I’m trying to retrieve more memories of amma from my early childhood days, but am not able to bring up too many.
My sister could have put down a list of 50 within a few minutes.
Are all men bozos, or is it just me?
But there’s one memory that has stayed in my mind, and will stay forever.
Some old folk in my town still remember the maudlin saga of a small boy crying, weeping and thrashing about as if he was being sent to the gallows for a crime he did not commit – it was me being physically dragged on the road by amma to the nearby kindergarten school.
While these old men and women would doubtless have witnessed many more such weeping parades in their lives, they have a distinct remembrance of my case because, in addition to weeping and jumping around, I had on many occasions also torn amma’s saree in raw rebellion.
Whether amma beat me up for these misdemeanours I do not recall (she would need to be a saint not to have – and she wasn’t), but I absolutely recall that the principal of the school was not charitable enough when I kicked and bit him.
Other than getting caned, memory fails me when I try to recollect the other punishments I received at his hands, but amma has told me many times that when she came to take me home, I was the only boy at the school she had seen actually tied up against the wall, almost everyday.
I must have hurt the principal real bad.
Fast forward 10 years. The rowdy child with absolute abhorrence for formal education had topped his school in his tenth grade and stood in the top ten in his state.
Today, when I look at the gold medal I received from the governor of the state for my achievement, I can see that it is not really gold, probably low-priced bronze. 187
It has been almost 35 years, but I still remember amma’s immense pride when I showed her the medal.
Priceless!It was the same pride she had when, as an eleven year old, I showed her my first published story in a popular Indian children’s magazine, and the Rs 25 188 I received for it from Uncle Pai. 189
187. I found some consolation when I read that even Olympic gold medals are made up not fully of gold, just 3% is gold: 210g of silver, coated with 6g of 24 carat gold. The Olympic bronze medals get an even more unfair treatment – they are made of copper, zinc, tin, and just a very small amount of silver.
188. About 30 US cents
189. Tinkle is a popular Indian children’s comic magazine started by Anant Pai, popularly known as Uncle Pai.