In the beginning mom used to accompany me, with my little sister, who would walk a bit and for the rest of the walk, end up in mom’s arms. And then there was this older girl, a neighbor of ours, who was in fifth or sixth standard then who also went to the same school and an arrangement was made for me to go with her and comeback with her. Let’s call her L.
I used to enjoy walking with her - a big girl who seemed to know so much, who had friends on the way, who knew many shops that sold candies on the way and who I thought was one bold girl. What I didn’t know then was that she used to miss classes quite often, be sent out by teachers every other day for not completing home work and got very low grades. These were something that weren’t even possible for me to imagine, as my parents saw to it that I always completed my homework, taught me at home as well, never allowed me to bunk just like that and I was always told education was the most important thing to have in life! So all things that this girl L did, amused me.
There were times when I’d have some complex and feel inferior to her, as I never had the guts to do all that she did - to be so carefree about school, and not to be asked about anything about school at home. I envied her freedom! I cursed my luck for having parents who took interest in my studies and grades and home works…
(What I didn’t know then was that as soon as she completed her 10th, no matter she failed or passed with a rank, her parents would get her married off to a rich guy or rather a man, much older than her, and then she’ll have a couple of kids before her mid twenties and that’s about it. There was nothing beyond this for her to aspire for… but in my case, my parents aspired that I’d study well (of course I was the one who got first in class most of the times) and become an engineer or a doctor or whatever was that I aspired. They wanted me to become independent with good education and that was the most important one.)
Coming back to the story, this girl, on some days stopped by the railway track and asked me to go to school alone and come back in the evening. By now, I was well aware of the route and was used to walking alone too. And in the evenings when I’d come back she’d already be there, and would walk back with me. I was so dumb that I’d assume she came to school after me and came back just before me! Later she told me that she’d sit by the railway track and play there by herself for the entire day and go back home after the school hours!
She tried persuading me to give her company too. But I was too scared to attempt anything like that as I knew the consequences of it. When I didn’t give in, she tried scaring me. She showed me a used and thrown hand gloves and said stories that there were some criminals there who murdered people and chopped their bodies into pieces and carried them in gunny bags. And that this hand had fallen off by mistake. I was petrified by this thought. I then agreed to stay with her one day, and hide and watch that guy who killed people! Was it out of fear of that guy or was it because of curiosity or to appear bold like her, I don’t remember now. Anyways I bunked the next day.
As we reached the railway track, we didn’t go further on the school road and instead, removed our shoes and got on to playing something there. And the criminal who was apparently the cause of this venture had been forgotten! After about an hour or so, to my ill luck, there came this neighbor aunty, who knew both of us and there we were caught red handed, err mud handed :)
I don’t remember the exact sequence of what happened later, but I and L were in that lady’s house and my mom was brought there; our house was a couple of furlongs from hers, may be her son went over and brought my mother (there were no telephones then). Mom had her comb still stuck on her hair, she had left in a hurry. And the next thing I remember is that my mom took me home silently, clearly angry and as soon as we went home, she changed my soiled clothes and gave me a couple of whacks from her comb.
And later I was given some counseling and asked to confess on the details of the event. And there was some lesson on why it was bad to bunk so as well; and how it could be dangerous for little girls to be roaming about the railway track the whole day and so on. And there ended my bunked day!