Back to the school days, then and now
These days, while adults crib about life in house captivity, not many children do. They teach us a lesson or two, provided we care to learn, on how not to grumble and growl. For grown-ups, this is the best time to do/learn what they always wanted to but couldn’t due to their busy schedules and travelling. Well, here’s how our 11-year-old Aziz keeps himself busy on lazy days.
Thanks to Covid times, there’s no early morning waking up; no coaxing to finish breakfast or put on shoes or look for the identity card to rush to school; he is enjoying life’s leisurely pace. When not attending online classes or doing homework, he arranges, and rearranges, his collection of 100-odd toy cars; spruces up his play corner, cupboard, works on cubes; watches TV; rolls and roars with laughter; plays games on his mother’s smartphone or watches videos on grandma’s ipad. When glued to the screen, he ignores his mother with impunity. He hears her, but doesn’t listen. And, what a treat it is to see him savour his meals! His only grouse is his inability to visit his ‘nanke’ or maternal grandparents.
The other day, his mom set up the laptop and readied it for the online class. Prior to this, she would often take out printouts, using her smartphone. A polite enquiry revealed that teachers were mailing homework online and she was following links and downloading lessons. Seeing my puzzled look, she went on: The class teacher has formed a Whatsapp group. Since I’m not smartphone savvy, I chose to smile and remain silent.
Ruminating on the technological advances and changes it has introduced in our lives, I was transported back to my school days 65 years ago. We carried plain school bags that were no match to the smart bags children have these days. My bag was way lighter than Aziz’s. We carried two slates, one wooden (phatti) and another made of stone or metal. The first was to practise our handwriting and the second for rough work.
We would polish the phatti with clay every day. We would write with the ‘kalm’ (pen) made of reed that was cut and chiselled to a particular shape for good writing. We would dip the ‘kalm’ in black ‘shyahi’ (ink). The ‘kalm-dwat’ (bottle of ink) was a permanent fixture in our school bags. We used a ‘saleti’ to write on the slate and a small piece of cloth, hanging from a thread tied to it, to wipe it clean.
Aziz is unfamiliar with such paraphernalia, as is many a senior citizen about today’s technology.
Homework was done with pencil. For English writing, we used a four-line exercise book and a ‘G’ nib-fitted pen.
We would dip it in blue ink to write. ‘G’ nib was to ensure each letter of the alphabet was written in the correct way.
Now, there is such a variety in stationery as also in accessories, such as tiffin boxes and water bottles. We would be content with ‘roti-subzi’ or ‘salt-ajwain parantha’ and simply cup our hands to drink straight from the tap. Water purifiers were unheard of, so was junk food.
Bicycles were a rarity among students and we would walk to school. Security was not an issue unlike today when children step out, so do moms, standing guard.
Subtle signs of changing times.
AZIZ IS UNFAMILIAR WITH SUCH PARAPHERNALIA, AS IS MANY A SENIOR CITIZEN ABOUT TODAY’S TECHNOLOGY