As often said, what I had for dinner yesterday or the day before, I do not remember. But some incidents that happened years ago are vividly embedded in our cumulative memory power.
It was one of those summer months when the daily regime begins with the early morning wake up just by one call from our father. I was only six or seven years old, and the first activity of the day was going to the river on the outskirts of the city. The walk was two or three miles from our house. It was a stiff recreation but had to endure each morning.
Rushing back home, getting ready, and having a quick breakfast, I had to be at the school precisely at 7 O’clock. And I made it every day from Monday to Friday.
But one day, for some reason, I was late, not very much, maybe 10 minutes. My grade 1 class was on; I entered the classroom quietly, head down, and sat on my floor rug place.
The moment I sat, the teacher, addressed as Masterji, called me up and asked why I was late. Before I could gather words to express myself, he gave me a hefty slap on my tender little face.
I accepted the punishment at that age of my life. Perhaps, I learned a lesson too. Later in life, I felt it wasn’t kind on the part of Masterji. But that used to be the custom or common practice by teachers to slap young students, beat their palms with a cane, or make them sit in a weird and painful position with hands going through legs and holding on to both the ears.
Physically harsh punishments for young kids in their tender ages was a practice that I would now call it teachers’ brutality. And for me, I would never forget that slap.