Monday, 28 April 2014

Early birds and night owls



They say an early bird catches the worm. But it had to take more than a wriggly worm, not an object of my desire at all, to tempt me into becoming an early bird in my school days. It took my mother. 

By some divine coincidence I would always forget that exams were round the corner, as if they were one-eyed monsters dragging their many hands and feet towards me and my neck. Well, they were, but who wanted to believe that before the results were out, warts and all? So, for the most part of my school days, and especially for classes we hauntingly called ‘Boards’ (such a hoax!), my mother was more serious about our exams than me or my kid brother were. And she also believed (show me the person who told her this, by God!) that no time like early morning to study. Sometimes, very early. 5 am in those “crucial” days. It was almost like she was messing around with my whole genetic make-up, by forcing me to open those leaden eyes and mutating me into an early bird when my very genes were protesting to tell me (quietly of course) that you have been adopted, without doubt. I am sure I could sue her for this in a Court of Science. But I had my own science to study. 

So, with the valley stars still out and the gardeners and sweepers yet to come, the light in my room would be the only one switched on till all the way to Mussoorie, and me and my brother would be staring into the space between the two pages of open books. You know, the spine area. For it would be the safest place for the head to drop, without crushing the letters printed. Oh the tricks we tried! I would lie down on my tummy, rest my face between my hands with fingers in blinker-position, and snooze. Eyes tightly shut but ears totally open for footsteps coming to remind me of those monsters I had to pass round the corner, and with flying colours no less. My brother, the smarter one, discovered super smart angles to study. Where even closed eyes seemed open. I had a feeling one morning that he had painted his eye lids with black dots in the middle to confuse people around, but I can’t be too sure. My eyes were tucked inside my own lids, lids the inside of which I especially loved to admire those times. 

Needless to say, and since I am a safe distance away from those days, not a wee bit did we study in those wee hours. Or maybe he did, for now he’s a doctor, but I’m going to drag him into this without his permission. There is comfort in numbers. Plus, I know he used to sleep on open books. I know! If there is anything I could know in those days of sleeping with eyes open wondering why the ureter and the urethra look the same or why I need to know that ethyl alcohol cannot be drunk or how unfortunate that I cannot calculate my escape velocity, it was this it was this it was this. 

But college changes everything, this being one of the loveliest cliché. 

Add to it a hostel full of girls and every atom in your body gets a makeover, much like those black and white pegs in the board game ‘Othello’. Black becomes white. No, wait! White becomes black and the person in the mirror transforms into a being she would not have recognized one of those early-bird mornings from school. Here, she is a night owl. Here, all good things happen at night. All good things. 

You are productive soon as the sun sets, dinner had, mess exited and rooms entered – your own or another’s. Usually, another’s. A two-seater transforms into a train’s top with girls sitting wherever they find enough space for their derrière. And then discussions happen, serious ones. Warden and matron, princy and that-other-mahila-college. About cranky calling on the yellow hostel phone and who stands in a queue for receiving their after-dark fantasy calls. There is midnight hoot-hoot-twoeetohoo everywhere. Also, a no door policy, where you walk in and walk out of rooms asking ‘I need your iron. Is it still hidden in the bin after the last check?’ or ‘May I borrow a packet of Maggi? Promise, will give you a packet back tomorrow’ or even ‘Hey, will you put my bucket in the hot-water-geyser-tap line early morning? I have to study till late!

Study. Or something like that, needed no mother-figure to enforce. Actually, needed, but there was none. So from 10 pm to 2 am we would be seen with books around us and 30 days to go before those badly-printed university question papers graced us with their presence. While we did not have mothers, we needed company – as constant support against the the mosquitoes, the sleep, the hunger and the heat (Delhi is closest to the Sun in university exam months). In the common room we’ll study as one, motivating others and getting motivated in return - was our motto! Some walked around at sonic speeds slightly swaying as they read, others closed their ears to the buzz turned their backs to everyone else. Some, sans books, would be seen mumbling to themselves and others borrowing papers, critiques, odomos, tea, pencil, tuck, tweezers, erasers, rubber bands, books. It was a Study Carnival, and one which promised us good hostel days to remember, if not university marks.  Ahem!

But that was so many years back. You see …

Oh dear, I just heard the ‘rise and shine’ alarm going off. I better go shake my lazy 3-year-old up. It's 7 am already. You see, next week he takes his exams in the play-school. Colouring, tearing paper, stringing beads, identifying means of transport, and the usual S for She-becomes-her-mother. And no time like early morning to learn it all up! 

Isn’t it?

P.S - Mummy, I can explain. Bhai, this is a test to see if you read my blog.

[Written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was - Your time to shine - Early bird, or night owl?]

46 comments:

  1. Hey Sakshi

    Your post just transported me to my childhood, darling! #HUGSSSS I smiled all the way!

    Well, you clearly didn't need to study too hard, for I can sense your inbred talent to write! Muaah

    Keep writing....

    Love and BEST wishes
    Kitto

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    1. Thanks for all the love, Krithika. No inborn talent, really. For my writing too, I guess I need to thank my mum. ;)
      Thank you for reading me today!

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  2. I am one of those weird morning people. I function best between 4 am to 10 am and after 9.30 pm all my faculties shut down one by one. Ask me a question post dinner and in all probability you will simply get a mumbled sleepy response.
    Thank God I never stayed in a hostel for I would have simply missed all the post dinner fun !

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    1. I am a morning person all over again, Ruch. I will not say I am totally unaware of your 'slow faculties' past 9:30 pm, but I will say, yes, you do sleep earlier than most. Lucky you is what I will say!
      If you were in a hostel, you would have changed. No choice in the matter there, usually!

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  3. I guess all mums are alike. Though my mum was not a morning person, she did try to persuade us to wake up early. Alas, no one paid any attention. Me and my brother were night birds. It runs in the family. And if your brother is like mine, he is unlikely to read this. Sometimes I want to shake mine and force him to read my blog.

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    1. We must figure out a way of shaking our brothers to read us, Alka. Lets, please!
      Thanks for reading! :)

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  4. All mums are like that. Mine woke us up at 5 a.m. in Shillong and Kohima. When all we wanted to do was get 5 minutes more of sleep. She also gave us hot cocoa and adraki chai ... We hated her for that, but come to think of it, it meant that she would be in the cold and drafty kitchen brewing us our hot drinks. Mothers rock! Good luck to your little one for his exam

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    1. I know what you mean. I got my milk - hot and extra sweet - no matter what weather or how early in the morn. And now that I manage my own kitchen, I do know it takes a lot to enter it on sleepy mornings. :)
      As for little one's exam, well, that was a hoax call. :P

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  5. I am a confirmed night owl ,being forced to change by a weird morning person called my husband.
    I am proud to say he has not been succesful even after 9 long years..:P
    Loved your post..

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    1. Ha ha ha. I doubt if he will be successful at all now. Good for you! ;)
      Thanks for reading, Preethi.

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  6. As a night owl I can totally relate. Only my parents never asked me to get up early and study. But school was always too early for my sleepy eyes. And now I don't know how i teach for the first one hour in the class :D

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    1. They say life comes full circle, and usually with an irony thrown in. ;)
      Good to see you here, Mridula.

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  7. I am a morning person. I love to wake up early. But that was not the case when my mum used to drag me out of my bed to study. Now that I don't have to study, just type my way to glory, it is bliss. And do brothers ever read the blogs? I say neverrrrr.

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    1. We are in the same situation. I wrote this today before the house woke up. Yes, writing in the morning is bliss. Pretty much the opposite of what studying at the same hour used to be. But then, one was out of compulsion the other out of love. :)
      Our brothers need to be taught ... how to read us. How, Jas, how?

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  8. You took me down the nostalgic lane. My parents too took this early morning studying seriously and my mom would be on me at 5 AM. After a few failed protests, I took the same route as you guys. I used to lean on my study table in an angle that my mom can't directly see my eyes without me knowing. And then snooze..... But the ears would be very attentive for any noise to maintain the pretense in time. Ahhhh... those days! I swear to god that I didn't even read one worthy word in those wee hours that my mom could have let me sleep till 7 as well.

    About the college part, you gave such an accurate description. I literally have requested friends not to let me sleep before I finish so and so chapters since I was a sleepy head. My bio clock was big time messed up since all my life till college, parents got me up at 5 and had me to bed at 11. Here at college timings went to dogs and I ended up feeling sleepy both at night and in the morning. :)

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    1. Ah! It's good to see how strangers converge, over studies and sleep. :D
      Thanks a lot for reading this! :)

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  9. Oh! Lord! Sakshi! You brought back college memories and hostel life where we would be productive post 10 p.m after dinner, coffee and cigarettes..lol! A group of us studied on the warden floor till the mnin in Mumbai..needless to say we sneak out of hostel at 2 a.m with warden' son help to walk at Churchgate Station for anda burjee, chai and bun with butter and jelly:) Oh! the Geyser! so much! I hated studies at school coz Mom would be looming large, slapped me if I slept on those stupid books..yeah even far away from her, she would call to harass me...check ur time table for BA exams, buy additional pens...I never forgot exams but pretend they never existed even on eve of D-Day:)

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    1. Ha ha ha ha, your memories made me laugh. Thanks for sharing them, Vishal.

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  10. Sakshi first, thank you so much for stopping by at my blog. Now this made me smile all the way through. yess...yeah just that...haan aisa hee...the mind kept telling and the head nodding in approval. Finally the torch that Ma had...it's in our hands now...and as years pass you shall see...feel and know.
    Sometimes i scratch my head and remind myself not to become a cynic like my Dad and many yes many times i sit and wonder how i have become my Ma...

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    1. :) Lovely comment. Something to think about, surely! Yes, I enjoyed reading you today. Expect me more often! :)

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  11. Hilarious! Though I have to admit I used to be one of those early morning study types! :) I can understand the torture now though. I don't enjoy waking up early now, but my daughter wakes up really early, even if she has had a late night and straight away starts to wake the whole household up! Sigh…

    I blog here - http://off-the-map-mytravelogue.blogspot.in

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    1. I too am the sort, actually! If I am up I need to wake the household up too. I do feel guilty sometimes, especially on holidays, but I still do it. :D
      Thanks so much for stopping by, Chaitali. :)

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  12. By God. Looks like poor Nishad has his work cut out trying to find sly ways to catch a quick snooze at 5.15. After all, his mommy already knows each one that exists!
    Funny post, this. :D

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    1. :D Life comes full circle, doesn't it! :D
      Thanks, Rickie.

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  13. So has he Read it then :)

    I have been saved , being in hostel no mums to pester me .. but we had MR. SHARMA the housemaster in school.. who came out with a hockey stick, everyday .. and I know the reason now.. you see we had to get up when the morning bell rang , for PT or a early morning JOB and guess who was incharge of that MR. SHARMA, yeah .. so i bet it made him angry every day so he use to take it on US the poor kids :(

    but thankfully not for studies .. to keep us healthy he he he

    lovely post made me laugh


    Bikram

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Bikram, and sharing your sweet little piece of nostalgia. :)

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  14. I have always been a night owl. I don't know how I managed to get up at 6:00 during school, but have never attended the first lecture in college which was at 8:00 in the morning.

    Enjoyed reading the post. Reminded me of my fun filled days:)

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    1. Good to know you enjoyed this and went down your own lane. Thanks a lot for reading! :)

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  15. I am an nocturnal being and love the sound of the night . But as years pile on my grey strands , I realize that my body and mind is not agile as before to perform the gymnastics with the needles of the clock and prefer to retire to bed early. Being an early riser has many plus points but , but.........old habits die hard and it requires my son's college (early morns) timings to pull me out of my bed. Why doesn't the Sun oversleep?

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    1. "Gymnastics with the needle of the clock" - That's creative, Kalpana.
      As for the Sun over-sleeping, sigh! I so wish too.

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  16. My Mom found 4 am to be the perfect time to study, rather make us study. I remember how she had lied to my little sister that it was 6 am and made her read and write the questions as well as answers five times. I wasn't fortunate enough to get the hostel experience, so 4 am it always has been. :-)

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    1. Our moms should meet! :D
      I know, through 365, that you are an early riser. Quite early, actually.
      Thanks for reading this, Reks!

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  17. First time here and I loved your post! :)

    My brother and I were put through the same ordeal by our mother. We always took turns to sleep while the other kept watch. Haha!

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    1. Good to see you!
      Don't hide any side form my blog now that you are here and laughing with me! :D

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  18. NOW it is time to do unto others (your son) as you had done unto you? :)

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    1. Ha ha. You bet! :D
      Thanks for reading, Suresh.

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  19. Never had the knack to study in the morning either! Still don't... never going to happen! :D

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  20. I used to be a night person when I was a student. Staying up late to study, sometimes the study times stretching way into the early morning hours. Mom and dad always woke up early but it was our duty to get up, put an alarm or wake up. Strange as it sounds, they never woke us up. Now, I have to wake up by 6. Have to send two kids off to school :). Even if I try to, I can't sleep till very late.

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    1. That is true. My body clock decides for me how much I can indulge myself in sleep, even on weekends. Thankfully, not too fond of sleeping. But very fond of waking the whole house up once I am up. Pure evil! :D
      Thanks for reading, Rachna.

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  21. I am a certified night owl who has had to turn into an early bird thanks to my daughter's school schedule. While growing up, I could stay awake till the wee hours of the night. It sort of helped that my mother was a fellow night owl, so it was easy to convince her to let me stay awake! I am not a morning person at all :D. Now though, I have to force myself to wake up at 5, literally force! We leave home for school at 630 in the morning :/

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    1. I like 'certified', even if not in practice. :D
      Don't you remind me of leaving-for-school-at-6:30. My son's formal school begins in a few days' time and you know how my life is about to change. Yes, drastically! :D
      Thanks a lot for stopping by, Deeps.

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  22. This post got buried in the 'Oranges' and covered by the 'Chhaddis', so pardon my late appearance here :D
    I , for one, have seen the transition from the late-nighter to early-riser. Somehow at school n college, I was a nocturnal book haunter :D But my CA days made sure that I woke up early to delve into the mathematics of balancing the assets and liabilities and finding out why the debits never tallied with the credits or why we didn't have to pay Income Tax on dividends :D . Ever since it's been early rising for me, though I still fancy being on bed till 7 or 8.... :)

    Lovely post :) Imagine lying on the tummy with your hands cupping your chins....well well, they say, this position while studying is the best to fall asleep :D
    Yeah you owe that explanation to Mom :D Poor lady :D

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    1. I like how you put it. Covered by 'Chaddis'. Well, as long as mine, it matter not! :D
      "Book Haunter" would make a great title for a post. Sreeja, waiting for one from your pen!!
      Thanks a lot for reading. :D

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  23. loved it! This perfectly describes my current situation! My mum starts waking me up everyday at 5 so that I end up waking at 6 to study! The hours of sleep that our mothers sacrifice for us in such small small ways often goes unnoticed!

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    1. Ah! Current situation? Ah! You are a youngling, because for me this situation was at least 14 years back. :D
      I do agree with the sacrifice bit. They have no personal incentive but to make us get up and pull up those socks. If only we understood these things on ground zero. Realisations often take quite a lot of time to arrive. Mostly, when you are a mother yourself.
      Thanks a lot for spending time reading this, Ketakee.

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