THE SCHOOL – Short Story School
Some were brilliant bordering on genius. Others, genius bordering on madness. Almost all had spent a decade and three years together. But most were still unknown to each other. They dressed the same way; double-knot ties (two crests blue and two black, strictly slanting from right to left), crisp ironed shirts, blue skirts which were measured by scales, one inch here and there and a week-long detention. Navy blue blazers which shone in sunlight. Navy blue knee-length socks (Six-pairs each. The Great School was strictly anti perspiration odour. ). When all stood together, nothing but a huge mass of blue appeared to the eye. Strangely, the Great School stressed on “individuality.” The “blueness” however, overshadowed it every single time.
The last assembly-
The chilly December winds made it impossible to work for a normal man. But they were no normal students. The outgoing batch of The School still worked relentlessly inside the wooden-floored, grey-walled auditorium. Today was the last day of this session. Today was the last day they would face the audience, address them as the senior most girls. But most importantly, today was the last day they would be standing together as a “class.” After today, they would spend rest of their lives, meeting each other unexpectedly, brushing accidently, reading about each others’ achievements, a random engagement/marriage invitation here and there, and, as time moved on to higher degrees, obituary columns would remind them of someone who was once their classmate. Emotions are prohibited inside the premises of The School.
Compassion is stressed upon though.
One can be compassionate with the beggars on street but one cannot shed tears on leaving this great institute. One can only raise one’s head, carry the heavy baggage of The Schools’ principles, and move on with life with an aim to “make this earth a better place to live.” Fair enough. When one was being entrusted with such a magnanimous task, can they be expected to be weakened by trivialities of life? This batch knew it well.
Everyone moved around in perfect silence. Doing the work assigned to them. A strange pallor of sobriety and solemnity covered their faces. If you looked carefully you could’ve seen the 150 year old walls of The School swelling with pride on the careful aloofness seen on the faces of these outgoing students. At exactly 8:30 a whistle blew somewhere outside.
Nervous glances were exchanged.
The audience would be there in sometime.
Was everything in place?
Last minute checking ensued. Everything was in place. For thirteen years they had done it. Why wouldn’t they be able to do this for this one last time? One last time.
Suddenly the feeling seeped through them as they stood staring at each other. As a ritual, the last assembly is not guided by any teacher. They could stand anywhere they liked, speak anything they wanted; last time afterall. This sudden freedom impaired their senses for a moment. They could execute orders beautifully, but freedom was unknown territory. They stood blinking at each other.
The more daring ones started positioning themselves strategically on stage. The others jumped out of their stupor. In quick silence lines were made. Immaculate. Impeccable. Head held high they stood; ready to take on the audience. Confidence is a highly boasted virtue of The School. The audience started pouring in. In perfect lines of twos. Blue caterpillars, wriggling and taking their places in the auditorium. Some looked bored. This was what they saw at the end of every year. Some looked eager to witness the parting words of the wise seniors. In a rare act of indiscipline, some even waved to their friends on stage. The old-teacher looked at the batch of 40 girls standing today on the stage. She had seen all of them in their growing-up years. With some guilt, she looked fondly at some of her favourites. Human feeling of having “favourites”...