The bell punctures the silence in the school like a pin punctures a fully blown balloon. The whole school explodes with loud cries of joy.
I quickly stuff my books into my bag and head out of the classroom. The teacher has already left. He is one of the first to leave. I am one of the last. We jostle and push to get through the narrow door. Outside the classroom, the whole school is alive with activity. Everyone has a smile on his or her face, and why not? We are all going home after six hours of slogging in school.
The younger children run towards their waiting buses or cars. The older ones walk briskly. There is laughter in the air as we merrily make our way out of school. Some of us have transport waiting for us. Some walk home. I am one of those who head towards the bicycle shed to get our bicycles.
I wait for others to get their bicycles before I get mine. Then I mount up and slowly make my way between other riders and pedestrians. The horde of children heading towards the school’s main gate is quite daunting. I have to be careful so that I do not knock into someone. I have near misses a couple of times. Otherwise, I manage to keep going although not as quickly as I like.
look around me. Like ants, the children stream out of the classrooms towards the gate. It is quite a sight to watch this uniformed brigade. Someone-shouts behind me, He asks me to go faster or get out of his way. I indicate to him that I cannot possibly move faster, He sighs. I move forward a bit.
There are some richer kids on motorcycles. They make a lot of noise on their machines. Obviously they have modified their exhaust pipes to make as much noise as possible. They press their horns incessantly adding to the discomfort of breathing in their bluish exhaust smoke. A few heated words are exchanged.
Gradually, the stream of children peters out and movement becomes easier. The motorcycles disappear out of the main gate first; raising tempers and clouds of smoke. I pedal carefully in between those on foot. I stop to say something to a friend near the gate. The rest of the traffic stream past me.
When we finish talking, I look around. The school is virtually empty. Almost everyone has gone. Only a few children wait for their cars under the shade of the Angsana tree.
Then the teachers begin to leave the school. Most of them have cars. I watch them come out of the staff room and enter their cars. One by one they make their way out of the school. Some of them smile or wave at me. I smile or wave back.
Finally, everything is quiet around me. I say goodbye to my friend, give the bicycle a push and soon I am on the road home.
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