Thursday, November 8, 2012

Winter Schooldays

Down with cold, think it will take while before the immune system stabilizes. Remembering Winter school days in junior classes when a hardy rickshaw wala used to seat us with ruthless discipline. He had developed a strong dislike for some kids, I was one of the kids who were commanded to push the rickshaw when it was slow or got stuck in a ditch. Kids used to indulge into heavy politics of reserving the center stuffed raxine seat. A younger brother would spread a towel and fiercely guard it against kids who forced their bottoms against the hands threatening to pinch. Used to be major brawl, next came name calling when kids used imagination wildly to distort names. My maiden name was usual target as Pathak was quiet like phatak, that is the railway crossing barrier but I dreaded worse discoveries. Puruthi became parantha, major harassment went on throughout the ride to school sometimes escalating to throwing of bags that hung precariously on the edges of wooden bench opposite the prized raxine seat. I still remember our rickshaw wala's rugged handsome face vividly. He would makes us run after the rickshaw as a few smarter kids lorded over the stuffed seat and we pushed or hung at the back with feet jammed on the single steel rod just above the back wheels. Extreme frustration led to my sneaking to the school by cycle, was in third grade. He used to wipe off the moisture beads with a rag that he kept under the seat. Children on the wooden bench kicked children on the stuffed seat as there was heavy jealousy. A kid who stayed in the next block, his name was Rajiv Sharma, he would tell us stories where he kicked and tortured lions and tigers and they ran for life, the most amazing part was he made us believe that he rode the Lions when he went back for summer holidays to his grandparents. He would not accept any doubts. The campus where we lived was beautiful, a UNDP aided training center. Vast stretches of wilderness were favourite haunts, often the tearing hurry of escaping after stealing vegetables or climbing across the wall to steal peas from the village nearby led to scraping of knees and wounds. To bypass the scolding and anger from parents, I had befriended the Doctor at the dispensary in hostels. All the kids in the campus had a fierce completion on who would fleece more stamps and coins from the foreigner trainees or instructors in the hostel. The hostel was far from the residential area so a friend of mine Tintu and I latched on to a leaving rickshw for a free ride to the main gate. This guy was funny he said to us now that I have you in my rickshw I will kidnap you and he started paddling furiously. I jumped as the rickshaw hurled towards the main gate scraping knees and elbows against the road, the rickshawala, got scared and my friend was dropped quickly. Going home with these wounds would mean lots of anger and then furious first aid so I headed to the friendly Doctor ad he bandaged the wounds. At home I would cover up with long frocks till an aunt who had seen the whole episode asked my mother about how I was healing. Then she discovered the few scabs. Writing after long but the blog is my space since 2006. Is sometimes good to read the things that came across at times.

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