There was a lot of confusion(only for me) over the kind of school I went to - An RSS/Jains run CBSE co-ed school which believed in substituting half of friday/saturday with Bhajans, greeting teachers with namastes, never implementing the 'English only' fine scheme but insisting only one subject homework every day instead of truckloads of hw. The school was in direct contrast with the kind of schools my friends and some cousins went to - Christain missionary run Matriculation schools.
Bharathi, my neighbour would spend hours cleaning up her math homework - literally cleaning up. She cant strike any answer, so half her time was spent on neatly erasing mistakes. She will make rough copy, fair copy. I cant till date write anything without striking and making a mess. Cousin D used to say she almost ironed the dog ears out of her notebooks. Dog ears ah?, with my face literally showing a blank. Their parents would get together and crib with a twinge of pride about the copious amount of homework they were made to do.
Looking back, this choice of school seems to be one of my better blessings. I am not referring to the obv. CBSE adv. which is huge ofcourse. But my point is more of the discipline and neatness. Every year I had the following episode repeated with different teachers - in sixth it was the social science teacher, seventh - the hindi and eigth - tamil one.
Jayashree - I think was the social science teacher. She walked in after first mid-term. As the whole class waited with bated breadth for the papers, she asks, "Who is sachita?(my real name ofcourse which is no where remotely related to sachita). The heads turned to me. S, who was sitting next to me had already guessed it. I stood up.
"Your handwriting", she shook her head, her face recalling the terror of correcting my paper.
I nodded fully understanding the trauma that was my handwriting. "But you study well, you participate in class discussions". ( I have extreme trouble writing such sentences - let me clarify I never ever scored first rank in whole of my school life but for teachers if you are in top 5 that would do good which i was in that school - I couldnt even hold on to that when I moved to madras. The participating bit was true esp. in smaller city school).
" Why is your handwriting this bad?".
Now, how could I answer this question, I mean if I knew what the problem was, wouldnt I have fixed it? Anyway I just tried a shy smile at her. Rest of students went on with how bad my writing can be. It was a source of amusement to the class.
Finally, the paper was handed to me with improve your handwriting note. The hindi teacher went one step ahead and imagined transforming my life. She consoled me saying even Gandhiji had bad handwriting and asked me to write one page every day. We did that for one month, She was very happy with the results. The funda is, by middle school, I could write one page legibly even neatly. It is only when you ask me to write fast it goes from decent to bad to worse to horrible.
When I say horrible, it is literally a line. In the race between time and effort to capture all the words from my head to the paper, my last sentence is mostly just a line.
Tamil teacher badly wanted to know how I had ended the essay. I think it had a bit of story going in it or something and it was literally breaking her head. So she showed me the line thinking since I
wrotedrew the line, I can decipher/ I would know. Neither was true. Obv. most of us cant even remember the memorized answers which evaporate the moment we finish the exams so recalling something impromptu like an essay was out of question. But the main point is, I cant decipher my own writing when I write that bad.
As I stood cluelessly, she was shocked. I was sent off with a 'please improve your handwriting , in couple of years boards were approaching' ..... the whole routine.
So what I want to say is, for someone who was as clumsy and who had as bad a handwriting as mine a, less than strict school was such a blessing in disguise. I would have literally been killed in a school that insisted on those periphery aspects like neatness and other crap*. I wouldnt have the patience nor the acumen. My only skill till date it is analytical. If there wasnt scope to explore that I cant imagine what a horrid life it would have been. It would have crushed me as a child.
Oh, my handwriting ofcourse continues to be bad. When I note down addresses fast sometimes I cant decipher, but hurray for computers and printers :)