Monday, July 16, 2007


(Disclaimer: Anybody who did not go to my school will find this post a place to bang their head on)

It's 2 in the afternoon, but it seems like late evening. Dark clouds have collected outside, and my blue curtains are shrouding any of the light that dares to enter through the window. The ayah has just dumped a heap of washed-three-days-ago-but-dried only-now clothes on my bed and I'm sitting on the edge of it, looking at an orkut page that remains open from last night. From there through a long thought cloud, I end up at a picture of we, the 'SSPVTZ' in school. Yeah, that's what we used to call ourselves.

A strange picture it is, more so because I don't look like myself or anybody I should look like. I have almost double the hair (screw you, you Intermediate education!)and well, I look like a dwarf. Maybe I still do, but a much older dwarf, who people usually find a little unsettling and then either continue feeling that way or decide to make me their (favourite?) pet. The six of us are standing, with arms draped around either others' shoulders and waists. I'm at one end, with one hand resting on my waist, like I might pull away any minute and an intelligible smile on my face. T's arm is around my shoulder and her eyes are squinting. There seems to be a breeze, my hair is blown across my forehead. S seems to be bent a little under the weight of her neighbours, or maybe she's just being her quirky self. Her neighbour gives her usual self-possessed looks, the only one of us who never fell prey to the fold-your-socks-or-you're-so-uncool-fad. Standing beside her, tall as always, is P. Just looking at her pose now tells me that we should've known, she'd be breaking hearts soon. Sigh, her height is to-die-for. And then at the end is V, with her gleeful smile and a pose of her own. We're standing near the school gate and blocking the view of the college canteen, that we frequented often for curry puffs and icecream. There was a fat lady there, very lipsticked and very fussy. I can, for some reason, smell the sand in the playground. Reddish and that would instantly stick to the exposed part of your folded socks. So the next day, you would fold them the other way, so you didn't have to change them too often. Well, at least I did :D. Folded socks were quite crucial to our school lives. I remember the fuster mumbling about it one day, and maybe the grandestmother must have too, but no, how would we survive school without folded socks? Even now, when I wear socks, my natural instinct is to fold them down and give them a nice pat. And I do, even though only I can see them. It's become like a compulsive disorder. Rolled down socks and unfolded/unrolled socks were looked down upon like an ugly disease. And I think very few people then, actually bothered about waxing their legs and all that. Now the school's gone to dogs, where 'seconds' and 'thirds' are the norm, girls dress the way they want to and teachers from olden times, only reminisce about the good old days when schoolgirls were schoolgirls. I haven't thought about school in a long time, till 8th, it never mattered. I don't even remember much. It was in 9th and 10th that all the fun started with SSPVTZ. The first dirty jokes shared, the first initiation into crushes, the first 'dra-mah-tization', one of which was a roaring success among the six of us, but didn't elicit a single line of appreciation from the class, though that didn't unnerve us a bit. The petty things that became life-or-death issues. The importance of badges, the Prince store or the Raja stores, from where I used to buy Rs.2 stickers for my sticker collection - most of them were the - 'Love is two hearts sharing and caring' type, Hallmark stickers were rare acquisitions. Still have a bunch of them unopened. The treats at the Softy Den, the family size pizza eaten with the 'auto-mates', screaming songs at passesrby, emptying water bottles on them (and one of them got onto his scooter and chased after our auto, screaming that someone had spat on him) - twas our very own Candid Camera. Peeking through the hole in the gate to order curry puffs from the shop across the road, Vishal's. I think someone found Vishal cute too. Sports days, with March Pasts and sitting in the sun all day. Trysts with the internet, not to be spoken of without some embarrassment. In spite of all the jokes (that S was the queen of ;), hehe, don't get mad at me now!), there was innocence and a LOT of laughter. Of course there were tears and fights, but I think that was the first time that I realized I loved being with people who could make me laugh. Which also partly explains my 'crush' on S. It was funny how we fooled her, when she'd joined, straight from a school in Dubai ... pointed out the 'scouts and guides' in their blue uniforms and said 'Those girls have to clean bathrooms, that's what all new girls have to go. You'll too' and the typical exaggerated horrified look on her face. We were standing in the quadrangle then, during the assembly, still in 9th class. In 10th, we got to stand in the 'balcony', and look down at the proceedings like royalty. Of course, our nails and 'plats' had to be checked after that. Then there was Mrs. Emmanuel, always looking like she'd smeared cake on her face, the powder most obvious all around her neck. Walking in with 4 peons holding her bags, an umbrella. A girl from the 5th class being punished in the assembly because she'd done a 'Look can you see that dinosaur?' type April Fool joke with her highness.

It all wants me to go back and visit school, even though many of my favourite and not-so-favourite teachers have left. Take in that peculiar sandy smell again, an imagined whiff of which resulted in this post.


blister said...

School was so fun, but every time i went back again, it was so painful. i guess the school spirit is made up of all the people who are there at that time.... u go back later and feel like a complete stranger. remember the fat unhygeinic lady who used to sell 'chholey' (probably flavored by her sweat and fat - ughhh) it filty red, green and orange plastic bowls? and fakhruddin - the gate-keeper?

Argentyne said...

yeah, remember everyone. Fakhruddin had changed to a strict, lathi wielding Nepali when I was in 9th I think. Why would it be 'painful' though?

Sudha said...

Aw, I saw your post only now.

And first off: I can't believe you used to have a 'crush' on me!

I'm never going to let you forget that. :P

And yeah, SSPVTZ is a stupid name (I guess everyone goes through the 'naming the gang' phase once in their lives) but I still stick to it, for nostalgia's sake. =)

Your description of the photo in question made me go back and look at it again, just to see if your perception of it and mine matched at all.

They kinda did.

And the socks! OMG, YES. I do still fold them down, I am now physically incapable of wearing unfolded socks. A causalty of schoolyard fashion. How depressing is that? ;)

The dramatizations: yes, I remember 'practising' behind the water tank--and the whole of the 'B' section (I remember Juveria, in particular) staring down at us from their classroom windows like we'd lost our collective minds.

I find it funny now that we really didn't care that no one liked it except for us.

And I still haven't forgiven you for that damned Scouts and Guides thing. Grr.

We should visit school again, one of these days.

Anonymous said...

oh my god simeen! yuu must rename this as contagious nostalgia because im haveing bouts of it from the moment i read this. well said!