Relativity by Ishita Sharma

There was an incident in geography class once, in fifth grade,
when Chhavi couldn’t point out north east when our teacher asked us where Tripura was;
And this teacher was also of the annoying variety that assumed
the entire class’ dumbness because of the intellectual incompetence of
one child,
one twentieth of the class that is;
So in our next games period, our coach,
whose name I forgot and is irrelevant anyway
designed an exercise so that our class would never forget the compass directions,
(instead of the basketball match otherwise scheduled)
he lined us up in the football field,
on the other side of which was a peach coloured house, with a German shepherd barking on the first floor
on our right was the basketball court, and on our left was the little garden where the gardener grew his hydrangeas
so the coach told us to fix the peach house as north, so we were facing north
The east was the basketball court,
West was the little garden,
And south was the other end of the field,
What we had to do was,
Run to the direction he would yell out,
So if he yelled west, we would have to run and touch the fence that was around the little garden
And if he yelled east, we had to run and touch the basketball mast and so forth
We did this exercise for almost an hour,
After which our geography teacher would have been proud
And Chhavi was sufficiently educated,
And the German shepherd was nearly off his rocker
Seeing a horde of kids running and screaming in different directions,
I was sure I would never see directions in the same way,
And I was right,
Even today, I picture east as a cemented basketball court
And west as a hydrangeas garden
And everytime someone mentions north, I imagine
Running straight towards the german shepherd
But then, as existentialist angst sets in,
In due course of time,
I realise that the coach had fixed arbitrary directions;
The house was not really north
And we were being taught how to judge directions in relation to an assumed position
And maybe the basketball court is really south
And maybe north was the little garden
And maybe the house with the German shepherd was east or west
And not near north at all

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