In the month of March all the primary class students were given daffodil bulbs. We were asked to plant these bulbs into a pot and wait for the green leaves from the bulb to come out. After that we were to keep the pots outdoors and to water the pot occasionally. In a few months there would be daffodils 🌼, bright and yellow and smiling. A date was given on which to bring the daffodil pot to school. After our teacher checked and graded our pots, we had to keep them in rows next to the school building. We were all such happy kids, just like the smiling daffodils.
The school common area had an aquarium with a little colourful salamander. I always searched for it whenever I passed the aquarium. We also had a little white and brown Guinea pig as the classroom pet. Summer holidays were near and someone had to take care of this pet throughout the holidays. I immediately agreed to take care of it. If we could keep goldfish at home then we could definitely keep a Guinea pig! Right!!
On the last day of school I brought home the Guinea pig along with its cage. My sister was also excited and we were both so happy. On reaching home I told my mother that little Guinea pig would stay with us the entire summer holidays. My mother smiled and said that it was welcome but it was my responsibility to feed it and to clean its cage regularly. And also that I was not to lose it as it could run away when left in the garden. I promised to take care.
My mother took us to a pet food store from where she bought some sunflower seeds, mixed nuts and hay ( for Guinea pigs bed). Oh it was such fun playing with it and taking care of it. Guinea pig had tiny, bright, black, beady eyes and the cutest front two teeth. Such cute little ears and tiny paws with which it held its food to nibble on. My sister and I had a wonderful summer holiday and Guinea pig got our full attention.
When school reopened, I brought back the classroom pet. All the kids greeted it.
One of the most awaited classes during the week now was ‘learning in the garden’. We could tend to the school garden and learn about plants and insects.
The garden was more of a broad boundary that ran next to the boundary walls of the school. It was broad enough for many to walk amidst the summer flower plants. There were some trees too.
The seasonal flowering plant seeds were sown in the flower patches in spring every year. By the time school reopened after the summer holidays the flowers would be in full bloom.
I loved the hollyhocks as they stood tall and visible from my classroom window. There were pansies, flocks, poppies, geraniums and more. Little buttercups bloomed randomly. Bees would play on the flowers. The butterflies had problems in deciding on which flower to sit on. The birds were so many and so colourful that I normally lost the feeling that I was in my classroom. Oh how I loved the plants, birds and insects outside my classroom.
What I didn’t like was helping in searching for earthworms. We were being taught about earthworms in science and that they were essential for creating the best soil. So it meant we were to dig some out from the soil in the flower patch and put them in a glass tray, half full of soil and topped with yellow leaves. I could not touch an earthworm. My instant reaction was to jump backwards on sighting one. That was when Christopher would smile with joy and pick out the wriggling brown worm and gleefully keep it in the tray. Christopher was a good friend. He helped me in History and was my partner along with Kirsty for the outdoor garden activities. Kirsty was OK with the earthworms. She would laugh and make fun of my fear of the wriggling things. Anything that moved while I scooped out earth made me jump. Once the gardening tool flew out of my hand onto the playground. I had to explain to the teacher that it was an accident and I had not thrown it on purpose.
Michael and John, my classmates loved earthworms and even caterpillars. They were busy fighting over an earthworm. Cheeky Michael called all of us and told us that he would do magic. He kept an earthworm in one hand and said that within a few seconds that Earthworm would become two. We stood there while he kept his hands behind his back with one earthworm in one hand. Then he appeared to jiggle and squirm a bit. He shouted ‘Abara-Cadarbara’ and when he brought his hands in front to open his palms, he had two little wriggly worms in either of them. I almost screamed in shock as I realised that he had broken the original worm into two little bits. Both bits were squirming.
Michael told us that both these ends would live and nothing to worry about. He put both the pieces into the soil tray.
I had my doubts and asked the teacher if both ends would live. She was first amused at Michael’s prank and then told us that the head side will live as it would grow a tail end. But the broken tail side was dead as it could not recreate a head.
Michael was sad but then we had all learnt so much. Humans don’t have a tail so no chance of regenerating a long lashing tail.
Earthworms have enormous powers!