Schooling is motherhood and I’ve been broken by my mother.
I was born cautious in the nascent class of 7 ‘B’. I knew how to lie low, how to keep a distance from angry seniors and such who screamed ‘revolution’. I knew how to smile without ever meaning to be friendly, other kids fell for it, just like my own weary self.
I don’t know if it’s apparent but I have a thing for simple people, I always did; for people who don’t understand or those who understand too much. Writing about school is never easy, it’s like wanting to puke and kiss someone at the same time. It’s too much, too little. It’s filled with regrets, things I wish I had done or been, with self-righteous smiles, proud of all the little things that I had the courage to do.
My strongest memories are from my last two years at school – undoubtedly the most difficult. By the end of 12th, I was a broken 17-year-old who’s self-esteem and confidence had taken a hit. From having to come out to myself and my parents while being the apparent ‘good girl’ school had branded me as – it was a match made in Lawrence (a synonym for heaven and hell, I suppose)!
To be completely honest, I was – and perhaps still am – scared of taking a stand, of speaking up, for the fear of being broken. If only I knew then that I will be in pieces regardless of what I did, I’d like to think I’d have done things differently. Sometimes I wonder if anyone could hear how loud my silent screams were, they appeared in the paintings I did in the art room, the songs I sang and wrote, the way I danced on stage, the people I chose to call friends.
Other students had their innocence beaten out of them. It was so damn difficult to navigate the so-called adults’ in Lawrence because they were split into cohorts with completely opposite values (agendas?) and this coexistence of theirs’ was a curse. While one would yell at you for dressing a certain way the other would reassure you that you were doing nothing wrong. BLACK DOT IN THEIR BOOK, HM’S OFFICE,… and the next thing you know – another teacher has resigned. Some of my favorite teachers were the ones who barely lasted a year. And it’s no surprise that most of the obedient ones remained. To add to this, the level of sexism that this place fosters which can apparently be cured by a first time female Head Mistress and a “once upon a time the head girl commanded the parade”, I mean really?
I think it was just too often that the grownups at the high tables forgot that it was for the students that the school was established (though that’s another story in its own right). Lawrence is a conspiracy of silence that survives through humiliation with its head held high, too fucking high, I tell you.
The question that I sometimes asked myself was – who runs this place? The answer as I now understand is – TOO MANY PEOPLE!! Everybody seems to have a say in what’s going on – except the people concerned, i.e, the students of course. And I think I need not explain why the word ‘tradition’ feels so acidic on my tongue now, for it can decompose any argument against the school whatsoever.
But the problem you see is that this is where I learned how to get healed by just looking at trees dancing . This is where I got wet in the cold rain that transports you to where the Nilgiris truly is. This is where I met the man I love so deeply. This is where I first fell in love against myself. This is where I’ve built the most beautiful friendships. This is where I began to sing and write and dance. This is where it all happened.
And therefore the title.