"LOVE'S LABOR" CHAPTER ONE 2010 CHRIST CHURCH SCHOOL,MUSSOORIE. Class Xii,Christ Church Boys School,Mussoorie,was up in bros,unwilling to engage wt the prescribed book. "Why do we av to read such a boring book for the boards?The class of adrenalin-charged,teenage boarding.School boys was a daily challenge that Piali,twenty-five beautiful and smart,tackled wt intelligence and charm. "Like it or hate it,we av to nt only read it,but also study it,because it is prescribed for us." She paused,"I knw hw u feel,guys."She moved closer to their benches,her voice dropped conspiratorially. ""Actually,u knw,as a student,I was nt a great fan of this classic either;it was only later,as a grown up,that I realized what an excellent piece of work this was." The switch from 'boys' to 'guys',the sharing of a personal secret,the shared feelin of initial dislike for the book brought abt an immediate lowering of defenses and helped create the bonding no other teacher could establish wt the boys.Beside,it was Friday,and it elevated the mundane weekday to the blissful promise of a weekend.It was also the year of Christ Church's Centenary Celebrations that had been planned on a grand scale,teachers had been told to condense the courses and the students were thrilled at the announcement.There was a general jole de vivre that set the year apart from other academic years. "Ma'am why is Estella so cold-hearted?How can Pip tolerate her?Look at hw she treat him." Dickens masterpiece found no appreciation among the boys and it was left to Piali to arouse interest in the text.In an old Institution like Christ Church where most of the staff was above fifty,Piali,half their age,enthusiastic,dedicated,full of new ideas,was a whiff of fresh air;her chiselled Indian features,flawless complexion and limpid eyes only added to her appeal. Agreed,but remember,Estella has been brought up to be cold.Miss Havisham,who was betrayed once,is now bringing up a pretty young lady to break hearts." "But just because ur guardian is a psycho,do u av to become like that? Isnt luv a biological thing?Do u really av to learn it,ma'am? Their tones were earnest,beseeching. "Makes perfect sense,what u say,but as we read further,the story wil unravel.Why do the characters behave as they do?Let's see. Or guys,do u want me to reveal the suspense before we reach the end? Piali knew how to keep the class on its toes.No matter how 'boring' the book,nobody wanted to knw how it ended before they actually got there. ..... The elite institution boasted of boys from influential backgrounds and from neighborin countries;the quality of education was a benchmark for their schools,and strict discipline combined wt a rare degree of bonhomies marked its academic environment for Piali,the school has been a major culture shock;the students were far more advanced and aware than any she'd known in her teachin career..Piali understood soon enough that she would have to respect there kids,not just lecture them.A quick learner,she customised her teachin methodology to cater to the students' profile and her people management skills,combined wt a strong sense of fair play and empathy helped her established herself is somebody the student could obey and emulate older ability to male literature come alive in class,her mastery over language that made learnin fun,and,most importantly,her control of boys double her size made her famous in the school.Among the staff,she quickly established herself as a diligent teacher who inspired respect in her students despite her young age,her abilities did nt escape the management's notice.Her confident and professional approach made her stand out among a complacent staff. Though the Brothers were kind to the staff,they were in desperate need of fresh blood,young teachers who were energetic,dynamic and proactive.When Piali had joined,she appeared like a prayer answered;braving antagonism from the old hands,they put her in charge of the centenary celebrations.
"Ma'am,as the centenary celebration organizer,what is ur one-point agenda?"
"I aim to make our centenary mega-fest a benchmark for our school;our efforts are directed towards that one end.Wt the kind of history our institution boasts of, we av a huge responsiblity."
"Could u elaborate ma'am?What kind of responsibility?
The responsibility to be the best,to carry on the legacy of the school and its rich heritage,yet strive to scale newer heights."
Piali was clear she did nt want past glory to be on impediment in the path of progress.Too often people did nt embrace change in the name of tradition.While tradition ought to be inspired,it often led to rigidity and,eventually,to fanaticism.So many nations took that dangerous road,so many households did.....
It was still sunny,past three-thirty pm,when Piali emerged from the conference room.The staff quarters ensconced amidst the hills at a level lower than the school was a seven-minute walk in comfortable shoes.
"Ms,Roy,a call for u",the secretary called out.
"Where from;Mrs.Menezes?Piali shouted across the foyer.
"Hyderabad,Ma'am.This is the second time he called.The first time u were wt the board,so I told him to cal after three-thirty."The elderly secretary furnished her wt the details as Piali took the call.
"Hello".Piali was breathless,guarded.
"Hey sweetheart".The penetrating voice sent her spinning.
"U tot u could vanish from town and from my life and I'd let u,".The tone held its characterisitic laughter.
Her palpitations increased,her throat felt dry,she held the receives tight and started towards the hills.How had Sathya tracked her down?
Sumana had strict instructions not to give her contact number to anyone;the other teachers did nt knw of her whereabouts.
"Answer me,honey"Sathya persisted.
"I'm nt answerable to anyone."
"Haven't lost ur edge,have u?"Sathya was scathin.
"Just ur mind",
Very aware of the public place the office phone was placed in and wary of Mrs.Meneze's sharp ears.Piali wanted to cut the call short."No,sir,this is nt the right time to talk to me.We r rather busy wt our centenary celebrations."
"Ha ha ha.This is hw u behave in front of ur father too.Listen,I want to talk to u right now.
Give me ur mobile number if u dnt want to be embarrased further."
"Yes,that should be a good idea.I'm available anytime in the evenin after five,"She made it sound official as she dictated her bell phone number.
"Five pm it is.And dnt give me that officious tone next time."His voice softened,"Luv u,Bindi.Talk to u soon".Before she could respond,Sathya hung up.
With laden steps,Piali started walkin down the hill towards wat was nw her home.She had known Sathya would track her down one day.Overcome wt emotion,she just wanted to be by herself,not plagued by staff wives offerin her adrak Chai.
A minute after five,her mobile rang.
"Gud time to talk luv?"The voice made her eyes moist.Piali tried hard to hold back her tears but they flowed copiously.She wanted to be held by her man and assured that he would set things right,that he would bring Baba around,that he would make her away from this life of isolation that she had imposed on herself,that....
"Dnt baby,pls dnt.I'll neva let u go;u knw that,dnt u?Pia,sweetheart,do u trust that I wil keep u safe?Tel me u do."
Everything he said made her cry more.She loved her father too much to hurt him;martyrdom felt noble when she had left home but the decision to leave Sathya in return for serenity at home had robbed her of peace of mind....