Updated: Jan 31, 2019
Lucknow , In the Early Eighties
Address – 4/A Park Road
This goes back to the eighties when we were in school. The story is about textbooks and how they were passed around
My sister is three years elder to me and hence was three classes ahead of me. In our neighbourhood, lived the Singhal Family, their daughter, Payal was one year elder to me and the Singals immediate neighbours were the Chandra’s where Bona aka Sugandha was one year junior to me. We were all in the same school.
And this is what happened every year :
Every time, my sister Manvi, moved up a class, her used textbooks were passed on to Payal. Those days, it was customary for students to write word meanings and scribble important points and underline text with a pencil. These books were then passed on to Payal who was a school topper and she would add her notes and word meanings ( remember ICSE English) etc and then when my turn came, the books came back to the Kapoor family to be used by me.
I used to love books and would eagerly wait for the new session to start. Our new session always started in April and April in Lucknow is magical. Spring ’s in the air. The mornings are cool, the leaves fresh, verdant green. Flowers everywhere Jasmine and the fiery Gulmohar.
I would yearn for new books and every time how I used to fervently pray that Payal tears up at least one of them so that I would be able to buy new textbooks ( that lovely fragrance and crisp new pages ) or I would look at the long list of books given to us by our school, hoping for some new recommendations
But you know what, that never happened
With a long sigh, I would get busy in covering hem up with brown paper first and then would put another sheet of plastic. Stick labels and write my name and a new class with a fountain pen, using Chelpark Royal Blue Ink!
They looked lovely.
And you know what... Once school began .....
The teacher would ask us if we knew the meanings of difficult words. My hand would be the first to shoot up. Not that I knew but Manvi and then Payal had already written the word meanings in the book. I had a secret ready reckon-er. Teachers Impressed and classmates envious!
I don’t know Bona’s ( Sugandha Chandra) story, once we gave the books to the Chandra Family.
Coming to the 3R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. It’s a fancy mantra now
I have countless tales of 3R’s which are unbelievable.
The sari that my mother would wear for n number of years would be later cut up to make cotton dupattas and the border would be used in embellishing a table cloth. Once we were done with the dupatta, it would become the dhobi cloth which he would use to carry forth ironed clothes back and forth. Once the table cloth faded, it was cut up to be used for duster cloths and kitchen swabs.
The eggshells after the omelette were transferred to the rose pots and the used tea leaves would go in some other plant. The vegetable peels were mixed with dog food to make it more nutritious.
And our faded school uniforms... well the blue skirts. The pleats were removed. The skirts opened up and out would emerge a shaded cloth were the folds beneath the pleats had the original colour. This cloth would then transformed into a Razai Cover !!!!
I sometimes wonder... I teach subjects like creativity and innovation, resource optimization and sustainable development from textbooks to students who are surrounded with plenty !!!! Ironical and hilarious.
It could be a generation thing or my mother’s fierce attitude and zero tolerance to waste. Don’t know that but my mother for sure is a certified modern manager.
I look back on those days with so much nostalgia.
As I go to college these days, I often watch mothers plying their kids who carry large, pink Barbie bags with shiny Spiderman water bottles. Parents striving to give their best to perhaps their only child. That’s fair enough. But lessons of the Sharing Economy are something else all together!