As I walked into the building, nostalgia flooded my senses. That baby blue paint! They’d maintained it all these years. Then the sight of the courtyard came threatening to undo me. Eons ago, this was a large, happy, sandy place students would run amok in while waiting to be picked up by their parents. Now, even empty, I see it is only a tiny space for mini-people. As everyone was in class, the halls were as I never witnessed them except during toilet breaks, “excuse card” in hand —quiet and empty.
I had cause to visit my primary school yesterday. So quite the coincidence that WordPress should send out a “childhood” prompt today. The last time I set foot there must have been a couple of years after I “graduated” from the school, when I’d come to pick my little brother up. Way back in the 90’s. Being there again was awesome, humbling, exciting and sad all at once. The place I’d spent most of my days from age 2 to 8!
The memories came flooding. All good times. The only bummer I experienced came when I passed a lone pupil along the stairs. The school uniform had been changed! It was completely revamped from the weird, orange shirt-dress the girls wore back then, to this sick blue thing she wore. The school’s crest on the front pocket was also different, though the large, stylized initial “A” remained. How rude to disrupt my memories so. We were tasked with drawing and colouring that emblem and it was perfect the way it was! But the next thing that happened amply compensated for these alterations.
Back in my day, the school prided itself on being a bastion of propriety and discipline, and I’d casually wondered if it was still so. As the child made her way down the stairs, she dutifully greeted me with a “good morning”. It was not too common a thing to experience with kids these days. Vomit blue and awkward crest forgotten, I stood tall once again, proud to be an alumna of this school which apparently still churned out well-mannered little boys and girls.
Going round the back of the building, everything was almost the same, save for an annexe. The morning assembly ground. The play area with the see-saws and merry-go-round, now floored with grass instead of sand. There was one constant throughout my visit though. The sense that everything had shrunk. The spaces, the stairs, the building itself. What difference a little growth makes to the eyes of a person. And how glorious is the world view from a child’s perspective!
On my way out, a security guard approached me. The elderly man eyed me suspiciously, then asked if I’d attended school here. We ended up exchanging stories about the old Headmaster and other quirky teachers that had worked there. Apparently he’d kept his job all these years. I felt bad that I didn’t remember him, and wondered at what life looked like from his unique perspective.
I realized one surprising fact as I left. If I had a child of my own right here and now, I’d enroll him or her in the same school. That would be a big deal I think.