out to me and would console me saying the books were for both of us. The most glaring discrimination against me was that I was not even put to a school till I was almost eight years old, when Reba masi insisted and took it upon herself to prepare me for a high school.
I still remembered the first convent school she took me for admission. It was Diocesan Girls High School in Elgin Road. It was a very renowned school at Kolkata its Head Mistress being the famous Miss Das. Every body said that Miss Das knew each and every student by their name. I stopped with a throbbing heart at the huge gate which was kept open as it was the time for students to report in the morning. I was bowled over to see the huge compound inside, the main building standing in the middle, a two storied yellow building huge and inviting, surrounded by green grass covered playfield, where a few gardeners were at work, it seemed . At the left side of the main entrance there was a small brick room, where stood the school darwan in uniform and smiling invitingly at us. From the gate to the building there ran a path of red bricks and soil and I crossed it with Raba masi with a trembling heart. I wanted so much to be a part of the school, it was a love at first sight. The written test started at 10.30 sharp. When I got the paper, I felt like crying. How could I even dream of being admitted to such schools; I did not know anything; I felt so utterly inferior, so ignorant, so inadequate, so inept. In the English paper I could answer the grammer part some how, but I was not at all sure about myself; but the passage writing was beyond my capacity and knowledge. First it was a foreign language, secondly I never was tutored in an appropriate manner to write a lengthy passage in English language. I could write small basic sentences that too while translating them from Bengali. To write about anything straight away in English was expecting too much from me. The Mathematics paper was equally bad. Rebamasi was not at fault, for she was, till then, not aware of my exact standard and level of education provided to me, or the lack of it. Masi took me to a number of renowned schools at Calcutta but we had to come back disappointed as it was quite apparent that I was not at all adequately prepared for the standard three levels, my knowledge of English and Mathematics being utterly inadequate for standard three.
Though it was not my fault that I was not prepared for the school, still I could not but felt miserable at my inadequacy. I felt so ashamed of my inadequacy. But apart from being ashamed and feeling low, I could do nothing to improve matters. Being a child I kept forgetting that I was a failure and acted, played, screamed and howled as any other child would and thereby fuelling my father’s anger to no end. On this matter my father, my loving and adorable father, failed me miserably. He kept on forgetting that it was his duty only to prepare me for the school, and if I was found to be inadequate, the onus fell on him and not on me. They way he talked about my failure really made me wish I could vanish into thin air or I went underground like Sita. He would say angrily “How can such a dull girl be my daughter. Look at Bumba how intelligent, how bright he is. “He said “Reba , stop wasting your time. You can’t make a house out of a donkey, however much you may cane it” and when he said “what is the use of scolding her, she stares like a stupid girl as if understanding nothing. It is so frustrating to talk to her, as if I am talking to the wall”. No body knew how hurt and humiliated I felt and how hard I tried not to show my hurt. Might be father took my studied composure and silence as a show of defiance and that angered him more.