For the love of one’s roots

I hate to admit this I was not proud that I studied in Ammasandra. Ammasandra? You ask? Well, you are forgiven for not knowing this place. In fact, nobody I have met till date, knows it. Ammasandra I have always explained is a small town near Tumkur. Tumkur? Well, it is a bigger town which is about 50km from Bangalore. Thankfully, most people know Bangalore thanks to people like my husband who have been able to put it up on the map of Information Technology.

I spent my prime years of childhood in this remote place a good 15 years of my life.

In Ammasandra, everyone knows everyone this never helped. For example, If I had a fall from the cycle, my mother would know about it before I reached home. This didn’t give room to do anything because I knew that I was always being watched. There was always someone around to ask me to go home if it was late or ask me why I didn’t do a test well. That kind of familiarity was annoying.

When I finally left Ammasandra for good, although it hurt to leave my place of childhood, I was also eagerly looking forward to leap to the outside world and explore. It took me a while to understand that nobody would know me but what didn’t help was that I had to always explain my place of childhood education.

I learnt quickly. I started to explain that Ammasandra is located close to Bangalore. I did this for a while but then lethargy caught in and I mostly told people that I studied in a village. Eventually, I gave up that as well. I just didn’t explain or tell unless I was asked.

There were others who found it funny. “But, can you find the place on a map?” , they asked and I always laughed it off.

The sad part is I had always felt that the place stunted my growth as a person. I went to the local school, which had a library that was mostly closed. I was easily one of the best and I hated the fact that I could walk to school in two minutes.

At a disadvantage

When I moved from my safety net, Ammasandra, I found my peers more knowledgeable and widely read than I was. The worst was that they knew how to roller skate than to slide down a sand pit, which left me at a disadvantage.

So, when BM (that’s how we all called her), my childhood friend and also my classmate, chirped happily on the phone about the school, I just didn’t get it. She genuinely seemed happy and proud of our school.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better school,” she gushed. “Imagine, all our friends are doing so well for themselves. Our school with its own limitations, has shaped us fine and most importantly, our teachers instilled so many values in us,” she continued.

For a long time, after I spoke to BM, I was in thought. I guess there are always two ways of looking at things. While she had looked at the bright picture, I was looking at the cracks in them. I could either choose to feel happy about the opportunities I had or feel sad about the facilities I missed.

BM was right. I remember lessons of modesty my teachers taught me, the craft work my neighbour encouraged me with, the love everyone showered on me. Well, doesn’t it take a community to raise a child? Now that I am a mother, I know this well enough.

So, when I received pictures of my school’s alumni meet, it hurt. I wish I were there — just to enjoy the moments and just to let everyone know how proud I am for being a part of an unknown school in Ammasandra.

Sudha Subramanian is an independent writer based in the UAE.


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