last week it was my daughter's annual sports day at school. The entire primary section had been practising march past and drill formations in the desert heat for the entire previous month. Teachers had been writing in the school diaries for snack and elektral water reinforcements, caps and towels to keep the heat at bay were being sent by parents everyday. Toshali kept on reminding me that the children had to be in school on the sports day by 2:00 pm sharp and the parents need to take their seats by 3:00pm at the latest.We did manage to reach somewhere between the appointed and the easygoing time. After ignoring the scathing look from my daughter I walked over to the ground and managed a seat at the far end of the pavallion. The ground looked ready for the kids, the positions neatly marked the captains politely helping parents find seats, the announcers cheerful and effervescent, all in all a well spirited day it seemed was about to begin.
I had a few moments on hand and very easily, I was transported to my school days, to our practises, the races, the disqualifications, the marches, the white ironed uniforms, the presidents and the prefects so smart in there official cloaks and badges, the school flag the trophies all floated past my eyes and it took the arrival of the chief guest to bring me out of my reverie.
I sat erect and attentive, watching the unfolding of the day's proceedings it was time for the march past, without consent, without notice once again,the march past of my school days appeared in my vision.. each step matching with the other, each arm raised to the perfect angle, not a single beat missing, the flags down and the heads turned in salutation to the Chief Guest, each movement planned to perfect precision.Back again to my daughter's school, I saw children marching by to the band, I could feel immediatly the lack of discipline.. my anger rose as I remembered the hours of practice, I could see the varying length of socks and hemlines, the slouches here and there, the mismatch in steps, the kids were mostly searching for their parents in the crowd and the look of determination that was a trademark in my days on the faces of the parading kids was totally absent. This were just some kids walking by.. almost as if in a park.. I felt disapointed to say the least.. just at that point my eyes went to a little boy in the group who walked with a limp, dragging one foot behind the other, then again on searching I saw a girl with a deformity in her arm. My eyes searched and in each group I found a kid who was different, who was glad to be a part of this ritual, who was proud to belong and who was smiling the widest.
Yes!! I shook myself out of my dreams and watched in respect as the school kids took one and all of their mates through the school march. This school was not disqualifying the kids whose steps didn't match, this school was trying to march to a common step.. I asked myself is it that important to have a perfect set up for anything in life?let alone a simple march past? I remembered the sorrow of dis qualifications, the ridicule of not being able to match steps to the beat, I saw again the smiling and joyful faces of each child with mismatched steps... yes, I realised its not always important to be perfect.. there is much more to life than that!!
Thank you Indian School Muscat.. for opening my eyes to the smile of each child on that hot afternoon of your annual sports day.