It was after my 10th standard that I felt I needed to get away from the comfortable and entertaining confines of my home to focus solely on higher studies. My parents thought no different. And, that is when boarding school happened. Little did I know on the first day that that was going to be counted in future as one of the best things to happen to me. I was all nails and bites after my mom had unpacked and left with silent tears and hugs. After a while, the girls scurried into the huge dormitory after finishing their evening snacks. I was the new species and the center of all curious eyes. My warden was a young woman who had just graduated. She began breaking the ice by prompting everyone to introduce themselves to me. Few were warm and friendly. Some others muttered their names and shied away. I sure wasn’t going to give away the perception that I was a timid, shy and homesick newcomer. My socializing skills kicked in and I began settling in with graceful moves. By supper, I surprised everyone by moving around like I’ve lived and talked with these people for years. That was a good start. But, it was the silent night time, after everyone had retired to bed that the feeling of homesickness surfaced a little. I stared at the ceiling and tossed and turned but the unfamiliarity of the place wouldn’t let me catch any beauty sleep for my first day at school.
The first day at school invited a lot of staring and musing as well. I was communicating confidently to everyone but deep inside I was not at ease with myself. All the replies I gave to people had come perfectly calculated from my mind. I would register someone’s name in my mind and forget it before the next time we exchanged glances. But eventually, things changed for the better. I learned what it is to live together with a lot of people at a time. I experienced sharing my space and thoughts. Exam times were the most fun. The late night studying would tag along with it, endless banter, midnight snacks, and poorly made coffee. It gave the feeling of a joint family with only ladies in it. Dangerous though it may sound, we hardly held hostility amidst us. Where one was not good at, somebody good at would offer guidance. I had poor skills of grooming my hair and there was this hair expert who always attended to it. Someone flunked English and I was always there to make it easier for her. Certain someone always bestowed us with an uninterrupted supply of snacks with her generosity and someone never ran out of new books that we could lend from her in successions. That was a huge exposure outside the home. Sure, there were some downfalls but we learned from the mistakes nevertheless. Saying goodbyes at the end of the schooling was like bidding farewell to an entire lifestyle, habits, routine and most importantly, a whole