Thank you, Ma’am!

17 Nov

I found a mask today, in my old writing bureau. I had made it as a twelve year old in Class Seven, after I had newly discovered the joys of working with clay. It has the Indian flag on the forehead, a cricket ball on one cheek and a bat with ‘Google’ written on the other one. It’s got big smiley eyes and a huuuge grin.

My lovely clay teacher had used the output of that particular class to teach us the valuable lesson of non-possession and giving our best to the labour of others. After coming back from the kiln, we weren’t allowed to paint our own masterpieces. We had to pick something made by a random unknown person and paint it with as much love and enthusiasm as if we were painting our own. I was pretty upset by that because I was DYING to paint my lovely cricket face. This was the period of my cricket obsession and I was pretty possessive about that obsession, come to think of it. I have no recollection of what I painted, because my thoughts were so consumed by anxiety about what would happen to my poor mask. When I got to see it, finally, I could have cried. Some joker had doubtless beheld a clown in their hands, as paintbrush poised in fingers they contemplated my work of cricketing art. So they went wild with the colours, making sure to not match the eyes or the nose or the lips or…anything really.

Today, however, even as I mourned its missing chin (which, several years later, melted in an unfortunate overnight immersion in a puddle of water) I broke into a grin as I looked at it. It’s taken me thirteen years, but I think I’ve finally learnt what Shormi Ma’am was trying to teach us that day.


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