This was one last day I was dreading. Chiyaa 's last day in school. Chiyaa was counting down. While we waited every day for the school gates to open and the kids played around I could see her telling her friends how many days she had left. I might be the shy one, but she is the open one. Thanks to her, most of her classmates knew she was finishing school.
On the first day of her school, last year I had asked her if she made any friends. And she had said that she made one friend. She thought her name was Kashauna. Her name turned out to be Keshawna, but Chiyaa had got the pronunciation right. Over the days they would greet each other with elaborate hugs. Many a times group hugs which included Keshawna 's brother. If one of the pair was in a bad mood, the other could cheer her up easily. She did turn out to be Chiyaa 's first school best friend.
The last day of school, I felt very emotional. It was a dark, stormy day. It was as if the elements of nature did not like what was happening. While we were waiting for the gates to open, one of her classmates came and asked if it was her last day. She did yes. And he in all his naivety asked why was she going away? I told it was because her dad had found another job in another place. And I could feel myself chocking up. The return route was jam packed with traffic. The distance which takes me 5 mins took me 40 minutes that day. As I idled the car, I felt as if again some power wanted me to spend as much time in the place as possible. There would be no chance that I would ever be travelling this road again in my life. I would love it if the chance came. But I doubt it will ever happen. I reminisced the initial days - walking up to pick up Chiyaa with Pumpki in the pram, my good fortune at being on maternity break during the first 4 months of school when I could actively participate in the school affairs, the period of dropping her after the bout of chicken pox which was quite a restart for Chiyaa, the later parts when we started taking the bus to return home, and finally me driving her home after I secured my license. How things have moved on in less than a year.
When I went to pick Chiyaa up, she who is usually one of the first to come out was waiting. I had got some chocolates for the students and everyone was taking time chosing a few. She was waiting for her class mates to take the sweets. The teachers thanked me profusely for getting the chocolates. Most kids came out and the first thing they were told their parents was that it was Chiyaa 's last day at school. My heart melted. Chiyaa was holding a gift bag. Keshawna left a doll for her. And she had received quite a few cards from friends. One mom stayed back to wish us luck. I felt too touched.
I took a picture of Chiyaa next to the school entrance. She gave a vivacious smile. As we sat and buckled up in the car she said 'everyone got a letter but me. Because I won't come to school anymore right?' I said ' yes right. You won't come to this school anymore '. Then I asked her' are you feeling sad?' To which she very confidently replied 'why should I be sad?' I was so glad at her practical, resilient answer. Hope you stay that way girl!
Evening we video chatted with Keshawna and her mom. Her mom said Keshawna would be fine over the half term break but once she would come back to school, she would definitely miss Chiyaa. I imagined Keshawna looking for Chiyaa. In my mind, kids are occupied in class. But it's during the time before the gates open, during lunch and the playtime during lunch that they need the friend. They get comfort and security from that friend. I hope Keshawna is not left alone. I hope my child is not alone in her new place.
I felt I was leaving school. My heart felt wrenched. As if it wanted to remain here. As if it wanted nothing to change. I remember changing schools, many times. Once in fact when I was the same age as Chiyaa. For that matter when I sent Chiyaa 's picture to Papa, his reply was she reminded me of when I had left Central School. I don't remember exactly how I felt then. I don't think I felt sad. I hope Chiyaa is not sad. I hope she will get used to her new school, new friends, new teachers. I wish a lot of strength to my little fighter.