Slowly the summer drew to its end. Sam had gone back to school, and I stayed alone most of the time, waiting for him to come back so that we could talk about something. He was eight years elder, yet the only one who I could be most at home with. He seemed to understand me, and the fact that where I came from, things were different. But even so, the contempt in his voice was always there. He once told me, “You are lucky to have two families; would have been luckier if both were rich. I don’t see the point of being born in a poor family.” Those words struck me hard. It was sheer luck for the children you see, Mother and Aunt were sisters. If perchance, Mother had been married to Uncle and Aunt to Father, we kids would have switched places. He might have liked that, to see how it feels being born in a poor family. But Mother had taught me once, “Never blame fate. Never blame anything, unless you have the power to change it.”
And so it was that one Sunday, Aunt suddenly announced that I would be going to school. I honestly didn’t want to. I knew that all students in the school came from rich families who had spoilt their children beyond repair. I did not want to study with them. I just wanted to go back home. But I couldn’t. For who would I go back to?
School surprisingly turned out good for me. They made me join the second grade, and the initial month was a bit tough for me, for I had to study for an extra hour before school where my teacher taught me the alphabet. Once I knew A for apple, B for ball, she taught me numbers and was persistent at it until I could count till fifty. I picked up fast and even tried to make a few friends, who I managed to bluff by pretending I came from a well-to-do family just like them. My routine used to be fairly the same on all weekdays, go to school, come back, do some household chores, play a little game or something, have dinner, revise through what happened in school that day, then go to sleep. I used to score decent marks, good marks really, and was almost about to tell Aunt how grateful I am that she did this for me, when one afternoon, things changed a bit.
It was a Friday afternoon, and I had just come back from school and I heard chattering in the living room. It was one of those meetups that my Aunt conducted; she styled herself as the host usually, but that was mostly to get rid of the snacks that came home and were never eaten. I lurked over towards the door, and eavesdropped just for the sake of it. Aunt discussed how she was doing the world a favor by financing the education of an underprivileged child. It took me a while to realize that she was talking about me.
I learned that day what hypocrisy meant. Sometimes people did not do things out of good will, they did things so that they could put themselves in the limelight. She clearly did not care whether or not I did well at school or anything. She just cared about the fact that her friends would be impressed by the fact that she was spending her money on sometimes who otherwise would not have been able to attend school at all. I decided that day that I would never attend school again. And I think I made an unwise decision, for after all, as long as she spent her money, I shouldn’t have really cared, or so I think now.