June 17, 2005

Cover Story

At the library today, I was reading a book whose cover was falling off. It had interesting text like “On the contrary, women never theorize, or indeed look at men.” And interesting student scribblings in the margin like “That’s coz men are typical and so boring.” Yes. This is part of my continuing education.

This post, however, is about the book’s tattered cover, which unearthed a painful tragic childhood memory. It was the third standard, the year I became the universally loathed usurper by defeating the pretty and popular girl who stood first in class an awful lot. My teacher, at least, was a kind soul who loved me like her own child. Or so I thought.

One day I went up to her to get my homework checked. She noticed that my notebook had no cover. A notebook without a cover was guilty of indecent exposure in my convent school. The teacher asked why my notebook was, well, unclothed. I replied that since my Dad was out of town, he could not replace the old cover, which had given way a couple of days ago. This was a true story, for the record.

The teacher did something I could never have imagined. She laughed out loud, waved my naked notebook in front of the class and said, “look everyone, here is a girl who cannot cover her own notebook.”

The devils I used to study with laughed like hyenas. I was too shocked to be embarrassed. I knew that half of these morons had trouble tying their shoelaces, and each one of them had her notebooks covered by Daddy or Mummy, but they had the nerve to join the teacher in laughing at me.

That day, I started covering my books myself. All my fourth standard books had higgledy piggledy covers carefully snipped and fitted by yours truly. In a year or two, I learnt many covering techniques and the covers became neat and elegant, and much better than Dad’s!

Some years later, we were visiting family friends. The son was two years ahead of me, and I saw his dad covering his Class Nine notebooks! I heard the class of eight-year-old devils laughing in my head.

I’ve seen people laugh at others so many times now: and known that they are guilty of the same crime. I cannot bear to do that. If you tell me a joke and I don’t laugh, that’s probably the reason why. Either that, or you’re a guy, and consequently so typical and boring.


Anonymous said...

I remember an incident when my Marathi teacher, with the intention to praise student x's good scores in a language that was apparently alien to her, ended up reproaching a couple of Maharashtrian students for having flunked in Marathi and the whole class went into a roar of mocking laughter, while I just couldn't bear sitting there. I guess teachers shud be made to take a course in child psychology before they are hired.

Miss Sea said...

u were laughed at because of exposure and I because of the lack of it ;)

you sure learnt covering well..thanks for covering my books till...errr...psst, when do u plan to teach me?! :P

Kahini said...

MAJOR signs of insecurity your class shows.

I always covered my books myself, it was one of the few pleasures of a new school term. I went to Crossword the other day and looked at the stationery section... man, the school supplies looked SO good.

Ash said...

lol !
that wa sthe one chore at the beginning of school term that I sorely detested !

Anonymous said...

how could the teacher do that? very mean of her.

and yup dad used to it for me till about class IV *guilty as charged*



Handful Of Hell said...


Sometimes we learn things the hard way. Envision your dad coiffing notebooks for you till you were in high school, a chore you were very capable of executing yourself from years before. May be your teacher used sarcasm to bring about a paradigm shift in your attitude rather than resort to corporal punishment. For all you know, you could have gotten one tight slap like little kids in school get and promptly have your book covered or be let off with a warning only to never bother covering your book till dad lent his hand. But here, she appears to have transformed you into a self sufficient person albeit with the mental scar you still carry which I conjecture could also be cuz of your way of looking at it.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. I understand what is going on your head, I was once sent out of an English class for not being able to control my cough but then I wonder now, if it was because I was a guy, and consequently so typical and boring.

Sonia said...

"Either that, or you’re a guy, and consequently so typical and boring. " lol! LOVE that line!

cactusjump said...

this post comes full circle so beautifully :)

Stone said...

thats y I say, Govt. schools r the best :-)

Ostrich said...

Kids and even teachers can be extremely cruel sometimes.... And the worst part is that these teachers think they are "tyring to improve" our lives by resorting to such lowly methods!

I can relate to KK's comment.. I was in X's shoes and one Maharashtrian girl was insulted by the teacher.. I ended feeling miserable as I watched that girl get yelled at by our Marathi teacher.. it was cruel, insensitive and disgusting!

Rash said...

very thoughtful comments...hmmm..all I want to say is...but jokes are jokes...so what's the trouble in laughing?