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First day at school

Daughter went to school today.

Her first day of education.
A milestone –
The ‘first time’ of everything.
Not long ago,
She had said her first word.
Looked into my eyes, smiled,
And said –
Amma!

And not long before that
She took her first steps.
She stood on her own legs,
And walked to daddy.
And daddy…
Well daddy was crying.
It is in tears
That joy blossoms.

And today baby went to school.
Is she already so big?
Will she soon be
Fighting with boys?
Competing with girls?
And one day
Tell me that so-and-so
Will be her life-partner?

That will take time,
She just went to school today.

All smiles for a new dress –
Striped white blouse
Kerchief tucked in neatly
Navy blue pinafore
And matching ribbons.
Shining black shoes
And socks to match.
Mother’s proud daughter.

Bright new school-bag,
With gleaming buckles.
In it a drawing-book,
Pencils, crayons,
Rubber and sharpener.
Fancy pencil-case,
With pop-up animals
And the sounds of a piano.

Tiffin-box
With sandwiches
Biscuits and chocolate.
All for the crows;
My daughter is generous.
Water-bottle
Filled with her favourite
Apple-juice,
Hanging by her side.

There is a skip in her tread
A new day, a new joy
For a soul untouched
By textbooks and indoctrination.
Some new adventure with daddy.
But daddy – daddy is grim
A brave new world to face
Exams, homework, report-cards.

The school gates clang shut.
Daughter is inside, crying.
Daddy is outside, crying.
The first pang of separation.
My little daughter is alone
It’s a big, bad place out there.
A harsh, thoughtless world
Has imposed its first lesson.

Daughter went to school today.

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