‘Form a single file, put your finger on your lips, and follow me’, rang out Ms. Phadnis’s clear voice in the corridor.
We looked at each other with barely contained excitement, furiously whispering behind the finger on our lips.
‘No talking, Girls!’, Ms. Phadnis turned back to glare us down.
Like the little mice in the Pied Piper story, we formed a human train behind Mrs. Phadnis, whose long plait trailed down her back, flowers that must have been fresh in the morning, now wilted by mid-day adorning it.
We climbed up the 3 floors quietly, our dancing eyes doing the talking. Before we knew it we were standing at the threshold of the hallowed school library.
We walked in, our rubber shoe soles squeaking on the grey stone floor smoothened by the footsteps that had preceded ours. Tall glass-fronted shelves packed with colorful book spines looked down at us. Groups of polished and gleaming wooden tables circled by empty chairs awaited us. Sunlight poured in through the open windows and complete silence filled up the entire space.
‘Take your seats, please’, instructed Ms. Phadnis, and forgetting our manners we scrambled to grab a chair nearest to us.
When we were all seated, Ms. Phadnis asked us to follow our roll numbers and come up one by one to the high circular table she was now seated behind.
With a surname that started with ‘S’, I knew I was in for a long wait for my turn. I tapped my shoes noiselessly on the floor as I looked around. So many books waiting to be read! I was in heaven!
At last, it was my turn and I went up to the circular desk where I was handed my ‘Library Card’. I beamed with joy, holding the card reverently. After all the cards were issued we were asked to pick a book each, and once again we bid our manners goodbye and pushed back our chairs, and scrambled towards the shelves!
‘If you all do this once again, I will not let you’ll read here, girls! Full period you will have to sit properly with a finger on your lips! Now sit back again and get up like ladies, and not like hooligans!’ Ms. Phadnis glared at us from behind her thick spectacles.
Sheepishly we took our seats again, without scraping our chairs on the floor. We sat down, as instructed, and popped up immediately, like a jack in the box, taking care to push our chairs behind noiselessly this time.
This first visit to the library led to weekly ones. The Library Period was one period I looked forward to the whole week. As we grew older we could borrow 2 books at a time from the library and take them home with us. Upon returning them, we could borrow 2 more.
My love for Reading started at home at a very tender age, for we were a family of readers. However, the Library Period honed it. Thanks to the library period and Ms. Phadnis, I not only learned to read regularly, but I also learned to respect books. ‘No giving dog ears to pages! No folding pages! No scribbling on pages!’ her instructions still ring in my ears, each time I open a brand new book.
This post is a part of the Blogchatter Blog Hop and was written for the prompt, ‘Fondest school memory’.