Hriday becomes my schoolteacher

When my eldest brother Hriday came back from the Ashram, he used to pass the whole day chanting from the Vedas and the Upanishads. He was in his own world. We could not mix with him freely, as we did with Chitta.

At that time, his dearest friend opened up a school for young girls and asked Hriday to be the Headmaster. Hriday had his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Chittagong and he was a great scholar. So some of Hriday's time was occupied with teaching.

When my mother died shortly after Hriday came back, I was not being treated well at school. The other children were mocking me. In India, when your father or mother dies, you have to perform so many austerities. For one month, you cannot eat meat or fish. You cannot sit on a chair, you cannot use a bed or pillows. You have to wear a thick cord from your shoulder to waist and shave your head. We had examinations at the time, so I had to sit on the floor and write my paper. There were more than one hundred students and everyone was making fun of me. They looked at me like a stranger. The teachers were very kind and compassionate to me. They knew that I was suffering. They would scold the other students, but then, in two minutes, when the teachers walked to the back of the room to check that nobody was cheating, again those boys would start mocking me.

Here I was, the darling of the family, and I was being treated like an outcaste. Tears were welling in my eyes and falling on my papers. I will never forget. Even then, somehow I managed to pass my examination. And these are the same boys who came and ate at our place after one month when we observed the obsequies. At that time they behaved well.

My older brothers and sisters did not suffer in the same way because people of their age were full of concern and affection for the members of our family. But my family knew that I was being tortured, so my eldest brother said to me, "Come and study with me for a few months at our school." Even though the school where he taught was for girls, a few selected boys were allowed.

I studied under my brother for three months, up until we left for Pondicherry. Many years later, two girls from that school came to Pondicherry. They remembered me because I was the youngest brother of the Headmaster, but I did not remember them at all. Their names were Minu and Pakhi. After staying at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, they went back to Chittagong and got married.