Remember that old cliché in movies where the step-mother deviously plans to send off the children to a boarding school after she is happily married to their rich father? This stereotypical portrayal of a boarding school as an evil unhappy place where children are sent off by seemingly malicious parents, is certainly questionable. Doubtful? Well… ask any ‘boarder’, and they will readily convince you that there is no happier place than school.
Of course, with the ‘boarding-school’ experience comes a whole package of homesickness, claustrophobia and sometimes detachment, but the same time one experiences the smallest of pleasures. I can never forget how receiving one letter from my mother would keep me happy for a whole week. Or the times when I got an extra ‘jam-tart’ from our dining hall bearer or slept for that additional ‘blissful’ hour during P.T. time because I had managed to slip away from the rather alert glances of the matron. Before I left for school, I could not have imagined that one ’jam-tart’ would determine my temperament for one whole day. Food, sleep and even parents had always been there without necessarily wishing that they would be there, but in boarding school, I learnt to long for things which had been taken for granted all my life.
Relationships, now had a whole new dimension to them. Friends were no longer those people whom I shared my lunchbox with. Friends meant the cushion I could fall back on at anytime. I never had to think before calling a friend with my problems in the middle of the night, I could just wake her up from the bed next to me. Teachers too, taught us lessons of real life along with our prescribed syllabi. There seemed to be a personal connection with them, the assurance of having an adult to help you take decisions. Of course we endlessly grumbled about everything from their accent to their shoes to the way they woke us up in the morning, but when we coaxed them to tell us about their children or celebrated their birthdays their was genuine concern from our side.
With the little joys came the bigger picture , the experience of being a part of a tradition of that has been looked up to for decades. The feeling that one felt wearing a blazer with the school crest and saluting the school flag. Those admiring glances from people when they saw you in the most sought after uniform in the city. Being a part of the ‘boarding-school’ fraternity , meeting celebrated alumni and building networks and contacts in influential circles.
Not that day scholars do not experience any of the above mentioned perks, but what makes a boarders life different is the entire package which is clubbed together so perfectly. There is education at all levels, in the classroom, on the sports field, on stage, on the dining table and one even learns from those late night walks around the campus. It is this ‘wholesome’ education which I am trying to advocate because boarding schools have on offer along with bookish education, lessons on a larger chapter called ‘life’.