Going to heaven with a pencil box

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A shaft of sunlight... a daydream... and an angel's call to a better place.

Not a single girl in Montgomery Hall was ever touched by the shaft of sunlight that beamed its way in every morning during assembly in Baldwin Girls' School. As I watched it, day after day, one of my fantasies was that an hour would come when it would find me; and that that would be the beginning of a revelation to the whole school that I was someone really special, selected from the whole of Bangalore. The disciples would have nothing on me. I would be a "chosen one" at age ten. It would be several decades before I learned that spiritual vanity is one of the worst delusions.This daydream that I continually updated and enlarged, deleting and adding as the mood took me, always began with an angel floating in and announcing my name. "O Mini... " would come a soft celestial boom, "I have come to take you to your real home. You're just too fine to stay here anymore". How to make sure that no one mistook this visitor for the Angel of Death? Perhaps a shower of flowers like in the puranas would be just the thing. I would rise to my feet and by this time I would be floating as well, and move towards this grand creature with whom I would levitate gently. As all my teachers especially Mrs Sidney who didn't like me and the whole school watched astounded, the angel would hold my hand and fly me very slowly and in a stately fashion out of the hall. It would all happen in slow motion so that nobody who needed to see it would miss it. Never again would my house-captain call me an idiot. I wouldn't want to leave my pencil box behind so a quick visit to my class to pick up this mundane object, and without a word, the angel would take me where I wanted to go before leaving forever.

Three farewell visits.

The first would be to Albert Street. All of Richmond Road would come to a stop as we floated our way home above it but not so high that people couldn't see who the angel was leading away. My mother would smile incredulously and say: "So! There are angels after all!" A big pang at leaving Smokey my dog as he raised his beloved hairy black face to me but I would by now have become too remote to be touched by the concerns of mere Earth. The second stop would be to take a last look at my brother in St Joseph's European High School. The person I loved best, but it was time to say goodbye. What a pleasure to let him know that I was superior to him. He had to be made to feel sorry for all the fights we had ever had. After all it was now clear that I had been blameless all along. And how he would miss me! That thought gave me immense satisfaction. I might break my silence and say to him, "High-o Silver, away!" The only problem was that the angel wasn't the Lone Ranger's horse. Possibly a dignified wave and a nod before wafting away. Lastly we would go to the office of the Deccan Herald where my Father worked. By now my mother would have phoned him and everybody would be on South Parade (as it was then called) to watch me coming to visit my Father. At this point my imagination failed me because I simply couldn't see myself bidding my Father goodbye. To save his emotions and to state my lofty goal, I would say, "I'll appear in your dream and tell you who is taller, Jesus or Sree Raman." He used to sing Vallathol's verse describing Christ sitting down gracefully to eat. "I'll tell you if it is true," might be another suitable thing to say. What foods I would ask for in that wondrous place would be the next phase of my thoughts. Then books by Enid Blyton, (new, not second -hand) and boxes of Faber-Castel colour pencils would be a good first-day list in Heaven.But by this time the assembly would have ended as also my grandiose dream and I would be tramping my way on Earth to class V-A where my pencil box lay in my bag.



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