That place had been getting a lot of attention. A lot of unwanted, unwarranted attention in my opinion. I mean, who cares about being trained into becoming a blue-blood English spouting pariah, when your ‘friends’ already laugh at you for your inability to converse colloquially and double over at your innocently silly innuendos. But still, it gnawed at my heart that I still couldn’t enter there even if I wanted to.
It was painful, how could it not be? Wasn’t English a language? Why then, did I get laughed at for being so fairly good at it? Why then, did the neighborhood kid’s snicker and point at me whenever my mother made me sing the popular tunes while we were out on the balcony? Was my mixed schooling such an abomination? I wished, cried, prayed I’d lose that ‘Angrezi’ lilt in my voice already, forget English altogether. But then again, I and English were inseparable halves, of internal commitment, that went deeper, than even I wanted to admit.
News of that place spread, like wildfire. The neighborhood ‘biggies’ as they called themselves called out very hurtful comments, ‘Yei! Bilijirle! Allige hoge!’, ‘Bilimari! Oodi hoge! Illi yaake iddiya? All I could do, all that I did, was lock myself in my room and weep, till I fell asleep in utter exhaustion. A very draining daily practice.
Out of the blue, 2 days before I turned a decade and 5 years older, my father called me to his office room. My hair on end, I tried to remember everything and anything I may have done to upset him, as I walked the never-ending corridor towards his room. It was the moment of truth indeed, as dad stared at my worry line creased face; then is burst into laughter as I stared at him further dumbstruck. “Well, now princess, with such a face, I’m worried you’ll grow older than me pretty soon. I have great news for you! The British Council approved to take you in for higher classes and you’ll need to start preparing immediately. I’ll take you to their center tomorrow.”
The library looked quaint, just 12 racks of books. It felt really mechanized, cold with the A.C on high blast and pleasantly silent. Too silent. I pinched myself as Father finished the final part of my admission procedure, to make sure it wasn’t a dream. A big poster with ‘Welcome to the British Council Library’ screamed its welcome. I wandered among the racks and ended up in front of the Drama rack, where regally bound copies of the plays by Shakespeare, Marlow, Dryden, and others stood ready to be engrossed and lost in. Again, the question persisted, was this an epic joke or dream I’m falling prey to? “Well Darling, here you go! Which book do you want for this week?” said Father as he handed me a card. My Membership Card. Well, this sure was a change of pace for me at last. A place where I could belong.
Image Credits: Google