Hiranmayi and Bhanupriya were thoroughly enjoying themselves in Aizawl. For the first time in their lives they were living in the mountains. The days were always cold and the air fresh in the mountains. As far as the eye could see, there were tall trees. Occasionally the mornings were covered with light fog. For the first time they had seen a touch-me-not plant. On touch, the leaves of the touch-me-not plant closed. After sometime, they opened by themselves.
Hiranmayi started going to school in Aizawl. She studied in Class 4. Bhanupriya was still too young to go to school. Hiranmayi’s school was on the peak of a mountain. From her school, she could see the entire Aizawl. After the morning prayer she went to her classroom.
Sitting alone, Hiranmayi was feeling jealous of the other children in the class. All the other children were having fun with someone else. Some children would look at her and then talk amongst themselves. Hiranmayi could not understand a word as the people in Mizoram speak Mizo, which is quite different to Hindi.
Suddenly, two boys approached Hiranmayi. The taller of the two put his arm around the shoulder of the shorter one. The shorter boy hesitated, but the taller boy was egging him on. Once they were close enough, the shorter boy asked, “Tera naam kya hai?”
Hiranmayi felt odd that in the first meeting itself the boy addressed her as “tera”. She said with a hint of anger in her voice, “Mera naam Hiranmayi hai. Aapka naam kya hai?”
The boy noticed her anger, but said nothing. His face turned red and he got a little scared.
“Mera naam Danny hai”, he said a little afraid. He then hesitantly asked, “Tere baap ka naam kya hai?”
On hearing this Hiranmayi got very angry. “How rude!” She thought, “He doesn’t know how to speak to me with respect and also does not know how to respect elders!”
Without answering the boy’s question, she went to her seat and sat down fuming. Danny was crestfallen. He knew that he was the cause of Hiranmayi’s anger. His friend tried to console him, but Danny was not listening. At that moment, the teacher entered the class to begin the lessons.
As the day progressed, Hiranmayi’s anger subsided. However, during the lunch break when Danny looked towards Hiranmayi and smiled, she responded by staring at him with anger. “It is better to sit alone and eat, than to talk to such rude people!” she thought to herself.
After lunch was the Hindi class. Today the teacher was going to teach them how to form a sentence using a word. Today’s word was ‘kitab’.
“Maine kitab padhta hoon,” The first child said. The teacher praised the child and went on to the next. Hiranmayi, however, knew that the sentence was incorrect. She raised her hand and said to the teacher, “Teacher, that child’s sentence was incorrect. Instead of ‘maine’, he should have said ‘mai’.”
The teacher handed Hiranmayi a book and asked her to read from it. Once the teacher heard her diction, she understood that Hiranmayi’s Hindi was way better than the other children’s and maybe even her own! She asked Hiranmayi to teach the rest of the class and sat down in peace.
Hiranmayi was overjoyed. She stood in front of the entire class and started teaching them. Pretty soon she understood that apart from her no one else knew Hindi. And Danny? Danny did not understand any Hindi and was also not able to read a single word from the book.
Once Hiranmayi sat back in her seat she understood the incident from the morning. Danny did not know any Hindi, but he wanted to befriend the new girl in the class. The other boy had made him memorise a few words in Hindi, which maybe he had heard in a Hindi movie! Despite his poor grasp of Hindi, Danny had made an effort to come and talk to her.
Hiranmayi got up and walked toward Danny. She smiled and extended a hand of friendship towards him.
- egging – to urge or encourage
- crestfallen – feeling dejected or humiliated
- subsided – became less intense