School holidays

Casting my thoughts back to my school holidays, there is only one summer break that springs to mind vividly. That was the one after our final year at school. Normally the school holidays are a bit of a drag. I remember learning to do a bit of needle work and embroidery one year. In our little village and nearest town there wasn’t much on offer in those days to keep us out of mischief.

My favourite subject at school was maths. Science was ok and languages came last. I can still remember the enjoyment that came with solving a mathematical equation. Our house was situated between my dad’s office room and the oil mill. Amidst all the hustle and bustle it was quite difficult to concentrate on my studies during the working week. I liked my peace and quiet and could sometimes only study when there was pin drop silence. So I would try and do my studying early in the morning or after everyone had gone to bed. Maybe my poor sleeping habits stem from those days.

For my SSLC exam I got 95% in my maths exam. I was quite pleased with myself, but maybe also a tad disappointed that I missed out on the 5 marks as maths is the only subject you could achieve 100%.
Susan and I came top in the girls section in our panchayath for the exams and I remember going to collect our prizes. My mum came with me. It was only a small function with a few panchayath members. My prize token was Rs 40, which in those days was quite a decent sum of money.

I know that Babu George scored the highest mark in our year, but don’t know whether we came second and third or if any of the other boys beat us to it. In the grand scheme of things none of these things really matter, but as I was reminiscing, I just wondered out loud.

I spent the Rs 40 on a stack of books, which would keep me occupied for the whole of the summer that year. The nearest English book store was in Kollam in those days and I bought a selection of Perry Mason books, couple of James Hadley Chase and one Harold Robbins. I still have some of the Perry Mason books at home and sometimes have a read when I go back home. I also remember my uncle raising his eyebrows when he caught me reading the Harold Robbins novel, after which I learnt to be more discreet when reading such books in public.

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