PART II: How I Sleepwalked through School
My schooling started long before I started school. My mother used to teach me alphabets while she cooked food - on anything from an old fashioned electric heater (of the coiled variety) to a Coal fired one - this was the era of License Raj and a "Q" for everything including a Gas Connection.
We got our Gas connection much later, perhaps in 1984 (That makes it the same age as my formal education), that too because a friend of my father's was kind enough to pass on his connection to us - to this day we use the same one back home! It was my first lesson in friendships and relationships.
I joined school is a rather odd fashion. Due to my mother's ability to school me real well, I scored great marks in my Entrance Test. Unfortunately, no one told my parents that I needed to also prepare for my Viva! I remember a very British-Stiff-Upper-Lipish Mr Richard Ian Thornton (Our School Principal from 1983 to, I believe, 2003!) asking me question after question in his charecteristic, difficult to understand, soft and suave voice, and me the dim-wit-village-idiot looking on Blankly! (I remember - This is a Pencil is the only answer I could barely mumble out!)
Well, well, well - my father was not too happy for it. The apple of his eye had just bungled his chances of boasting about his kids (Big B did well for his entrance) studying at the most prestigious, possibly the snootiest school in town! Guess what - a mad rush at top speed standing in front on a second hand Bajaj Super followed - tears (Due to the cold wind dumbos) flowing down my cheek and as if this was not enough, an hour long session of "Nude Sunbathing" - yes this was before they decided that it was illegal for parents to suitably punish their kids deviant behavior - followed. Surprise, surprise, my school still thought I was good enough to be admitted, the only side effect of the entire episode being a slight denting of my ego and the near permanent tan that I got( Yup, I am tall, dark and handsome - just like them Italians - except the nose bit, which I inherit from a rather unimpressive set of ancestors!)
Despite my personal sleepwalking act through school, it was actually fun at Westcott Boys' (Bishop Westcott Boys' School for the uninitiated). It was actually more fun reaching school than being there - we used to get up at 4am and get ready for school which was close to 40-50Km from home (We were in a Hydro Electric Power Station whereas school was in Ranchi Town), we would take an old fashioned Jeep to School, Sohra, the Driver or Sohrai as his parents named him, being his usual cheerful self. We used to barely manage to reach just before morning assembly to recite our "Holy God" bit. Sometimes we would stop on the way to pick raw mangoes - and were resourceful enough to keep shaving blade and salt handy in the Jeep - and get late.
I joined 1A in westcott uner the able and subsequently ample presence of Mrs. Bawa, uneventfully got promoted to 2A - shit, don't remember who the class teacher was - and got rather unceremoniously passed on to the care of Ms. P D'cruz in 3A - I still remember toiling to "By Heart" the "I Saw a Ship a sailing, a sailing by the sea, I was it was laden with pretty things for thee" under her watchful eyes. Then I was moved to 4C - possibly due to my complete disinterest in studies - and do not remember the class teacher obviously because of my complete lack of interest in him!
5C and 6C was spent in the able care of the ever lovale Mr. Hansen and his booming voice, the admiration was mutual, that is why he requested to be promoted along with us to the higher class! My mother used to call him the "Lal-coat-wale-Sir" for his obvious love for the same Red-blazing jacket which he used to wear for all important occasions! 5C was also when Choubey - a classmate - first showed me a genuine, mint copy of western Porn - Long Dong Silver was truly well endowed!
7C was under the competent care of Mr. Sanyal and we all liked him, except for that one occasion when our only assignment over the weekend was to write "I won't do mischief in class ever again" a thousand times!
8B and 9B was spent under obviously forgetable teachers and by this time "Chakra" short for Chakravarty also had his strong and inept grip over the school administration and standard of teaching, but more importantly standard of Student-teacher relationship was definitely on a downward spiral.
10th Standard (Combined strength of 9A and 9B) was a saving grace spent under the able guidance of Mr. Mazumdar.
I went mostly un-noticed, except on those numerous occasions I scored a near perfect 99 in English Language and and Literature (Making complete sense of even Julius Caesar - complete original work of shakespeare, not a synopsis! A lot of my ineterst in Literature could be attributed to Miss Walker, who went on to become Mrs Kerketta, much to the collective dismay of a 60 strong class of -just-into-puberty-boys!- She was definitely good with her subject and also had a near mesmerising effect on us, especially with her habit of twirling her locks with her Index Finger - Left hand, to be precise). The other occasions was when an assignment I wrote for English (I remember it, it was a short story which necesarily was supposed to end with the line "..but when I opened the door, there was no one there.") got returned with the comment "Next time write an original short story." Well, Mrs. Kenswar, it happened to be well and truly original. Thank you, genuinely, for making me believe in my ability to one day, truly focus on, my writing, which that one sentence of your proved, I had in me. I wish someone pointed you to this Blog, despite all references to Sex, I am sure you'd be proud!
I scored a rather respectable 79% for my ICSE exams and decided to give up the "Never give in Dear Westcott, Strive to the set of the Sun, though you may not win, but you'll yet come in, if you will stick it through, thats the way we have in Old Westcott (1927 was when it was setup) - The best school of all, and we will strive (unsure about the exact word here) to its motto's power, till the last bugle call!" school song and move on to college - but that's another story for another day!
Non Nascor Mihi Solum - Live not for Self Alone! I don't know how far I have been successful in living upto that motto of my school.