I remember the broad wooden steps. The broadest, woodenest steps I'd ever seen. Faint musty smell. High ceiling. As high as the sky. Forever and ever. I remember clutching mama's hand and climbing, climbing, climbing to where the spinning wheel was.
I remember blue desks. Blue chairs. Not green, not pink, not purple. Blue. I remember laughing at a girl who coloured outside the line. I always stayed within. I didn't think differently but I got a 'Very Good' in art and I was happy.
I remember carpets being spread out on the cold cement floor. Carpets vast and wide that stretched on forever and ever. We crawled and crawled, trying to get to the other end before we died of thirst and collapsed under the sun's harsh light. We slept on the carpet, eyes closed tightly against the demanding sun. The good girls always slept. The bad girls stood on the Blue Box.
I remember singing. The piano was on the other side of the wall and it took me a year to find it. Before that, I thought it was magic. The same magic that made sound in movies. Postman Pat. Ratatat. Magic. But then I found the piano. And the Music Faery sniffed a little sniff and flew away to look for the innocent.
I remember the long empty room where the sandboxes stood. I remember elbowing and shoving to get to the sand, not to make a castle or dig a hole but to let it run through my fingers, feeling the coarseness and warmth of each little grain.
I remember climbing the jungle gym. I thought I was climbing to the sky. Up up to where the clouds were. Higher and higher until a brat by the name of Tania Mirchandani brought me tumbling down.
I remember the fresh flowers on the teacher's table. I remember calling them Aunty, not Ma'am. Ma'am was still two years away and it was Aunty who sang with us and coloured with us and told us storied and made us stand on the Blue Box.
I remember leaving the little magical glade and going up stage to tell Ma'am Gangjee that my name was Trisha Dutt and I was in KG now.
The nurseries that they have now aren't magical. They are small and plastic and green and red and yellow. And the children don't know who the Music Faery is.