When we were in standard 7, we became notorious for being the most talkative class in our school Loreto Convent, Doranda, Ranchi. Complaints were made by most of the teachers and punishments were given in the form of demerits. But they proved to be quite futile towards bringing in some amount of discipline in us. Mischievous girls went to the extent of placing a tightly bound rubber band in a bangle in the English textbook. The book would be handed over to the English teacher when the class began. The sudden and startling rebound would make everyone laugh when the book was opened by the nonplussed teacher.
The peaceful girls – I was one of them – sat halfway on the other seats, leaving the first few rows for the uncontrollable ones. Lathika Bhaskaran sat beside me. Long curly hair and she was a sober type of girl. Her handwriting was the best in the class. She would pen any note or letter that the class needed to write. From my midway seat I observed certain things responsible for the extremely high decibel emanating from our class.
Nandita Sinha, Sunita Singh and Amita Bhatt sat in a row just on the right of the dais and literally under the nose of the teacher. They would together start laughing loudly with Nandita’s face going red and her boy cut hair bobbing up and down. What their jokes were God knows. The other girls also talked loudly but the trio of Nandita, Sunita and Amita were incorrigible. Their constant chatter and loud laughter predominated the class.
Even I would be disturbed by this. Helplessly I would watch from my seat the deplorable condition of the teachers who tried their level best to teach through the din. This lack of discipline attracted the attention of our headmistress nun. And one fine day the foreigner walked into the class with a design in her mind. She wanted to find out the three most talkative students in the class. On a chit of paper each student had to write out the names of those three girls who they thought were the most talkative. I was only too happy to write the names of those three girls. The chits were collected and handed over to our Headmistress Mother.
In our school there was a rule that if a girl had three or four demerits in a month (there was a separate register for the same) she would be made to pin a black ribbon on her blouse. Then she was made to stand in front of all the students while the assembly was going on. This was the ultimate of shame and insult heaped on the student for all the girls to witness. Every student in the school would dread this abominable parading of mistakes done and exposed in this manner. The three girls had to undergo this punishment.
Next day the showdown happened in the class. The three girls had got the largest number of votes. They had to face the wrath of the nun as well as the parents who were called to be given their leaving certificates. Nandita, whose mother was a doctor left the school immediately. The other two girls’ parents begged and prayed for their wards and were finally given permission to continue school.
During lunch break the girls sat together and kept asking us all whose names they had written. The clever girls kept mum but as I was quite angry with them I blurted out the names. Amita was never a close friend of mine. But now she was furious to know that I wrote her name. The seed of enmity was sown there. She then became my sworn foe thereafter. She was loud and insulting whenever we met after that day till the end of our school days. In the meantime, I came to know about her personal life.
Her mother had died when they were young and her father had married her mother’s younger sister, her mausi. Now her step mother was full of hate for her and her brother. She cared more for her own daughter in fact. Amita would talk big and show off whenever she chatted with her friends. They had lots of imported goods in their house. Her fridge was always full of apples, her step mother was busy with her kitty parties and what not. No proper guidance at home regarding behaving in class. She was also deprived of the attention that young girls may need at this time in their lives. I forgave her behaviour when I came to know of her reality.
Later I met her in St. Xavier’s College, where I too had enrolled myself in. Hostilities were afloat even now, I noted. I avoided confronting her in order to maintain peace. After her graduation, her parents wanted to marry her off as soon as possible. They settled for an NRI boy in the USA. Six people of her family including Amita flew there to complete the nuptials. On reaching their destination, they found that the boy already had a mistress! The boy ended up giving the reference of another boy in Boston, with whom Amita’s marriage was finally fixed.
That is the story of Amita Bhatt (name changed to protect identity) who studied (History Honours) in our St. Xavier’s College, Ranchi. Hope she is happy in life, wherever she is now. God bless her.
Written on 25th June.