A cold day in June
It was a beautiful chilly morning, in Gonamoro village. One could easily see the green healthy looking grass still holding on to the droplets of water from the cold and moist evening air, an attribute of the village air that made a lot of people fall in love with the place at first glance.
An old van was passing by, carefully maneuvering the ground potholes of the now dilapidated village tarred road. Voices could be heard, as the village gradually came to life with little birds singing their first melodies to welcome and embrace the beautiful day ahead. For Dora, it was a usual day and she certainly had no idea of what was ahead of her, after all there is so much beauty in the unknown, well sometimes…
Strolling down beside the road was a young looking teenage girl, one could see her smiling from ear to ear, carrying what seemed to be a now worn out but strong purple school bag. As she walked to school, happily waving her hands to and from, it was evident that she was in a good mood. Memories of the previous day were memories she intended on reminiscing for a while. The bright face and beautiful smiles were a mere glimpse of the happiness that was inside her. She took a deep breath, amused by herself and continued with her trip to school.
Reaching the school premises, Dora rushed to class hoping to make it in time for her first lesson for which she had become a visitor because she almost always arrived late. It was not a different story today as her teacher Boika passed her on his way out ,with a ‘you can do better than this look” As soon as she got into the noisy class, several guys went silent and followed her with a mocking gaze as she went to sit on her usual spot, the last row, the last bench. The incidents that had been taking place in her school life in the past recent week had taken a huge toll on her self-esteem. Most times she preferred to hide. It was in this hiding that she thought she could find herself or maybe the bullies would eventually leave her alone and let her be.
The classroom window glasses were blurred from the morning cold and most of the students had their jerseys and school tracks on except Dora. Had someone asked her why she wasn’t putting on warm clothing on such a chilly day, she would certainly tell you that it was not a choice. Her elder sister, Pola, who also happened to be her guardian could not afford to get her a jersey. As it was, she was already struggling with trying to raise school fees for Dora. They had lost both their parents in a tragic accident the previous year and since then ,their lives changed for the worse.
Time went by and there was no sign of any teacher and in no time, a smart, short boy stood in front of the class with what seemed to be a letter or poem in his hands. He boldly asked for attention from the rest of the class as he began reading the letter. The starting point went like, “ Biology is the study of all living things and through it we understand more about human nature….” Dora could not keep up since she thought it was not much interesting. She decided to work on her unfinished homework, but before she finished the third line of her essay, the presenter’s voice in front of the class went unusually high as if seeking for more attention from a specific person. ‘Some of us have more than enough adipose layers so in spite of the low temperatures ,we remain warm and will not bother putting on jerseys’ As he finished this last line, almost the whole class burst into laughter and looked directly at her.
Only then did Dora understand what was going on, they were mocking her again about her remarkably increasing weight. It suddenly hit her so bad as laughter continued to rise. In such moments, Dora prayed for the earth to open and swallow her up but that never happens anyways. So she waited as usual for the noise to cease but this time it continued and fellow classmates started stamping on their desks hard. This time she couldn’t take it any more and felt tears rolling down her cheeks as she prayed silently for all this to stop. A sharp voice from the front of the class startled everyone, the shouting and hitting of desks went down. Dora will forever remember the first three phrases the girl shouted after getting everyone’s attention. “ When will this STOP!!!?, how long are we going to keep mocking our own classmates and friend, what do we benefit from all this!!?” She went on to give what seemed to be a very powerful speech and for the very first time in life, Dora understood what a life savior meant. She couldn’t keep up because the tears she had kept for so long were now rushing down her face like a stream in a desert. The determined girl walked to Dora and took her by the arm, to the front…inviting everyone to come and apologize with either a hug or a shake hand. This instruction was followed unexpectedly and most pupils could not face Dora but did the needful.
Dora stood there, with her heroine Tindo holding her with the left hand as everyone came to apologize. It was the very starting point of her freedom from mocking, bullying and verbal abuse. It was going to be one of the most memorable days of her eighth grade to remember and dearly cherish. ◦
25 November, 2022