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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tour de France - II

The school was modern, well-lit, classrooms decorated with charts, maps and children’s artwork and projects. Miss Lithwick smiled at her newest pupil as she peered tentatively at the group of children working at their desks. Suji’s gaze alighted on Sally, and she gawked in amazement at the incredibly golden ringlets that drew to them all the sunlight filtering through the blinds. “She looks just like the princess in that story I read last night!” she thought.
“Girls and boys, we have a new friend who is joining our class today. Let’s all say hi to Sujatha, who comes from India.” The children chorused “Hi”, no enthusiasm for the stranger interrupting their day. The moment of enchantment with ‘Goldilocks’ vanished. Spell broken, Suji was shown to an empty desk and handed stationery supplies. Back to school in earnest, she had very little difficulty with school work. What she did have trouble with was making friends.
Suji constantly followed Sally around like a determined little puppy, convinced that Sally was the embodiment of the sweet-natured golden princess in her fairytale books. She tried to get in line behind her, sit at the same table with her at the cafeteria, only to be shoved aside by more favored courtiers. She pestered her with questions and requests to play games. Sally grew sourer day by day as this obtrusive affection showed no signs of waning until Miss Lithwick intervened. She spoke gently to Suji :“You are going to be my special helper for the next week. I would like you to sit with me when we have lunch in the cafeteria.”. Suji understood obliquely that she was to leave Sally alone. She consoled herself by thinking that even though Sally had such lovely hair and skin, she did have bunny teeth and was not really that pretty a princess after all.
The children had put on their coats and formed a line to go out to the playground. Suji was a proud first-in-line. “Can I touch your fur coat please, Miss Lithwick”, she asked, hand reaching out in anticipation. “Of course,” smiled Miss Lithwick, eyes gentling as she watched Suji carefully stroke the soft brownish red fur that matched the exact shade of Miss Lithwick’s hair. Bear, fox, fake, who knew?
So the fascination with ‘Goldilocks’ dwindled to nothing. Over time Suji got caught up in other activities and no longer batted an eyelid when she ran into Sally at school.
The soothing strains of guitar sounded in the French teacher’s room “Voyez-vous la pluie qui tombe…” ( Do you see the rain falling?). Mlle.Hachette had called Suji and a few other new students to the class for an instruction session in beginning French. They were to speak in French during the class, unlike the other classes and homerooms where English was the lingua franca. Some more weeks of this immersion in language and culture and the fog started to dissolve- the voices in the classroom, the speakers on the television all were now uttering actual words and sentences, not just garbled noises.

6 comments:

Ms Cris said...

Loving it!
>>she did have bunny teeth and was not really that pretty a princess after all.<<
Hehe, I can so relate to that!

Its really great you got to spend these young years in a foreign world, its so easy to accept things when you are young. Really entertaining episode! How do you remember all this?

kochuthresiamma P J said...

feel nostalgic reading abt french classes!
chidhood crushes - they r so shortlived - and funny too.

Sujatha said...

Ms Cris: It takes only a few trigger words to make it easy for me to delve into the old situations.Surprisingly, the older I get, the easier it is to remember the distant past, though I haven't got to the point where I can recall my early childhood years very well yet. All this happened when I was around 8 years old.

Kochuthresiamma: I'm glad that you like this. I will be using little anecdotes from that period as a filler between more topical and current posts, so please do watch out for the next instalment.

Lekhni said...

That's a nice story! I am fascinated, will you write some more?

Sujatha said...

Coming soon, Lekhni. Patience, patience...

subbulakshmi said...

You were the first one to pick the language which was quite amazing as we were struggling to learn it! you were actually our personal interpreter whenever we went out.