Today was Saraswati Puja. A puja for the children, by the children. A day where the cheerful 'basonti rong' (the only equivalent that I can think of is 'smiley yellow') is worn without fail (hehe, there's just something so wrong about the words 'fail' and 'Saraswati Puja' on the same day!). A reminder that winter is fading and spring is buddingly close.
Childhood memories of generations of Bengali boys and girls, whether in Bengal, Bangalore or the Bahamas, are absolutely incomplete without recollections of this lovely puja. The red-bordered yellow saris; the fruits, especially the 'kul'; putting school books and pens near the feet of the Goddess and watching those piles of books get higher with every passing year; for the musically inclined or at least those learning some form of song/dance/music, the appropriate books/instruments and ghungroos would also find place near Her feet; the yummy kichidi and other veggie delights; the evening addas and sessions of singing and other cultural programs. Yes, there are many happy reminiscences attached to this Holy Day.
And today, was Saraswati Puja. It also happened to be the day the school list came out. Which list? The one where the names of the students who have been granted admission in 'the BIG School' is put out. The Nephew got in and the SIL and BIL-ly Boy couldn't be more ecstatic. They'd been working towards it ever since the boy was born! I kid you not! Not to mention the endless appeals and entreaties to the heavens above. But good for the Nephew, he did it. He'd been prepping for it for the past two years. And good for his parents. It's a thrilling feeling to get something that you've been praying for incessantly.
And my EO got in too.
Sigh. What a dilemma. I thought we were absolutely clear that even if the EO got in, he would continue where he was. The MIM even declared it after the EO's concert, because he was so-happy-and-proud-he-could-burst-into-song-tears-and-like-a-balloon. He felt his son was in the best of hands, in the right environment and that he was being nurtured the way a child of five should be.
But apparently, last night he began having doubts, and so when the call came at 6.45 from the school from his brother, saying that both the boys had got in, he nearly whooped in excitement. Then he got all sombre and said, "What should we do?"
Sigh. I was so afraid that this was going to happen. That his resolve would crumble. That he'd start to sway. That the pull of the alma mater would reel him in. That he'd succumb to peer pressure, patriarchal dictate and public opinion.
Well, to cut a long story short, we've decided to put him into the Big School. And I am so scared. So shit scared that each time I start thinking about it, I start trembling.
It's a good school, no doubt, one that needs no introduction, but it's one of those stuffy, old schools that haven't moved with the times.
There's a lot of heritage and tradition attached, but there is no touch of modernity. They don't mix the old with the new, they prefer to stick to the attitudes of yore; be it in their approach to education, be it in their approach to discipline.
The school makes you a part of history, you live the history, but in the school he's in right now, he would have been creating history, making history.
The school grooms fine young men, but they don't nurture the little boys that walk in wide-eyed, scared, innocent and vulnerable.
And it is this last bit that has me crapping watermelons, bricks and cement mixers.
My beautiful boy, with eyes that see beyond the ordinary; with a spirit that is as fresh as mountain water; with a heart that is a white dove; with a sensitivity that makes my soul weep...what will happen to him? Will they see the beauty of his spirit, the charm of his innocence, and feel the all-encompassing love of his sensitive soul and nurture it? Allow it to thrive?
The way his present school does?
I'm so afraid.
And yet, I'm allowing myself to be a part of this decision to change schools and put him in. To harden him and prepare him for the world. To teach him to fight his own battles. To learn that tears are meant for the privacy of your pillow. To be trained to survive.
And consequently, I will have to learn many things as well. I will have to learn to let go. I will have to learn to not wipe his tears anymore. I will have to learn to stand by and watch him fight his own battles. And the most important lesson of all, is that I will have to learn to harden my heart as I watch the school harden him.
I just hope it doesn't break him.
I'm so afraid.
And yet, this news comes on Saraswati Puja. A day where we celebrate the Goddess of learning and music. A day where education, be it of the bookish kind or the artistic kind, is elevated to a divine principle. A day where students pray for wisdom and learning. A day where they seek Her blessings in fervent hope that they can shine in school or their chosen field of passion...music, song, dance or art. A day where we can't thank Her enough for bestowing upon us the very fact that we were fortunate enough to receive a good education that has brought us to where we are today.
Maybe She's trying to tell me something? Maybe this is all part of Her divine plan? Maybe this is Her will?
Maybe, I should trust Her a little bit more.
And so I am. Maa Saraswati, I am putting all my faith in You. I know You won't let me down.
But in the spirit of truth, I will always think that the school he is in right now, is the better one.
Maybe, Your blessings will eventually prove me wrong.
2 hours ago