My school was not too bad. The time was different, so if you compare it with today’s schools with air-conditioned buses and classrooms, then it does not fare well. However I did not know what air-condition was, so I could not complain. Of course, a fan in the classroom would have been highly appreciated. Imagine sitting in a class of fifty odd snotty, smelly kids with sun at forty eight degree Celsius; and me more often than not standing in a corner facing the wall or standing on the bench, or holding my ears and doing sit-ups. It wasn’t my fault; I just could not stand the heat.
The only saving grace was the cold water in my water bottle that I used to carry from home. I used to wait till the last drop of moisture in my throat oozed from my body in form of sweat. Then I opened my bottle and watched the water flowing from the bottle directly to my throat and in every pour of my body. I have never known a greater satisfaction to this date. But like all good things, this must also come to an end.
I lost my first water bottle when I was in second standard. Then I lost my second and third water bottle in third and fourth standard respectively. I have always believed myself to be a thinker with massive attention deficit. Earlier nobody noticed it including me, but now I know it for sure, with constant thrashing from my wife each time I am so focused on television and not listen to her. Several times I nod and later cannot even recall that the conversation ever happened. Since I did not know any such thing to exist, I could never give any valid excuse for such negligence.
The forth bottle I was given was not insulated so I lost the luxury of having cold water. I tried to drink all the water as soon with the fear that if I kept it any longer it would evaporate and rain somewhere else on planet. That time it was a real fear in my mind since I had recently learnt about clouds and rain. As the luck would have it, I forgot the bottle in class and when I went back it wasn’t there. I controlled my tears since I still have to spend half an hour with my classmates on bus to home.
I was sure that this time I am going to get a sound thrashing. So I decided to run away. When the bus dropped me outside the building, I started walking along the road. In next five minutes I contemplated on various things I can do to earn a livelihood. It included delivering newspapers, working at roadside eateries and working in television serials in that order. Also I had to run away till a point where it was easy for my family to find me and take me back to home; something to do with an advertisement I had seen in childhood wherein nobody says anything bad to a kid who had run away from home and later found at the railway station. After almost five minutes of walking, I realised that I was too hungry and thirsty to walk. I decided to be practical, I started walking back.
As soon as I reached my apartment, the fear sneaked in once again. So rather than going in, I went to the roof with a resolution to jump from there and end this agony. I walked to the edge and looked down. It was very high. I had fallen from bed last week and it still hurt. Recently I had seen the superman movie where he catches a girl falling from a building mid-air. The only problem was that my building was not high enough; he will be late for sure. Maybe he is catching some girls in some other parts of the world and what If he only catches girls?
My stomach growled once again. I decide to take a chance. I sneaked into my apartment. My mother told me to wash my face and change clothes. I quickly did that. I decided to have last meal and last glass of cold water of my life after which I will have to think of another way to die before my father comes home. After crossing a particular barrier on hunger and thirst, it is difficult for mind to tell when to stop, especially when I was also watching my life’s last cartoon film. The problem with summer afternoons is that after having a sumptuous meal all you can do is sleep. So I quickly fell asleep. When I woke up, my father was about to reach home. I pretended to sleep till long after he came home.
My father was watching television. I gathered my courage which was boosted by the fact that my mother had not noticed that I had lost the bottle. I got up and stood behind my father. My mother had finished her work in the kitchen and joined us. For some time no one spoke. My father was very engrossed watching news and my mother was knitting a sweater for me. I always thought it was weird that she knitted sweater in summers and I always outgrew it till winters came.
Then all my fears came alive when my mother complaint to my father that I had lost the water bottle again. Next I expected was a slap or at least a sound scolding. But to my surprise, no reaction came. Now I understand where I acquired my attention deficit from. My father only nodded and continued watching news.
That may have been the last water bottle I ever had, but I was perfectly fine with it.