School benches and desks have a strange sort of melancholy associated with them. They are a reminder of the most memorable snippets of childhood. Nothing but shiny, cold slabs of
wood when they are brand new, they eventually morph into weathered, aged storehouses of memories. Year after year, they are dug into, gripped and caressed by new sets of hands, new sets of fingerprints and new sets of stories.
Sometimes marred by razor sharp compass tips in fits of childish fury, sometimes inscribed with profound, heartfelt declarations of love complete with arrow embedded hearts, every scratch on a desk has a tale to tell. There are random, meaningless scribbles made in bursts of boredom during a particularly tedious class, there are droplets of ink splattered where cheap pens once unavoidably caved in to their wielders’ violent jerks, leaving behind astonished splutters and grimy fingers streaked with ink for days.
Children have a strange urge to feverishly perfect autographs to prepare for their inevitable fame; they have urges to imprint their names, mark their territory. Students in the years to come will occupy these territories and end up subconsciously memorizing the solemnly scribbled names of their predecessors while wondering about the souls these names belonged to.
In a way, school desks are the best storytellers, they bear fascinating fragments of stories without revealing too much, leaving the listeners to run their fingers along grooves and ridges and come up with deductions of their own.
I’m quite sure that if desks and benches could speak, school would be robbed dry of its brief lapses of monotony. I imagine these riveting conversations would unfold in a peculiar
“To your right once sat a girl who was an obsessive doodler and quite incapable of sitting idle, the fading remnants of her crude works can be observed to this day. Look to your left and you can see depressions left by the thumbs of all the teachers’ despair, a brazen boy who jammed his hands into the desk in a fit of resentment. Straight ahead are the remains of the common battlefield of a distinctly notorious batch, where wars of tic tac toe were valiantly fought with mercilessly sharpened pencils.”
Then sauntered along 2020, the year that never was, it would seem. Not one nib so much as grazed the eroded wood, no nails were jammed while stealthily passing paper chits under it,
no new indentations were made, no nooks and crannies were curiously explored, not a pen was flicked across to win or lose daring pen fights under the watchful gaze of teachers, no stiff, sore spines at the term’s commencement grew to find great comfort in wobbly benches by the year end.
It was the year that would not be recorded on the testaments of school life. But it may be just as well, for along with a chance to forget the hardships that the year posed, it brings an opportunity to bring a clean slate with us next year; an opportunity to value the little things we took for granted most of our lives, to learn and grow, to laugh and amuse ourselves
to our heart’s content after being cooped up for months and, most importantly, to make the most of the fleeting years that will be over before we know it.
-Ishita Somwanshi 10F.