Monday, October 6, 2014

Of Sweet Memories and Fun Times

From "I belong to the City School, The City School belongs to me."
To "We thank the day, the torch was lit, many many years ago."

From the music and reading room in fourth grade to the free periods in A Levels.
From the unfinished PE ground to the beautifully done 'whole school ground'.

From the swings during recess to the corridor hangouts during free classes.
From the glass of pepsi to the chai addiction.

I have been there, done that .. AT THE CITY SCHOOL PAF CHAPTER.

I have literally grown up here ... from fourth grade, through the junior section, the prep section, the senior section, and finally through A Levels this place has been my second home!
I like to divide the time I spent at PAF into three parts; Impressive Beginnings, the Tortured Middle, and Fabulous Finish.

Impressive Beginnings

I earned my admission to the City School PAF Chapter in grade four. Previously I had spent a miserable time trapped at The Mama Parsi School where the teacher's favorite (who was always, surprisingly, a Parsi girl) would always receive the highest praise, the first position, and all possible honors. I failed to understand why I was always the fourth position holder in class, my grades strategically maintained at a certain level no wonder how much effort I put in. And the girls who received the first three positions were ALWAYS Parsi, and always the same. Talk about major Parsi bias here!

I still remember the not-so-cool lady who took my admission test from me at PAF. I had written an essay that had something to do with birds chirping on a fabulously peaceful morning and I knew I had done well .. only the Mama Parsi mentality of never receiving what I deserved for good performance kept scaring me; I thought I wouldn't be accepted. But I was and soon I was introduced to a class in which everybody already knew each other (oh, great!). I was shy; I still remember how shy I was the first day when I was taken to stand behind 'my class line' in the first PAF assembly of my life. I thought I would never be able to make friends here and that it would be exactly like Mama Parsi where everybody had biases so strong, they showered out of their butts. But I was wrong and I knew that within a few minutes after the assembly.

My class teacher was the most awesome lady I came across during my looooong stay at PAF. Mrs. Sadia whose name I will definitely mention (unlike many others later in this entry who I won't, even though I should!) loved me from the very beginning. She was probably the one reason why I settled so well at PAF; so well that I wasn't going to leave until the very last bit of education had been completed. Mrs. Sadia was strict and straightforward but very sweet if you were good; and I was a good girl .. no hanky panky. The girls and the boys I met the first day, I liked too. Except for some who clearly saw me as the 'extra' .. overall my class mates seemed really good. As time passed I made friends, some good, some okay, some who clearly only pretended that they were there for me .. the guys in class saw me as the tallest girl (I was embarrassingly even taller than all of the guys!) who always stood at the very end of our line in the assembly sessions. Some even asked me why I was taller than them and all I could ever do was laugh and enjoy!! Personal opinion: the guys in my class were much better than the girls (at least some of them!) .. there was no drama, just plain clean friendship with no jealousies or mental issues. I never said all the guys were nice; there was one particular guy who I absolutely hated seeing (sadly, he lives no more and died a young tragic death). He used to make fun of me because I was chubby and nerdy. I'd name him the 'stabber'. He stabbed a pencil right through my project once .. a project that I had spent hours making with my mama and that Mrs. Sadia had declared really pretty and had displayed it on the class's soft board. Talk about retarded, yeah? Gradually though, I fell in love with class 4E; the fun, the PAF ways, the classmates, and my class teacher!

Soon, we had our first tests and the results arrived: that brilliant red report book! Mrs. Sadia came in class that morning and started hinting at who had done the best and stood first. I learnt that day that since grade 1 there had been one girl who ALWAYS stood first in my class ... let's just call her 'Miss First Position'. Mrs. Sadia then said, and I remember this word for word, "This time there is somebody who has completely exceeded 'Miss First Position' and I am so proud! Let's clap for Sara, she's taken the first position!" ... and the class broke into applause. My first ever PAF report book was handed to me, to be taken home for my parents to sign and see and from then onward all my report books said the same thing; '1st position'. I was finally finally finally being appreciated for all the effort I put into studying.

Not only had I stood first in my own class, I had achieved the highest percentage in the entire Junior 1 section (which meant nine sections of grade 4!!!). I was happy beyond words could explain and my mother was exploding with pride!

Mrs. Sadia told me then that I had impressed her with my hard work and I realized the Parsi spell of Mama School had broken; PAF was appreciating me for what I was and there was no bias involved. I progressed from one grade to another, impressing my teachers and peers (and making some jealous) one after the other. People, who included students, their parents, as well as teachers, knew my name very soon as I gained my 'Smart Girl' reputation.

The nerdy chronicles continued! I secured the first position and highest overall percentages every year and trust me, I couldn't have been happier!! ....

Fifth Grade and sixth ...

I was so so so happy at PAF! Gradually, I made friends with everybody (almost!) in my class, they loved me and the feeling was mutual. My teachers started showering opportunities at me; I was soon seen and heard during the morning assemblies. Sometimes I was the narrator, sometimes I played a part in a skit or a presentation, or elocution, or debate, or this or that. I was into sports; on the school's sports teams and even won! It was the PERFECT life in every aspect I could have dreamed of. Moreover, it was the height of my happiness when I was selected for the school's council! WOW! I was class monitor, I was class prefect, I was house captain! I was the High Achiever .. I loved PAF chapter and every single thing about it!

I collected a number of certificates to remember my achievements during my beautiful stay at PAF ...

My beautiful 'Prefect' Badge!!!

I grew close to three girls in fourth grade: 'Miss First Position', 'Nutter S', and 'Trendy N'. I have reasons for choosing the names I have for them. Miss First Position was fine with me initially and to be honest I loved her the most out of all three .. until the results were announced.

To me, it never mattered who came first or second between us because I had come from Mama Parsi and never looked forward to securing the first position (because I never thought I'd get it!) ... but ever since that day I could feel she had become uncomfortable with the fact that Mrs. Sadia praised me every single time I did something nice. I guess competition, if not taken in a healthy way, can really spoil things .. and that's what Miss First Position did. It was sad when she even joked about it once; she told me I came in and took away the position from her. I laughed it away but we knew (even the other two!) that things had changed. Miss First Position soon transferred away from PAF and left behind us three; me, Nutter S and Trendy N.

Nutter S got her name thanks to the stuff she did for attention. I mean, dressing up mature for the age we were back then and talking about things adults would was one thing and maybe even acceptable to some point but faking death was SERIOUSLY mad. 
Nutter S told us she was sick one day and when asked what had happened she cooked up a wonderful story about how she was throwing up blood. She said that according to her fictitious doctor, if she threw up another drop of blood she would die. Why did we believe her? WE WERE KIDS OKAY?! ... During recess that day we stayed back in class instead of hitting the playground because our friend was dying. She even faked that she had to throw up that day; obviously she didn't let anyone of us accompany her to the loo to see that she was okay .. she came out pretending to be swaying and feeling weak and we rushed to the staff room to drag any teacher back to her, whoever would listen ..because she was dying, right? .... Talk about being a nutter!! I still can't forget the look on our teachers' faces when they heard our 'our friend is dying in class' story.

Trendy N was always cool about everything. She hid her true feelings and gave the most diplomatic statements ever. All she ever cared about was dressing up and following trends .. and even back THEN (in fourth grade!) she actually had the senses that tracked how many guys were looking at her! I mean .. I was the chubby nerd, Miss First Position was a very decent girl too, let's just skip Nutter S (okay?!) .. GUYS was one topic we just didn't think was appropriate to discuss ...
But then in fifth grade I met and became friends with another girl, who I'll call 'Perverted A'. She crossed all possible limits and completely beat Trendy N at thinking perverted. She was a walking talking pervert and I was just stuck with her. She was the kind of girl who wouldn't let you un-friend her, even though she knew you were clearly uncomfortable in her presence. According to her, she had some direct relation with a singer celebrity (who was very famous at that time) and I believe that gave her the liberty to self-claim herself as a celebrity too. She was REALLY full of herself, and probably that first person at PAF who I regretted having met!

I started off at PAF in great ways. My grades were perfect, literally. I was friends with everybody in class. I had made some close friends who I loved a lot regardless of what they were like. My teachers loved me. My parents were super proud of me! What more could a person have wanted?

Little did I know what was in store for me as I progressed from Impressive Beginnings to the Tortured Middle ...

COMING UP: The Tortured Middle ...

- S. Ali

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