A Facebook friend from where I come from shared the latest pictures of the primary school that I attended in late nineties. Just seeing it brought me back all the good (and bad memories) that I had during seven years of my early and initial school life. Though it has changed and evolved with new structures over the time, I still feel it the same, the memories suddenly pops in. It was at this school that has all the beginnings of my life- education and life as a whole.
I was put into boarder life from class II, aged 7 and was beginning of the start of real experiences and characters that often stays with you; you get to pick up a lot of habits most of which are to do with the survival instincts for having to deal everything with your self, decide for yourself starting from as simple as wearing ghos yourself and lacing your shoes to managing money for yourself. I don't remember all the details of boarder life, but memories of good and some real bad and tough ones still stays with you or are triggered and rings the bell when you see or something related to it occurs. It sometimes make me sad to rewind those times; but it also gives me that extra cushion of hope and the strength to get on with the life. I never thought I would one day put these into words but, it actually feels good writing this which is being experienced by people like me, people of my generation specially from remote parts of the country. We all had this similar kinda of experience in schools. I consider the people of my generation the luckiest and one of the last standing ones as we got to experience not only that older and typical rural culture and traditions before the modern amenities came and extinct it all; but also the latest and modern amenities after road and electricity came and these technological advances in the form of modern gadgets and so on.
My parents were (are) simple farmers sustaining through subsistence farming but they never let me feel it was something of a disadvantage or an obstruction that would block me from getting the modern education; as the first child to be enrolled to modern school from the family, I had their full support and perhaps because if it, out of sheer love they put me to boarder life to be able to learn to stand on yourself. Also the distance between my house and school was bit long ( took more than hour to reach by foot). Everyday I had to walk more than two hours (to and fro) which is hard for the young kids.
Boarder life was a tough, it is tough for every one. The most vivid memory is about always being hungry. The food served at the school was never sufficient, I would always go hungry. I don't know why? Despite the second shares and bonus beaten maize and the puffed soya beans that my mom sent to supplement; I was always yearning for more and would go hungry most of the time. That's not to say that the school didn't provide enough. I thank and am really grateful for the school mess system - school feeding program arranged and provided by the government, the World Food Programme (WFP). Were it not the FREE systems I wonder where I would be right now? I wonder where anyone from those remote village such as ours would be? The school feeding programme included tinned fish from Japan and Norway amongst many other items. It's silly and even embarrassing to remember incidents where by some of the fellow friends would fall into those big empty pots of the school while rushing in to get second share during meal times.
Boarder life also taught us to live through and survive through thick and thin. Sleeping on the plastic Indian carpet which was a centimeter thick and blanket woven from the wool by my mother and using lamp made from half Bottle Rum filled with kerosene to study ( afterwards lantern came) and revise at night was the real highlight. Also often getting lashed up by the so-called captains if one was late even by a second on their call. Captains of the primary school were really powerful those days. I don't know if the situation is same in today's boarder school? And we had so many captains I remember. Apart from usual school, respective house and class captains, we had prayer captain to conduct and organise evening prayers and coordinate annual school rimdos; then we had firewood captain who would measure the amount of firewood class II and above were required to collect every Saturday. If you are short of the mark set between two poles, you had to go back and get the remaining. Then we had the Games captain who had his own power specially during the morning Physical Training (PT). The captain would stay with the belt on the door(the hostel was a large common room with just one door) and If you were late even by second at the ground for physical exercises, you would get lashes there as well.
I wasn't mischievous like others and not too bad in studies as well; but still, I remember getting lot of lashes from the captains in that six years of boarder life. That was the longest duration and period that I have of the memories that had somehow shaped my life. The above narrations are but the facts and not in any way criticism to the system that were in place those times. In fact I am proud to have been able to experience such a thing in my life; some of the valuable lessons of life has been learnt and picked up from the these experiences in that school.
How was your primary school days like?