It took some time to register. It was all quite blurry at first, but then the fog faded away, and everything became crystal clear.
But it was too late. By then, it was all over.
I remembered how on day one, all that my conscience would allow me to do was cry. Everything was new back then. The institution, the infrastructure, the people. I knew that it would take me an ample of time to adjust to these unknown surroundings, but I knew that with the perfect amount of effort, I would ‘fit right in’. And though I knew this, a fear lingered in the corner of my mind. A fear that envelops every child’s mind on Day One of school. The fear of rejection. Gathering all the scattered hope that I could find in my mind, I stepped through the gates, into the academy that would serve as my second home for the years to come.
Seven years down the line, that fear seemed pretty whimsical. The girl that was terrified of rejection had basked in the glory of acceptance. It wasn’t easy initially, but it never is, is it? She had persevered, and she had won. She had met tons of new people that she knew would stand by her side forever. She had broken out of the initial impoliteness and made friends. She had transformed the crucial moments into victorious memories. She had relished the time that she was given.
To hear, seven years sounds like a very long time. But to me, not so much. I sat there in the examination hall, absent-mindedly thinking of the years in the past, as the clock ticked forward, minute by minute, into the future. There were fifteen minutes left for the bell to ring, the bell that would end the writing time of my final paper, but that quarter of an hour before the bell was enough time for me to realize that my school life was over.
The wake up calls accompanied by my mother’s shrieks because I was late for school would not wake up the rest of the people in the house anymore. The five floor climbs up to my classroom would never be repeated. The warmth in the good morning hugs wouldn’t be felt again. The morning assemblies would never be a part of my day. The fun in the classrooms would never be with the same people again. The pathetic attempt at jokes, 5 minutes before an important paper, wouldn’t brighten up our tense mood anymore. The incredible bond between each class teacher and her or his students would be lost somewhere, though it shall always remain.
My mind carried me through the unparalleled joys of these seven years. The memories of formation of new friendships, those that were still sensitive, but over the years, would prove their might. It reminded me of the simple yet deep fact that nobody has sole right over the food in their lunchbox. After all, “Sharing is Caring.” It took me through the rough days, in which we divided the tedious labor of last minute homework, or when the whole class pitched in to finish an unfair punishment assignment given to a single child. It showed how hard we worked, when it came to preparation for events like the Annual or Sports Days, and how, on the other side of the coin, we were so utterly lazy in putting in the same effort to finish academic tasks. It brought forward the songs that we sang so loud that the teachers came and joined us, instead of stopping us. It recaptured the delight of tours that took us to stunning places, and every other fine detail that these seven years would have been incomplete without.
It was bliss.
I almost relived my school life in those fifteen minutes.
The moment I had dreaded arrived. A tear slipped out from the edge of my eye, and as if on cue, the bell rang. From behind me, I heard dozens of my friends let out a breath of relief, but at the same time, I heard a couple of breaths hitch. I wasn’t alone.
That, was all it took.