Being short is such a pain in the neck. People call you names and tease you a lot if you are short. You would think they will get bored and stop one fine day. But that fine day never seems to come. It will go on as long as you remain short. In fact they get more and more creative in nomenclature. Its really not fair. Nobody teases tall people as much as they do to shorter people. Taller people are admired for their height while shorter people are sneered at, as if it is all their fault that they are short.
Now why am I making the heights about heights? Well, it is because of my own height, or to be precise, the lack of it. I have not received just one or two comments on my height. It grates on my nerves when people make use of my height as a standard unit for measurement, like, “She is quite taller than Nivedita”, “The shelf could be made up to Nivedita’s height”. The worst was “Her temper is as short as Nivedita.”
It is very embarrassing when people so younger to me are taller than me. They do not want to believe that I am older. They even think they can bully me.
I still remember that middle school ‘kid’. She was my friend’s cousin and so I knew her. When I was in 11th standard, my friend left the school and this girl was left in my shoulders like an incarnation of Betaal. Not that I had any responsibility to take care of her, but that she pestered me a lot.
During lunch breaks when I would hang out with my friends chatting, I would feel a tap on my shoulder. I would turn to find this girl standing about five feet six inches tall and proud! “Haaaii…Nive…”, she would say dragging each syllable to 2-3 seconds. “Oh Hi..Wassup!”, I would try to say as brightly as possible, ignoring my friends smirking behind my back. Now if both of us were in casual clothes, nobody would notice us. But her uniform was skirt and shirt, and my salwar-kameez told how old I was and how small for my age too. So people could not help but notice, give funny looks, turn and look again….and oh again or even point shamelessly, while I stood there feeling smaller than I was. She used to ask me almost everyday why I was so short. She did not ask because she wanted an answer to it, but merely for the pleasure of mocking me. I would somehow shake her off, occasionally by the combined efforts of my friends.
There was this system of forming lines at school, that everyone from kindergarten to 12th had to follow. It ceased to be strict as we went to higher classes but was compulsory for the lower grades. We were to fold our arms across the chest, and some teachers would ask us to place the index finger on our lips (Some dared to whisper behind their fingers, while some fingers ventured to small noses ‘treasure hunting’. Heaven forbid!!). Whatever they did, the line had to be maintained. And this line was formed according to the height. Now who would stand first in the line but for me? Every year I led the line to PT classes, music classes, to the library, mess hall etc. “Stand in a line according to your height“, the teachers would shout.
As we grew, we formed lines only for PT classes. It was awful during mass drills. Standing at the back, anyone can ape the person standing before him or her. But being first in the line I had none to see from and had to learn the drills perfectly. When there were chances to screw up in front of the whole batch, why risk? Bunking was not an option at school then, though some students managed to develop pseudo allergies and sicknesses permanently.
At least in the lower classes the teachers watched over us and maintained the line. But later on each stood where he or she wanted and there started the new line, branching from the main one. When I stood first uncomfortably, the girl behind me would try to console me saying, “The line begins where YOU stand” I was not sure if it was true.
Don’t I have ANY reason to be happy about being short?