Sunday, May 13, 2012

After-School Confusion

It was 4:05 pm.

The school premises that depicted a sacred silence some time back were suddenly abuzz with a clamour of excited voices as children rushed out to head back home.

The little girl was standing near the gate, her hand on the straps of her schoolbag. After a long day, her hair was slightly disheveled and the black ribbons that had now become loose, clung to her two plaits for life.

"Driver anna(brother) forgot to pick me up in the morning and it had gotten so late. If not for that note Amma had sent , that silly teacher would have made me stand out of the class!" she thought.

"Hey !" she heard her classmate Maya’s voice. Maya also happened to be her next-door neighbor.

"My mom asked me to pick you up in our cycle-rickshaw" she said.

"Your mom?" the little girl responded in a perplexed tone.

"Yeah, she asked us to bring you along on our way home"

"B…But my mom did not say anything to me"

"Hey, Your mother was the one who told my mother to fetch you as well"

"Mother Promise?"

"Yes! Mother promise" and Maya placed her hand on her head to swear in the name of her mother.

That was the most supreme of the oaths in their class, Father Promise and God Promise following closely behind.

"Okay" the little girl  replied and climbed on to the rickshaw with some hesitation. She kept looking around to reassure herself that driver anna had not come.

As the rickshaw moved along, she started enjoying the ride. She had never been in one before and travelling like that through the town was so exciting.

The children soon broke into a medley of childish music. Ba Ba Black Sheep transitioned into Bollywood music in a few minutes. The driver slowly pedaled along, amused by the cacophony of their voices.

Devi was reading the latest edition of Mangai.(a Tamil magazine). She glanced at the clock. It was 4:30.

" Hope that driver went to pick her up on time! " she mused. Her husband was out of station. As always he had arranged for his driver to drop their daughter in school, in the morning and to fetch her back. The driver in question had totally forgotten in the morning and it had been a real hassle getting her daughter to school on time.

Then the telephone rang, its tone piercing the tranquillity of the evening.

" Hello, this is the principal of St Joseph’s convent. I have your driver here with me. He has come to pick your daughter up. Apparently he could not find her anywhere and so he went to the class teacher who in turn came to me. We have looked for her in the playground as well as the usual places where the children wait. My staff are still looking for her here. Please don’t panic. I am sure she is fine. I just wanted to check with you if you have made any other arrangements for her"

"No ma’m, she was supposed to come back with the driver"

"Oh, ok. She should be around here somewhere. You know these kids. I will call you back in some time once we figure out where she is. Please don’t worry"

And they hung up.

"Don’t worry? How can I not worry?"  Devi thought.

A million thoughts flooded her mind. "She normally does not go anywhere and always waits at the usual place"

She went and stood outside looking anxiously at the road that stretched in front of her, chanting all the slokas(hymns/divine chants) she could remember in her mind.

She thought of trying to reach her husband but decided to wait for a while rather than plunging him into panic as well.

The rickshaw dropped Vineetha first.

As they pedaled away, the little girl said “Her mummy is so pretty”

“My mom says its all make-up” said Kavya.

“Really? Its not nice to put make up !. My mom says its not good for our skin”

Soon, they came to Kavya’s house.

Now it was just her, Maya and Maya’s little sister.

“Kavya’s house is so big”

“Yes and she has three dogs, two white and one black. The white ones are po..po”


"Yeah Right!They look so cute"

“Thats so cool. I like cats better. My mom can look at new born kittens and say if it’s a boy-kitten or a girl-kitten you know?”

Lost in the stories, about their little world, the friends moved towards home.

As they neared the house, the little girl decided that she would scream “Mummy!”

When she did scream Mummy, she saw mummy’s face full of worry, anxiety and tension almost in tears.

Devi heaved a huge sigh of relief on seeing her daughter’s face. She quickly called up the principal to inform her of her daughter’s safe return.


This happened more than two decades ago and I was the little girl , that time around six years of age.

My friend’s mother had observed that our driver had forgotten to pick me up in the morning.

A good-natured soul that she was, she had told her daughter “Maya, You bring Jayashree along with you in the cycle-rickshaw, if her driver does not come in the evening".

My darling friend was also just six, so the second part of the sentence i.e. the if clause did not get registered in her mind. Her mission for the day given by mommy was to bring Jayashree along in the evening which she did promptly, just adding the extra part that the request came from my mother.

Then I could not understand why my mother was so anxious and worried. Now being a mother myself, I am able to clearly picture the turmoil my mother would have been in for that half an hour when I was so-called missing.

Every parent undergoes a lot of hardships and challenges in raising his/her kids.

My parents channeled all their effort and energy to give me and my younger brother, a happy life and to realize our small wishes as well as our big ambitions.

My mother has been a great friend and a wonderful guide in my life. She can read me like a book and a few words from her will usually take my confidence level to great heights. She has had her share of ups and downs in life and I admire her and look up to her for many a thing.

I dedicate this post to my lovely amma and I salute all the wonderful women out there beautifully essaying their role as mothers. Not just us the human mothers...the entire motherhood in nature - the cats holding its kittens by its neck, the deer helping its fawn on its feet, the hens giving warmth to its chicks, the linoess teaching its cub to hunt and the list goes on....

‘Happy Mother’s Day’


  1. It is the best responsibility and the beautiful relationship in the whole universe! Happy mother's day to you too!

  2. this is a blockbuster post!!! loved this sweet sweet story of your friend picking you up from school and her mother asking her to bring you along. absolutely loved this post. it has put a smile on my face :). yes, happy mother's day to the entire motherhood in nature.

    1. Thanks a ton Debajyoti! I am grinning from ear to ear after reading this comment,...It made my day :)

  3. that is a neat post--narrative opens up very well, intriguing, smooth transitions and lovely message at the end!!! Very nice post, Jaish!

    1. Thank you so much Bhavana..It really happened to me :)

  4. Aw..this one was so cute.. I could once again remember my school days, when my sister and I, along with other kids used to travel in 'the auto rickshaw', all our observations, stories all came back..beautiful post..and though I don't take any oaths now, I still consider 'mother's promise' the most supreme.. :)

  5. :) Thanks for the comments Sakshi. At that age a promise was a solemn oath something never meant to be broken ha ha

  6. Happy mother's day :) and what a great way to welcome it... :)

  7. Did your mother read this post? If not, please let her. She would feel so proud of you. This is the most amazing post on a mothers day. Happy belated mothers day to you Jaishree. Lovely post.

    It made me nostalgic too. 'Mother promise with our hand placed on head' does takes us down the memory lane. Wonderful childhood days are always missed.

  8. Yes Mak, Have sent the link to her. Need to check if she did read :)

    Thank you so much for reading and for leaving your comments.

    True! There is nothing like childhood. :)

  9. I finally started breathing when the little girl reached home. Yes, we all know now why our parents were so paranoid about us back then. But times have changed a lot. Those days were probably thousand times safer than the rotten times of today. A very well written piece, indeed.

  10. Thanks a lot Umashankar. Initially I thought of starting off with a 'This happened to me ' note , then I thought of this style as it would add an element of suspense...I guess it did! Thanks for the comments :)

  11. I am glad this had a happy ending, I started to get very anxious half-way through. I hope you enjoyed Mother's Day.

  12. Hi NixBlog

    Thanks a lot for reading and for leaving your comments. I did enjoy Mother's Day and as a mother of a 3 yr old brat every day is fun :D

  13. Lovely post! Very well narrated too..I was so relieved to read the part when the girl returns home safe and sound..I was actually imagining horror stories while reading the first part. Being a parent is so realise it only when you yourself become a parent.
    A belated happy mother's day!

    1. Welcome to my blog Uma...... if that girl had not come home safely then this blog wont have existed at all :D ...Of course you would not have known that till you reached the end :)....Thank you so much for reading and for the comment....