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February 26, 2024

An Existential Tale of Childhood 3

By Pranab Ghosh

Childhood 1.2

Victor had a protected childhood. His parents initially did not allow him to mingle with the boys of the locality. But as Victor grew up and attained 10 years in age they slowly relaxed the embargo. Victor had a cricketing gear comprising of a bat, three wickets and bells, a couple required to be kept on the stumps and couple of India rubber balls. These items got him many friends in his locality and they came to play with him in the evening. The lane in front of their home used to turn into a cricket field and boys of his age and those a tad bigger than him played the game. But, first things first.

We will tackle the existential question whether to allow children to mingle with local boys who basically loaf around for most part of the day, at a very tender age or whether what Victor's parents did was the correct way. Let Victor grow up to that age when his parents allowed him to mingle with local boys; then we will tackle the question. Now, we will see how Victor attained that age and what he faced and what he learned in school that made him more or less a strong boy capable of mingling and tackling same age crowd going to local schools and not privileged as Victor to get English medium education.

One day in school Victor particularly remembers. He was in nursery then. One day he had an upset tummy. The bowels leaked like anything and put Victor in an extreme uncomfortable situation. He had to go to the loo thrice even when the classes were going on. He had to use the toilet couple of times, if not more in between classes and when he was waiting for the school bus to take him home. Victor had never experienced such a thing. Once it happened when he had fever, a year or so ago; Victor could faintly recollect, but then he used to be at home and his mother took absolute care of him. But now, all alone in school with no one to go to barring the teachers, to whom he, the shy boy that he was, did not go for help; he did not even tell the attendants either. He decided to manage it alone. And he managed it well.

The first motion completely took him unaware where he almost dirtied the pants. He knew later on that it was dysentery. He semi-washed the pant and made it wearable. However, wet pants are a bother and anyone could see through. Some of his friends joked whether he had peed in the pants. He took one of them into confidence so that the leg pulling would stop and it stopped. One of the teachers noticed the wet pant and asked Victor to take help of the attendant. He had no extra pants with him and at attendant's suggestion un-tucked his shirt and covered the wet pant to the extent possible. The attendant asked him to tell his mother to give him a change to keep in his bag for such eventuality. Victor's mother could not entirely be blamed. She was a young mother and it slipped out of her mind that she should mentally ready the child for any such eventuality. Childhood is a period when just you do not learn but your parents learn too along with you.

However, that day Victor reached home in one piece, looking apparently happy to have managed such an uncomfortable situation with relative ease. He was afraid the teachers would scold him but that did not happen. Moreover, they were all sympathy and help, which made Victor love his school even more. He realized even when mother is not around, there would be someone to assist in school if he became unwell there. Only he will have to seek help. He learnt early that help comes when sought. It may come on its own but that you will have to leave to chance.

When his parents and granny heard the entire tale of Victor's endurance they called him a brave boy. Victor's mother said that he should have called up the neighbour's number and asked them to ask her to pick him up early from school. The school authorities also could not know the extent of Victor's illness as he did not tell them how many times he used the toilet. His mother counted that it was eight times he had been to the loo to take care of his leaking bowel. Treatment started immediately. He was given plenty of saline water to drink to take care of the fluid loss through the day. His father took him to the doc, who explained to him what needs to be done to handle such a sudden attack of dysentery. Victor became a boy better informed.

Childhood 1.3

One afternoon after school hours while Victor was waiting for the school bus, a senior girl was munching on her leftover lunch. Victor was feeling a bit hungry as he stood close to the girl and observed her eating with such great attention that she hardly felt the presence of Victor. As Victor stood in front of the girl, a boy of his class tiptoed behind him and whispered in his ears, "I will push you from behind and you will fall on her; there would be great fun." Victor was about to protest and dissuade him from pushing Victor from behind. But before he could really react, the boy pushed and Victor was all over the girl, with her lunch box flying to the corner of the room; by that time she had completed her lunch, so no food was wasted.

The over-smart boy who did the mischief made a coy face and told the shocked senior girl that everything was Victor's idea and it was at his behest that he had pushed Victor. The girl was furious and rushed to the Principal's room and lodged a complaint against Victor and the boy. The two were immediately called. The boy stuck to his false story and the angry Principal chastised Victor and wanted to write to his parents.

Victor was in a pathetic state. But his class teacher arrived in time and saved Victor the letter to his parent from the Principal. The over-smart boy apparently had done something similar earlier and the class teacher knew that, moreover, she knew how the boy was and his track record in school. She bought Victor's defense. The boy was duly punished and as Victor was a victim of circumstances and was chastised for nothing, the Principal compensated by offering him chocolate and patted his back. Victor was a relieved boy as he boarded his school bus that had been detained for 10 minutes because of this incident.

In this case, Victor was distinctly lucky as at the class teacher's behest the initial ruling against him was overturned and justice was done. But it is not necessary that a teacher would always intervene like an angel at the right time. Therefore, how could the school bully be coped with?

How could bullies and mischievous fellows like the over-smart boy be dealt with? Victor apparently had no prior knowledge of it as he had never faced such an incident before. But now he is more experienced. He knows even if he is scolded by someone who is not in the know of the things, he must endure it and either wait for justice to happen or take steps to hasten its process. Had that letter been sent, his parents definitely would have contacted the class teacher and things would have come to light, and justice, though late, would have been done. Therefore, one must not take things egotistically and take a tough stand even when one is right. Staying open and staying calm can and will do the trick as it did in case of Victor.

Article © Pranab Ghosh. All rights reserved.
Published on 2019-12-30
Image(s) are public domain.
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