Tuesday, October 21, 2008

dancing in the dark

I’m flipping through a magazine. And i come across an article, “ ten signs that your child is turning a rebel.”
Right. Like it takes only ten signs.

Anyway, it got me thinking about my childhood, or rather adolescence and rebellion. So here’s my story.

When i was 15, my family moved to a very remote part of the country. In the middle of my school year.

So imagine, you have your friends, your best friends, you are every teacher’s pet (except the hindi ma’am), you love your school, you are marked to be head girl, the cute cultural captain has a crush on you ...
and then one fine day you’re told you’re leaving that school.

Anyway, so after my half yearly exams we move. And land up in the boondocks. Sure it’s pretty. But for some reason my parents decide to stay with some friends. Who stay miles and miles away from civilisation or even the nearest village.

Anyway, two months later, my father has to move again. And my folks decided to separate for a while. However, since I have school, they decide to leave me behind. And actually I'm pretty excited about escaping the omnipresent parental eye.

Only problem is I hate the school. And most of the school hates me.
They label me fast. And not because I’m a great sprinter, but because I hang out with the senior boys.
They label me USA, (ya, remember this is a school in the boondocks. USA means all the bad thngs a girl can ever be)because one day I go for a walk with the guys to a canteen like shack behind the school.

So here I am. 15 going on 16. No parental supervision. Living with some people who were sweet but had no idea what to do with me. And going to a school I absolutely could not fit into.

And without even knowing it (see, that’s where the ten signs would have helped), I decide to turn rebel.

So I start by moving to the back bench.

Then I start to defy the teachers. I back chat, I make fun of them, I talk with a different accent every day. I laugh when they tell me to leave the class.

Next, I start to respond to a senior who’s been giving me the vibes. I hang out at the bike stand with him. I walk to the cigarette shop with him. And one day, in the middle of the school day, I decide to take him up on his offer and go for a bike ride.

Well, the whole school is agog. My woolly guardians have no clue about any of this. So when on my birthday I ask them if I can ask my friends over, they readily agree.

I don’t know what they expect, but they definitely look a little worried when my friends roar in that evening. Five senior boys who look much older than me. Luckily my smoke screen girl friend, also turns up. And two of my classmates. The tallest boys in class, who share the back bench with me.

We tell woolly guardians we’re going for a walk.

The senior boys have vodka bottles in their jackets. I’ve never really had a drink before that. But what the hell, it’s my birthday, and there’s no one to tell me what to do.

So I take a few glugs and then some more. Soon we’re all singing and pushing each other. Everyone is high. We go back, eat, and go for another walk. This time we drink rum. My two tall back bench classmates refuse to leave my side. I smoke two cigarettes, cough till tears roll down my eyes, then throw up. Drink some more rum, and throw up some more. Somehow I make it home after that second walk, ( my trusting guardians are fast asleep) get to my bed and pass out.

Point is that was really my first rebellion. I had many more moments in those four months.

In retrospect it seems stupid. Even dangerous. What if something had happened? What if those senior guys had tried something?

But back then, things were different. Thankfully.

And ya, there’s a another reason I say trust the universe. For in those four months, when there was no one to keep an eye on me, there were two boys. Who sat in the back bench with me. Who always managed to hang around me. Who somehow kept me out of trouble. And made me keep like someone cared.

I never kept in touch with them. I was so determined to get that phase behind me. But they were, for all purposes, my rebel phase guardian angels. Two tall, gangly, always on the verge of failing, 16 year old back benchers! Ha!

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