her thick long hair, someone who was a fantastic orator. The lines "I thrice presented him a kingly crown, which he did thrice refuse" from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar where Mark Antony speaks on JC's death will never belong to anyone but Seema and her strong emphatic voice.
But she sticks in my mind for another reason altogether. In hindsight, I realise this girl had absolutely no sensitivity to anyone other than her friends; in fact, I am inclined to think she was a bit of a bully. In school, I happened to mention to a girl that one of our classmates had serious body odour issues. Then, I didn't have courage to go up to her and tell her it is offensive to others around her, as I do now. So I mentioned it to someone else. This rat told the girl in question who quickly cried to her group, which included Seema. And the bully she was, she came down on me at the basketball court, gaggle of girls backing her up, sticking her finger in my face and saying she knew the "minute she set her eyes on me that I was not to be trusted". 
Dude, come on. 
I don't know what she does today but I do know she checked out my Orkut (when it was active) page a couple of times. When I saw her on my visitors list, I in the silly grown-up way I have, was very thrilled with this blast from the past and sought to add her. What do you know, she ignored it. Nice. 

HM: I am only going to have her initials on here because I know some people who read my blog know her and I don't want any uncomfortable situations for her. She and a few others, if they read, will know immediately who she is. 
What can I say about this girl? She was a true-blue Scorpio. She had a glamour, a mystique that very few tweens or even teens have. She wielded considerable influence over anyone who was vulnerable enough to let her. She had an elder sister, so was privy to much information that duds like us didn't. She was and still is very nice to look at, was loaded with personality and brought yum Gujju food to school. When we bonded, we bonded real tight but when she decided to move on she sort of broke my heart for a year. The loss and the humiliating way I was dealt it scarred me some. But a year later, or two, I realised shit happens. And when I grew some sense, I realised it was entirely her loss because, you know, I am a kickass friend. My lesson from there? A certain wariness of Scorpios, which by the way is unfair because they're a good bunch of people and I don't take the zodiac thing so seriously anymore.
Today, she lives in Dubai with a career I hope she enjoys; her FB status messages tell me her life is full and her marriage good. And her story won't be complete if I didn't say that after 15 years she took the initiative to call and chat, which I thought was sweet. 

If I have enough readers, please feel free to take this up as a tag and tell me about some people in school you'll never forget. 

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Blogger The Coffee Cup said...

Ah school...and I definitely fall in that group who've often told you 'Oh how I miss those school days'. ANd yes some of the strongest and most lovable friendships came from school...and still remain so. Someday when my memory is on rewind more, I'll pen down my school day-moments.
Some of them, I swear, sound like long lost twins of some people you've mentioned here. Maybe we could bring the family together :)

6:59 am  
Blogger deepa ravi said...

Ah I remember my middle school being more or less what you said. Because I sort of didn't fit it. I only scored in languages - Hindi and English. The rest I was a dud. (continue to be!). So yeah...I was to be shunned. So like you say no sweet memories and no lifetime friendships there. But high school was better. I shifted to an all gals school and actually had fun. Met a cool friend who could burp and fart at will but could not do maths sums. Made me feel great! So yeah I do keep in touch with these cool pals of mine. And I guess given a chance I would like to go back and change a few things. Like making those bonds a little stronger....

7:47 am  
Blogger Rithu`s Dad said...

The title should have been the other way around? Isn’t it? You have earned quiet some people in the list of your good friends and of course some not. The great learning of age and people that only comes from experience, even now you have something to recollect back and remember all of those including the ones who still maintains the "bullying" even after 15 years in them?.. What's life without the high school episode?? may be nothing.

Friends are for making and of course breaking, but there is really a purpose when they come in your life, the best part of is, we realize it much later. .. some times after we broke with them.. !!! That's life isn’t it?? Will try and scribe some of those schooling days & friends .. But for that first I have to make a blog for my own in English.. lets see!! Keep writing.. you have lot of followers, although the comments are from only few 

10:26 am  
Anonymous Chinkurli said...

I've always wondered if I'm the only one who felt that way. I wasn't one of those cool kids, nor was I one of those extremely studious ones, so I didn't really fit in, except with one gang, and they're mere acquaintances to me today. In college and PG, I did enjoy myself. I met a lot of like-minded people and they're some of my closest friends today :)

1:38 pm  
Blogger Sumira said...

Hey, I like the header image of your redesigned blog. I keep wanting to change my blog design, but nothing seems to reflect me better than that boring old white background. :)

Nice post. I don't think I have the nerve to write about my school friends the same way. Actually, I had a fun time in school because I found a wonderful bunch of friends. The gang is spread across the globe now but we are in touch. On the rare occassions that we do meet, we easily pick up from where we left off. But yeah, we do realise that this is not a common phenomenon. Most people I know don't form these kind of strong bonds in school.

2:03 pm  
Blogger Abhipraya said...

:) inspired me to my post on school. But I loved my school days.

2:49 pm  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

Chinkurli: So you know exactly what I am talking about :) The thing was I didn't want to be in the cool kids' group, I didn't want to be in the smart ones', I just wanted to have the courage to be me without being friendless. Of course, I see all this only in hindsight.
Sumira: Even as I wrote this post, I felt the familiar knots of tension that I feel when I lay myself bare, more so when others are involved. This post is a personal exorcism for me. And you know what I discovered about the blog design? I surfed through tons and found elements that I liked. I may have not been able to adapt most of those elements but I was very happy with the way it turned out. In fact, I think it grew on me even though it might not reflect all of me. So go ahead and make the change before life gets one more baby busier :)
Abhipraya:Most people I know love their school days :( Maybe I was just a negative person? Let me know when you do the post.

3:41 pm  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

Sree: You're one of those :P And I am all for reunions. Bring out your bunch I say. Let me know when you do the post.
Deepa: I enjoyed almost all subjects except maths and even in science, I did bloody well at biology and moderately well in physics but failed chemistry. Other than that, I did reasonably well in every other subject. Also like I said, I was no shrinking violet, in fact quite the opposite; but I just was uncomfortable you know? Never happy and secure.
Rithu's Dad: Welcome. I visited your blog and because I don't read Tamizh, missed everything that you had written, presumably, about your little girl.
Actually, I wouldn't exchange my highschool experience for anything in the world, but that doesn't mean I was happy with it :)
Also, the fact that I have recollections from then is a function of memory, don't you think, rather than the indelible mark of pleasant experiences?
I made my best friends in college and early adulthood. My school friends are only charming because we have a shared childhood. Thank you for the kind words, it's heartening to know I have more people reading me than those who comment. :)

4:09 pm  
Blogger Abhipraya said...

Quill, this ought to be the fastest update from me. I had to do it before I lost the enthu :)

5:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

okay, that was so nice. you even wrote nice things about people who obviously pissed you off. anyway, i want to do this too. but maybe with my friends from undergrad school instead :)
see you around!

4:04 am  
Blogger Judy Balan said...

OK, I couldn't agree more. I feel super lost when people start gushing about school days or going back and doing it all over again. I can't for the life of me, imagine going through school again. In fact, when I look at little ones (even my own), I feel sorry that they still have so many years to go, to get to where I'm happily perched.

Phew. But nice tag-type post. Except I suck at writing stuff like this. I find anything even remotely senti and deep, exhausting, these days. Which is probably because I ODed on all things dark and deep, till 26. Shew! I really am living life backwards.

10:53 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

Abhipraya: Well done! :)

currpan: I love ur handle. I am not pissed off at those people any more, you know. Perhaps that's why I could objectively do this. Looking forward to your post

Judy: Hahah, I am the one living life backwards, darling. Most people get rid of their angst much earlier in life. 30 is time for flippancy and flakeyness:P I, like you, should have got this out of my system and then proceeded to talk about frou things.
And since more than one person refuses to gush about their school lives here, I think there's a conspiracy to make school look better than it actually is. :P

11:06 am  
Blogger Nima said...

Nice to meet a blogger from Muscat.

I was trying to recall my school days after reading this...i cannot figure out which category i'm in...but i don't have any contact with any of my school friends...

but yes i'm in touch with atleast half of my college mates...i think friendship during the childhood wasn't very strong...and for my case i was very introvert in school...

nice thought provoking post...

11:40 am  
Blogger notgogol said...

Ok so omanwoman I read your last few pieces. But I am at a loss for words; maybe I haven't had similar experiences so can't say much. I think I will come back sometime later.

But I was here, and I read and all and I will come again :)

P.S. New template nice!

9:40 pm  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

Nima: Welcome to the blog! There are lots of us blogging in Muscat you know. Thanks for your kind words on this post as well as the crochet post, Nima. Honored, you're such a prolific sewist yourself! Wow.
notgogol: Ah! I was wondering if all the serious randomness on this blog had put readers like you off, you know all you funny guys :P So I am glad you wrote what you did. Thanks! Actually my past few posts have been either very personal or very girly :) Template's nice na? Even I like.

8:15 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow!! i never thought i would warrant a post on me....that too when i was in school...
I really thought i was the most ordinary person around in school and yes i did take full advantage of the fact that i had an elder sister...
i used to love the cheese-tomato sandwiches u got! i never could make mine that way...in fact to this day i cannot!
Hind sight's a bitch...and i have to to say that i have thought those same words...it was my loss that i lost a friend like u...i actually did mention this to my Sis... and to see those exact words on you blog comes as shocker...
I don't mind sayin this... but yes.. we were really good friends and due to my folly i lost a relationship that i know would have lasted through our lives...
I am glad u picked up the phone that day to speak to me...i don't know if i would have done the same...
Babe...you should have put my name...and since u have not..i will.. :p
Hilma Mandavia-Mannige

3:04 pm  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

Hilma: Ah! Hilma, I presume you found this through my Facebook update. Would you believe me when I tell you that I totally forgot you were on my friend's list?! Thank you for the comment. And it takes a strong person to say what you said. Like a friend said, this comment totally made this post meaningful and worthwhile. And oh, I am very touched.

5:18 pm  
Anonymous sutz said...

School had its share of ups and downs.. thats for sure. Some friends we made last for a lifetime and some you loose touch with. Sure we weren't the best of friends.. but there was always a healthy respect mutually. And thats the reason, after so many years, we still add each other on our friends list and take the time out to check up on whats happening in each others life. Sometimes friendships develop and endure without you even realising it. The only time you can test it is when in trouble... and when that time does come, you can most definately give me a shout.. :)

3:53 pm  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

Sutz: That's a most lovely comment :) Thanks so much, and you can expect me to take you up on your word :) Thanks, again.

12:17 pm  
Anonymous roop said...

ima scorpio


8:22 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

Roop: Notice, I said they're perfectly decent :D I am glad you still come around :)

11:46 pm  

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