Good old school days

Good old school days

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE

Representative image. AFP photo

Some episodes that took place during my halcyon days in school will remain etched forever in the memory. Those were fun-filled days and we relished every moment. But there were also times when we were made to pay for our follies like writing lengthy impositions for bragging in the class, running five laps of the school ground for late coming, kneeling on the ground outside the classroom for defaulting on homework, standing on the bench for giving out wrong answers to the class teacher’s posers and being sent home for not coughing up the monthly school fee before the due date. 

Among the stories is one that of an eight-year-old boy falling in love with a ‘pretty classmate’. It was 1969. I was in class III of a co-ed school run by Christian missionaries. The ‘puppy love’ began with the lad passing on a paper to the lass with the words “I love you” scribbled on it in big bold letters. Rather than opting to steal his heart, the girl promptly reported it to her mother who was a kindergarten teacher in the same school. The boy was not only admonished, humiliated and given the marching orders but had to undergo the agony of being subjected to umpteen strokes of the cane in full view of the class! 

The leafy open space in front of the school was our happy hunting ground. We feasted on the berries that grew wild, pouched bright-coloured beetles, butterflies and grasshoppers and wrestled on the grass. Once I took on a classmate— twice my size and a hulk— in a gambling contest and forced him to throw in the towel by managing to rub his hands on the freshly dropped cow dung that lay nearby. I was rewarded with a prize of 25 paise for my efforts which was good money back then — it could buy a masala dosa and a vada from a decent hotel.

My late father, employed in a defence establishment, enjoyed two months of annual leave he would avail when the schools reopened after the summer vacation. During this period, he would ferry hot meals for us at noon and treat us to cotton candies and kulfis sold near the school gates. One day, blissfully unaware of his arrival, my younger brother and I (both of us were in class II then) were playing a game of piggyback with the girls riding on our shoulders. When my dad suddenly wheeled into the campus on his bicycle, we panicked, dropped the girls and scooted to the safety of the classroom. Mingling with the opposite sex was considered a taboo those days and we kept a distance from girls when we were under watch.

How I yearn to get into the time machine and go back to school!