He stands there gingerly. At the door to the classroom.
He remembers the usual way. He would walk in and turn right, stopping just before, just for a split second, to smile and wave good bye, and he would disappear into the crowd of little people making their way to their classrooms. It was like he was in auto-pilot. He would walk straight and turn left, and the first classroom, was his. There inside would be Lavanya Miss, she with the beautiful dimpled smile. Only he didn’t have the vocabulary yet to describe that. But he knew what it felt like when someone smiled genuinely at him, and he liked the way she smiled at him and welcomed him to the classroom. Such a short life, such deep memories. He couldn’t describe this either.
But he felt today was different. His mother didn’t drop him off at the gate, but walked along with him. She was in fact asking directions, and after little walking, which confused him, and he didn’t know left from right, and where the entrance was, she led him to his new classroom. He stood at the door gingerly…
Routine was so comforting. You don’t need to put thought into it. Every day at 6 am, an internal alarm would go off. And she would wake up, no matter what day, no matter where she was, be it home, or in a hotel on a vacation. And she knew what to do. Pack child off to school, get ready and leave for office, throwing in some house hold chores in between. It was smooth.
She would take the same route every day. That’s how she could listen to music and drive. At work, she liked to know what to expect. She always prepares her work day one day in advance and plans so she could leave at 6 PM everyday.
Familiar faces, familiar language, familiar everything. It was bliss.
But today she stands on the thresholds of change, a subtle change and she looks at it with glint in her eyes, but only the glint is that tear, hidden away for fear of society
He didn’t know why he had to get into this strange place. The faces were all new. There was no Lavanya Miss and this new lady wasn’t even smiling. And where was Karthika, she who brings Lays chips every day, she who listens to his tall stories, and she again who smiles from her heart. Where was Karthikeyan, he who always fought with him. It wouldn’t occur to his little heart that he missed even what he despised. It was all so strange. And suddenly his mother was asking him to get in and sit down.
What’s with all these people?
Suddenly she finds herself in a new job. One she had chosen herself. A change she had sought. It should be exciting, shouldn’t it? She tried to convince herself. She looked at the mirror and smiled at herself and said a “Yay!” to all new beginnings, and with a deep breath she set forth.
Behind all that cheerfulness, there was fear of the unknown. Fear, that tried to seep through her eyes.
HE walked into the classroom. He was asked to sit in a place. The bench and chair was to be shared with another child, whose name he did not know. All the children were quiet like little dolls in kolu. He found it so stifling, he could take it no longer and cried – “Amma don’t leave me and go. Amma please!”
She starts her two wheeler and drives on in the hot sun. There is music playing in her ears and she takes a right turn that she usually takes. And stops, after driving in that direction for five minutes. This was how she drove for 6 years. Today is different and she realizes that. She turns around and starts driving in the opposite direction.
It was not even afternoon, and it was already like a year for him. He couldn’t wait for the bell to ring. It rings four times usually. Unless that too has changed.
He had to just pull through the intermediate time. And he realizes as time progresses that it isn’t too bad, and he might actually consider coming here tomorrow. They sing familiar rhymes. Yes, familiar rhymes in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people.
The bell rings. He can’t believe he pulled it through already. He sees that familiar face appear through the window.
“Amma” he screams in joy.
She has reached the new office. She has worn her best outfit and she thought she looked professional. She had to ask for directions once, but the directions were bang on, and so she reached earlier than she had anticipated. She didn’t know where to park, and this in an IT Park. She had to wear her ID card, prominently. She didn’t have one yet, so she got a one day pass.
All the while her mind travels back to walking in to the earlier office without an ID card. She knew everyone there. Her face was her ID card.
This place was huge. Hoards of people using all means of transportation to get through its gigantic gates. She walks up to her current employer’s office. There are others like her, but in all shapes and sizes and ages. In walks the on-boarding executive. Surprise! She realizes that the on-boarding executive is a familiar face – same college.
She finally smiles.