Back to school.

Yesterday was Parent Teacher Interaction day at my kid's school. Parents meet the teacher once every three months to know about the progress of their kids. That is four times a year.

In my time and all, I got to meet my English teacher that many times only in my full school life.

I know. I know. My less than perfect education still shows up.

It was my turn to go with the kid. My wife had gone the previous six times. Gender equality is a loose concept in India. Like Safe Delhi, Aadhar.

I got up at 8:30, shaved and went to school at 9.00 AM. The idea was to start early, get in first, get out fast and finish it in a flash. A technique that works well in many places but for... well you know where.

The receptionist handed me a token.
"How many kids are there in the class?" I asked as I saw the token number.
"Twenty five." She said and smiled.
I was the last. I cursed and joined the crowd - the crowd of people who wanted to beat the crowd.

Ten minutes later, I was sweating profusely. It was nothing serious. I was just having a major panic attack. I am scared of school. Shit scared. Every other night, even now, I have a nightmare where my school forms the setting. Following two are the scariest, hence best, nightmares of mine.

In the first dream, the teacher asks a tough trigonometry problem.
Nobody in the class knows but for me. I go up to the board to solve it.
Standing in front of the board, I look down and see that I am not wearing my pants. Or my underwear.
So it goes.

In the second dream, I am sitting in an exam hall, confident and well prepared.
The question papers are distributed. I open the question paper and turn pale.
It is a Science question paper. And I am prepared for History.
So it goes.

I curl my fingers hard and suppress the urge to run away from that place.
I hate school.
The other places I hate are - college, office, house, road... so it goes.

I get up and go to the toilet.
The toilet: looks clean. smells good. but appears tiny.
The urinals, water faucets, toilet bowls, mirrors, everything has been fitted for kindergarten kids.
Suddenly the school seems less scary.
'I can do this.' I tell myself. I begin to feel relaxed.

Outside, it is the turn of the parent sitting before me to meet the teacher.
I could hear them talking from where I am sitting.
The kid inside is Einstein. Or so his father thinks. He is asking whether he should put the kid in Abacus.
"How about Vedic Mathematics?" The father asks next.
Then he wants to know when should a kid be introduced to computers.

Thirty minutes later I go inside.
The teacher hands me a report card. It is red in colour, as big as a weekly magazine and is folded into two sheets. I open the report card and see a table. My kid has been assessed and graded in twenty different parameters.
I study the report card closely.
The card is blue in colour inside. Small pictures of a butterfly, a balloon and two kids ( a boy and a girl) make up the three corners of the report card. There is a picture of a building in the fourth corner. It is a school. I know it because,it says so. Above the entrance of the building, it is written 'SCHOOL'. In block letters. No name. Nothing. Just

"Nice. Nice. Very Nice." I tell myself.

"Do you have any questions?" The teacher asks.
"Yes." I say. "Where is the toilet that you use?"