#MonalofSushness : Day 16. Monal of age five had to travel by a bus that seemed very big to her, to school. In her planned small town, no child was supposed to have to do this. But due to temporary lack in space in a near-by school Monal and some of her friends who lived close by, faced this predicament. Travelling by a big school bus and that too for more than half hour caused anxiety in her tender mind. But she never shared that with anyone. Just her nature.
Monal’s class was part of the afternoon batch. The last bell of each day had a special happy ring. It meant that it was time to go home and then to play outdoors with friends who lived in her street.
One day, a bad day, after the last ring when all the “bus children” gathered in the huge central veranda in front of the Head Mistress’s office to go home, they were made to sit in neat rows on the floor with their school bags.
Little Monal had no idea what went wrong or how long it would take for the bus to arrive. In that anxiety, she felt the need to use the washroom for what her friends called ” the big job.” She was a shy little girl then. Hardly made any new friends and rarely spoke to the teacher. Standing up in front of all the children sitting in a row and asking to use the toilet seemed like an extremely shameful act to Monal. Her discomfort and anxiety grew.
She felt goosebumps all over her body and nearly did not breathe. They do not say for nothing, “when you got to go, you got to go.” Her brain almost stopped functioning and that helped her to muster courage to stand up and go to the attending teacher who was unknown to her. To her dismay, the teacher sent her back to her seat saying that the toilets were already locked for the day.
Poor Monal just gave up the fight. She went and sat on the floor again and had the most distressing experience of her life till then. She just soiled her panty and tried to pretend as though nothing was wrong. A little later the bus arrived and the half hour drive back to the bus stop close to her home began.
Children sitting around Monal started sniffing and pressing their nose. She felt worried, very worried for almost half the journey and then it struck her that the best way to blend in would be to press her own little nose too, after all she was worst hit with the smell. The bus arrived at the stop.
A bunch of mothers were waiting to escort their children home. One look at Monal’s face as she was alighting from the bus her Mamma knew that something was amiss. Monal understood that from her Mamma’s expressive eyes and the bond a mother and daughter share from the very early days. Monal was sure her Mamma would be angry with her.
All these thoughts came to her in a flash. As soon as Monal’s Mamma took her school bag from her she asked her softly if she had “done it.” Monal just stared back all frightened. Monal’s Mamma immediately hugged her and hurriedly took her home making sure no adult around guessed anything amiss. Reaching home, once cleaned, Monal’s Mamma made her sit on her lap and made her feel all warm and fuzzy.
Monal suddenly remembered something that she had almost successfully tried to erase for it had bothered her terribly. She did not even understand why it felt not right and that almost scared her to completely clam up. Yet again she decided to tell her Mamma the story another day. It would require either more love or or more desparation.
Article by Sushmita Gupta
Art by Ashwin Pandya