She was a senior officials daughter. Senior to my father at least. These things matter in niche schools. Niche schools don’t just have to be the ones that charge hefty tuition fees, they can even be the ones that give you free education. The 981 Kendriya Vidyalayas across India and abroad are one such example. They are for the children of Central Government employees of India, who get transferred to godforsaken parts of the country on a regular basis. I studied in them.
Coming back to Tamanna. She had short crop hair. Two things separated her from the rest of us.
One – she was a little slow at learning or understanding anything. Even in the course of a normal conversation, one had to explain things very slowly to her with examples. In today’s world, her parents would have been made to run around therapists, analysts, special schools etc.
Two – Our navy blue school uniform skirts had box pleats and a side opening, generously studded with hooks or press buttons to keep them closed. Some fancy slits had a zipper . Unfortunately, hers would always be open.
Naughty boys had a name for it. Letter box!
We had to be careful about those side slots lest the boys teased us about our open letterboxes.
One such boy, Rajesh Singh, used to wait for such unfortunate days. He would come running and toss a handful of stones into it. He would then run around screaming....post office is open now! We had complained about it. Sometimes he was disciplined, but most of the times he got away with it.
If he did it to anyone of us, he could be sure of a chase and a thorough beating if he got caught. But if he did it to Tamanna (which was quite rare), he wouldn’t run. He would just stand there and smile at her. She would smile back. We would be seething with anger on her behalf. “Slap him, you are so close” we prompted in chorus but she would just smile.
She wouldn't even get angry. She would just look at her skirt with a sheepish grin.and ask him “ I should get that fixed na?". He would nod a yes. That’s it! No chase. No heated arguments. Nothing at all.
In time, we saw that he had reduced bothering her but not us. He never spared us. The bickering, the fights, the chase, the pummelling, the screaming....all continued.
How did Tamanna get to be so clever when we thought her to be ‘not so bright’? She had taken the entertainment factor out of his game. Bothering Tamanna was no fun at all as she would just smile back at you. Gandhigiri (non violent civil disobedience) haan?? Something that took us quite some time to understand and apply in our lives.