For my Content Area Literacy course, one of the optional challenges was to write a non-fiction narrative based solely off one picture. I selected a picture that one of the other people in my cohort posted and decided to compare and contrast a typical school day for me in 5th grade and a typical school day for a similarly aged student in India. The websites I used are translated at the bottom and I was able to include some Hindi with the help of Google Translate. Enjoy!
Brrrrrrt Brrrrrrrt Brrrrrrrt.
The sound of my alarm clock jolts me from the depths of sleep, bringing me back to my little pink room. I roll over to look at the clock – 7:02 by this point – and take a moment to wake up. Downstairs, I hear my mother in the kitchen, bustling in and out of the pantry packing my lunch. I make a mental note to request a PB&J sandwich cut down the middle for tomorrow. Still in bed, I run through what the day will bring – Mr. Henley, my science teacher, hinted there would be a quiz today; I still am not convinced that in 5th grade we should have to start “practicing” what middle school quizzes will be like. Sighing, I push my covers back and reluctantly slide out of bed.
“Yoshita… Yoshita, Yaha jagane ke li e samaya hai. It is time to wake up.”
My mother’s soft voice floats through my dreams, coaxing my awake. “Time for school,” my mahr says gently, brushing a loose strand of hair back from my face. I groan, pulling the sheets up to my chin, tired from the long week of school already. Today is Thursday, which means we must spend the morning practicing our English nouns again. The sound of the mosque’s morning call to prayer interrupts my thoughts, and I head down the short hallway to the bathroom.
After wrangling my hair into my signature ponytail, I grab my backpack and head downstairs. I sit down at the kitchen table and pour milk over my Cinnamon Toast Crunch (Mom leaves the milk in a separate cup for me so it doesn’t get soggy). I hope I’m as smart as she is when I grow up. I enjoy the sounds of my house in the morning, hearing the sink run in my parents’ bathroom – Mom getting ready – and the rhythmic tapping of the keyboard in the office – Dad responding to email. After breakfast, and after teeth are brushed, it’s straight to the garage – Mom’s driving carpool this morning.
The bathtub is already filled for me as I head into the bathroom, thin curls of steam rising from the warm water. The small room smells faintly of candana, the sandalwood paste my parents use each morning. I ease into the warm water and scrub my skin clean, tinged with red dirt from the afternoon before. After I towel off and dress, I find a shiny red apple and a tall glass of milk set out for me by my schoolbag. I kiss my mahr on the cheek, gulp the milk in three swallows, and slip the apple into my bag for later, heading out the door to the bus stop.
Brrrrrrrrring! Thankfully, I’m settled in my desk by the time the tardy bell rings. Christina shoots me a look from across the room, motioning towards the front where our homeroom teacher, Ms. Lamarre, is writing on the board. QUIZ IN MR. HENLEY’S CLASS she neatly prints, with a smiley face added for good measure. I dig around in my desk for my flash cards.
I can’t seem to sit still during assembly this morning; the morning prayers seem even longer than usual. I’m still restless during Social Studies, barely managing to write down everything my teacher is saying. Thankfully, I’m able to relax during our art class – we’re working on making slender vases out of mitti, dark brown clay our teacher has brought in especially for my class. A warm breeze floats in through the open windows and I’m able to shape my vase without it leaning to one side.
By the time lunch rolls around, I’m regretting my request for tuna salad today. I reluctantly unpack my lunchbox and scope out what everyone else at my table is eating. The cafeteria is serving pizza again – the third time this week – a fact that, on the way to school today, further encouraged Mom to list all the reasons why eating a lunch from home is both nutritious and delicious. When Maddie plops down next to me with a large slice of pepperoni pizza, my stance that pizza is more delicious than tuna salad is confirmed.
During lunch, the cafeteria is serving my favorite, chloe bhatura, deep fried bread with tomato sauce. I sit with my friends and catch up on the latest gossip – Riya, another girl in Year 5 like me, convinced her mother to buy her a bright pink sari at the market last week. Though a lot of people wear bright colors, at school we are expected to wear our school colors as part of our vardi, or uniform. Riya put on her pink sari on the way to school last week, and was promptly sent home to change. People haven’t stopped talking about it since then – maybe that was Riya’s plan all along.
This afternoon, right before we head home for the day, our specialty class is library. We file into the media center and sit ‘criss cross applesauce’ as Mrs. Bowling, the librarian, requests. We get to check out new books this week, and I have my eye on the latest Harry Potter book. I hope it’s available to be checked out. I also hope the third book is as good as the first two.
After the bell rings, we run out into the heat, dust flying around our feet. Today feels especially hot, and I quickly pull my dupatta over my hair to protect the top of my head. I hear someone call my name and turn to see my best friend Vani running toward me, her long braid streaming behind her. We decide that today should be a treat day, and head towards one of the stalls that sells ice cream down the street.
By the time I get home, it’s almost 3:30. I grab a snack of saltine crackers and peanut butter and sit down at the kitchen table to do my homework. I struggle through my math homework first – will I ever understand fractions? – and rush to get to my reading log. Though Ms. Lamarre only asks that we read 100 minutes each week, I’m hoping to set a personal record this week of 550 minutes.
Vanilla ice cream has dripped down the front of my favorite kurta by the time I get home. Sheepishly, I slip by my mother and go to change clothes and wash up. By this time, the heat of the day is in full force, so I settle down for an afternoon of homework inside. The heat is so thick and permeating that I end up falling asleep watching my favorite TV show afterwards.
Later that evening, Dad and Mom make hot dogs and chili – one of my favorites. The tater tots almost make up for the fact that I had to eat tuna salad for lunch today. Almost. During dinner, my family talks about our days and what we did, I share what I learned at school today, and Mom and Dad swap stories about the happenings of the day. After dinner, it’s my job to clear the table and load the dishwasher before heading upstairs to get ready for bed. “Goodnight, I love you,” I say to my parents and head off to brush my teeth and go to sleep. Today was a regular day. Today was a good day.
For dinner, we eat we have shahi-paneer, a delicious mix of cottage cheese, rice, peas, and bread. We sit together during the meal and talk about our days and what we did, I share what I learned at school today, and Mom and Dad swap stories about the happenings of the day. After dinner, it’s my job to clear the table and wash dishes before heading to get ready for bed. “Subha ratri, mujhase tumase pyara hai,” I say to my parents and head off to brush my teeth and go to sleep. Today was a regular day. Today was a good day.