My seriousness and black ants

My mother would keep a check on my studies till 7th grade. We had minimum of six subjects in my school.  Mathematics, Social Science (which included History, Geography, Civics and Economics), Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology) and the languages English, Kannada and Hindi. . Before monthly tests and annual examinations, she would ask me to go through a couple of chapters in a particular subject. Later, she would ask questions given in the end of each chapter from the text book and from the Class notes we maintained at school. We called it, Class work. Our teachers at school would dictate questions in each Lessons and give us answers as well. We were supposed to study these questions and answers for the exam.

My mother would be very strict during the question answer session. She kept a wooden ruler with her which she used to punish me for my pranks during ‘Question Answer Session’. She would hit me on my hand and knuckles or whichever body part she could instantly reach. I would not have seriousness most of the times and would lose seriousness soon, especially when I would not know answer for some questions. Things I did which showed my lack of seriousness would irritate her. For instance, I had a sharpener, which had a glass cover. And then there were black ants crawling on the floor. They usually form a line and carry sugar or food chunks in their mouth. I would take the glass sharpener case and trap one of the ants going in the line. I then watched the perplexed ant inside. I would giggle looking at it get confused and run in all directions to find an exit. Probably the ant would see its friends and family outside the glass case and wondered where the hell this case came from? I would watch for 2-3 minutes and then set it free removing the glass case. I never liked to suffocate it. The ant would run to it’s folks grabbing the food in it’s mouth and join the line.

My mother who by now had noticed the long silence for her question, would finally look at me distracted and giggling, and give me one tight slap with the wooden ruler. Some of the days my grand mother would come to stay with us. Seeing my little play and get beaten, she would cover her mouth with her hand and laugh holding her breath, suppressing any sound. She was scared of my mother and more than my mother, she was scared of me. Getting beaten in front of my granny would embarrass me a lot. She would later come to appease and caress me with fruits and delicacies.

After I went to 8th grade I was on my own to study and had hence got some sense of seriousness.


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