10 July 2018

A Brief Sojourn At Pine Mount School

My eyes were brimming with tears that threatened to roll down my cheeks.Sensing this  my sister tightened her grip on my hand.I was 6 years old and my sister was 10.We were in a Meghalaya State Transport bus winding our way up the khasi hills towards our boarding school.
Pine Mount School with its red tin roof is a residential school for girls,build upon a small hill surrounded by pine trees.It was established in the 1900s and has a reputation of producing well mannered girls with etiquette

I was the younger pampered one in my family,always up to mischief and playing pranks.When my parents decided to pack me off to boarding school I thought I was being punished.I immediately hated school and everything related to it.
I was homesick, sad and hungry all the time. Although we received healthy sumptuous meals, my mind would always revolve around food; maybe it was the pure mountain air that made me hungry all the time.

I disliked studies and the only book I loved to open was this big book of pictures that said ‘Scratch And Sniff’. It had bright colorful pictures of cakes, pastries and chocolates and I loved to sniff out the pictures.They threw me into a magical world of yummy grub.Ironically inspite of my dislike of reading and learning my favorite period turned out to be the library class.
During study hour we were supposed to sit quietly for an hour and do our homework but all I did was play with pebbles, grass and wild flowers.The teacher in charge could never catch me since I would hide all my treasures very cleverly under the desk and all she saw was an open desk top.

That's me standing behind the teacher!

My  four years in Pine Mount were mostly spent in the outdoors exploring the play grounds .I would engineer  all types of games ,conjure up stories for all and sundry to hear and design hunting sprees  for me and  my friends.We would go looking for all sorts of things from pine cones, nuts and wild berries to elves and fairies.I loved chasing dragonflies and butterflies but my favorite game was Hide and Seek.When the clouds rolled down the hills we would run and disappear into a cloud to reappear and surprise the others.What fun we had!And when it rained we wore our gumboots and mackintosh and splashed and jumped on the puddles.

The seniors at the boarding school would tell us scary stories to frighten us. They would say that the school was haunted by the spirits of the British soldiers who were housed there during the world wars. They told us that if we wandered about alone we would hear footsteps follow us and whispers in the corridors. These tales would be enough to make us pull our blankets above our heads at night and not think of breaking any rules.

I was too clumsy to take care of my belongings and although every clothing had my initials inked into them I would still end up losing most of my clothes. My sister however was the smart one. She became the head girl of the school. I admired her and pride swelled up in me every time her name was announced in the Assembly. I was a contrast of my sibling. I dragged on in academics till finally my parents made a decision to take me out of the boarding school to live with them in Guwahati. But this decision came at a cost.
Me and Kaberi,my sister
One beautiful summer day, when the sun was shining and everything around the little hill on which the school stood shone in its pristine beauty, I decided it was time to build a gigantic castle. To do this I needed a large amount of dried pine needles, dried leaves, twigs, mosses and grass. I employed all my friends in this enormous task of collection and we ran around all morning very engrossed in our business. When the formidable structure was near completion I stepped back and admired our handiwork .Now the only thing missing in this art installation were some bright flowers and I knew exactly where to find them. I went racing to the flowing tree and jumped and shook the low branches but unfortunately for me along with the flowers fell a whole bee-hive right on my head .

The next thing I knew I was in Shillong Civil Hospital and my face had swellings as big as custard-apples! The medicines eased the pain but the best part was that the whole school trooped in to wish me speedy recovery and I basked in all the attention and almost felt like the Duchess of Sussex sitting up on my hospital bed bee stings and all!
And thus was cut short my primary school years at Shillong and I was put in St. Mary’s Convent in Guwahati.  As my mother would say, ”Qui Sera Sera- whatever will be will be”.

and My Own Collections

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