Leaving school is a big deal.
Especially if you have spent all fourteen years of it in three buildings, that remain uncomfortably familiar inspite of the varied coats of paint slapped on its crumbling walls.
And no matter how familiar, everyday you saw the spirit of what it used to be disfigured by a bunch of money-grabbing pricks who call themselves administrators, and everyday it felt even more like a stranger.
I had entered through the fabled gates of a celebrated quality-education-imparting institution in 2002 without complaint, barely three feet in height, a frown on my face while hefting a bag twice my size.
Today, 30 January 2016, was the last time I stepped on the school grounds as a formal student, and the heel of my five inch stilettoes wobbled every so slightly.
Till 8.30 am I had known I would not be attending my own school farewell because of a number of reasons, the summary of which is ‘because I hate school.’
But, my mother insisted, my friends bullied and a part of me wanted to obey the rules one last time.
So I dressed up, reluctantly, hesitantly, but sincerely.
I put Kohl around my eyes, and my mother helped me drape a saree, the symbol of a girl reaching her womanhood and the official Indian attire.
I turned up at the nearly deserted doorway to my prison thirty minutes late, but it was my day, and every year people usually waltzed in at a range of timings since, there isn’t a specific deadline given.
Or so I thought.
As soon as I entered, the guards started yelling and ushered me away from the auditorium from where I could here my classmates cheering with gusto.
And, I saw a dozen of girls standing aimlessly in their full-updo in the quadrangle.
Amidst the half-familiar faces I found one my friends’, and she informed me that we would not be allowed to go in.
To our own bloody farewell program.
Still puzzled, I asked her “but why?”
Because our Lady principal, the apostle of hypocrisy, rash decisions and offhanded cruelty had been furious because she had to wait an hour to begin the program, and thereby declared no one else would be allowed in.
Me: “So.. There was an actual deadline?”
Co-sufferers: “Apparently. One which most people didn’t know. They let in girls till 10.”
Me: “B-but its 10.20!”
There I stood, feeling absolutely helpless, confused and out of place outside my own school, and I wasn’t even surprised.
(My school has the reputation for doing the strangest things, including detaining the entire school at church for four hours because we weren’t singing the hymns well enough and allowing in random crass strangers for a small fee to our annual carnival. )
And it only got worse.
The very teacher who had been my staunch supporters last year when I had helped put up one of the best farewells for my seniors; coldly informed me that it served me right, and there was no way I could go in.
Then, this woman dragged along our coordinator, a woman who was the epitome of uncouth, who chewed random bits of food all day and ordered about students like we were her slaves to come and put me back in my place for telling her that there was no official document informing us about the time of the event.
She: what? Why were you late?
Me: The time for the event wasn’t specified anywhere.
She: if you of all people didn’t know, then I can’t help it.
Fast forward two hours where we do nothing other than curse our stars and take random selfies.
Finally, we decide waiting two hours outside our own farewell is insulting enough and proceed to leave.
The helpful guards don’t even let us do that. “Let’s get permission” they say.
So we wait, while they go in to ask the principal if we can go back home.
The principal comes out, looking bewildered.
She: what are you girls doing out here? Who kept you waiting? Ofcourse you can go in!
Looking absolutely bewildered, we file in to see the last ten minutes of the program, accompanied by the principal shrieking at our coordinators for not having the authority to ruin our day without her permission.
We hope for a happy ending now, don’t we?
Stupid, stupid Pandora.
We see a poorly mimicked version of the previous years dance performance, a couple of my batchmates fumbling at difficult questions on stage and some girls reading out essays on intolerance to half-hearted cheering.
And then comes the much awaited farewell video.
This video chronicles our senior year and is meant to make us miss school and cry.
The only touching thing about it was that they played instant crush by daft punk in the background and there were shots of the now-empty familiar rooms of my second home.
The split second of ohmygodschoolover feels disappeared within seconds, and it all became unremakably lame.
Till the next mishap.
That is, my food packet with its signature cold, tasteless food had a tear on its side, and my first ever saree was splattered with yellow curry.
Way to end an epic day.
More shit happened, like my friends car crashing while she was comin to school, the cab driver not finding us and leaving me hurrying about on five-point crossings in stilettoes and what-not.
All-in-all, school maintained its unflagging reputation for making me hate it, till the last fucking day.
Its finally over.