Thursday, November 22, 2007

More memories from school

- My brother spent the most time at St John’s, starting from Std 2. My sister started from Std 5 and I from Std 8. At first my brother was in a separate building, about 3 minutes walk from the “big” school, which housed kids from LKG to Std 4. But soon enough we were all three in the same building. I’m afraid I tried to pretend that they didn’t exist, finding for some strange pre-teen reason that it was embarrassing to have siblings younger than me. Of course it was impossible to keep the teachers and our classmates from finding out that we were – ahem! – related. One time some kid came running up to me and said “Your brother’s had an accident, he’s broken his leg, he’s crying in the auditorium”. I rushed down to the auditorium (but as calmly as possible because you see I didn’t really have a brother at my school) and pushed through the crowd of students to peer through one of the windows… and to my huge relief it was some other kid who was lying on a table bawling his head off. Not my brother. Just as I turned away from there, my sister came up all wide-eyed and anxious – evidently she’d been told the same story. But all I said to her was “It’s not Kumar”, and then I went off to my classroom. Because you see, I didn’t really acknowledge that I had a sister at my school either.

- With the three of us in the same school, I occasionally came in for the “why cant you be like your sister” variety of remarks from teachers of subjects in which I didn’t excel (which incidentally was anything maths or science-related). I know that my brother definitely got more than his fair share of being asked “Why cant you be good like your older sisters” – but then he probably deserved those remarks. Heh.

- Urban legends abounded in our school, with rumours doing the rounds far longer than they deserved. (I’m sure this happens in any school, though). The one that made the biggest impression on me was the tale about the kid from our school who drowned when he fell into an open drain during the monsoon downpours. He wasn’t walking on the pavement like he should have been, he was apparently walking by the side of the road. It could even have been a true story, because the kerbs and roads quite often were flooded knee-deep with rainwater… so the corporation guys sometimes removed the gridded manhole covers for the water to drain away quicker. Which is why, if I couldn’t walk on the pavement or tell where the raised kerbs were, I would walk right in the middle of the road where I KNEW for sure there weren’t any drain holes that would be left open! I risked being run over by rickshaw-wallahs and cars and scooters and buses, but at least I wouldn’t drown somewhere underneath the road in the drains.

- Mondays were “all-white” days - white canvas shoes and white skirt with a white shirt. The rest of the days we were meant to wear black Mary-Janes and a blue skirt and white shirt. I preferred my canvas shoes, so I would get regularly pulled up by the gate minotaurs (I’m going to leave that Freudian slip in, but what I meant was “gate monitors”) for being out of uniform. Until I overheard a classmate and got my perfect excuse - “The shop didn’t have leather shoes in my size, so my mother has ordered them specially from the factory/is getting them made specially at the cobbler”. And that was pretty much it. My permanent excuse, as nobody remembered it from one week to the next. It even worked on the PT teacher. (I should add here that my classmate’s excuse was one-time and legitimate.)

- Wednesdays were my favourite day, because there were only two classes after lunch break, then we had PT for the rest of the afternoon. Our school didn’t have playing fields, so we marched two-by-two to a municipal playing ground about 10 minutes walk away. It was a bare open ground with two goal-posts provided and just one tree to provide any shelter. Most of the girls in my class would just sit around under the tree and jabber about things that didn’t ever catch my interest. Very occasionally one of them would consent to play badminton but mostly they would just sit like gossipy old women. I used to envy the boys greatly because they never sat around – they were always playing football or cricket. It wasn’t done for girls to join the boys in playing anything. Bah!

- A few weeks before School Day, we would start practicing march-past in the playing ground – no sitting around then for anybody! Those of us that were taking part in various sports would practice for the heats. I always wanted to be the flag bearer because I was such an uncoordinated klutz. The flag bearer didn’t have to swing his/her arms, just had to hold the flag stiff and yell “Forward March” or “Eyes Right” or “Eyes Left” or “Halt One Two”. My feet marched beautifully in step, but could I ever swing my arms in sync, without hitting the person in front or at the side? Could I hell as like. But I never got to be flag bearer. That was always the privilege of the PT master’s favourite girl, Padmini. One of those all-rounder-type perfect girls who was the apple of every teacher’s eye. Bah again.

- As School Day came closer, we’d have classes only in the morning. All afternoon was spent marching and by the time we finished, we’d be absolutely parched from the dust and heat. No matter how much water we took along, we’d finish it in an hour or so. Some of us who’d brought along our bags (to save having to go back to school to fetch them before going home) would beg for some water to drink from the houses on the way. Some of the houseowners would threaten to complain (especially if the boys were extra boisterous) to our headmaster, but there were a few who were very kind. There was one old lady in particular, bless her kind heart, who would have a huge kodam (pot) of cold water ready just for us, every time. We couldn’t thank her enough, and I cant begin to describe just how refreshing and welcome that water was! She was definitely an angel.

1 comment:

mumbaigirl said...

v nice series. cdn't march to save my life.