I think behind every funny man is a troubled past or a weird childhood. Mine clearly falls in the latter.
When I was in primary school, I would love my science classes, because they would help me understand life better. Not that I became vastly wise after those classes, but I would feel qualified enough to spawn a few urban legends of my own.
For example, during a lesson in “Adaptation in Animals”, I remember telling my desk-partner*, that I could clearly prove we had evolved from reptile amphibians, because both of us, humans and reptile amphibians, had webbed feet, and showing him at the same time the webbed portion between my fingers.
My teacher caught my desk-partner “woowing” over my supreme knowledge, while I demonstrated my “adaptation” by stretching my fingers out. She made the both of us stand, while she narrated what I was upto, and the whole class laughed.
In another class, we were being taught the water-cycle. I understood everything she said: how the water evaporated from the oceans, and the clouds would precipitate over land and mountains, and how they would flow back to the sea. But, I didn’t get one thing. I got up and asked: “But ma’am, where is the cycle?”, because for me a cycle had two wheels, (three wheels for the bachaas, four for the infants). To which she tittered, and the whole class giggled.
During the maths class, I proudly told my desk-partner that the plus sign came from the cross of Jesus Christ. Irritated by these nuggets of useless information that I would proffer unsolicited, my desk-partner got up, and yelled to the teacher, “SEE TO HIM, MAAAAaaaaaM, HE IS TALKING!” I spent the rest of the maths class with my hands reaching for the sky, and needless to say, my desk-partner didn’t get my butter-jam sandwiches that day.
Earlier in my youth, hehe, (sorry, this is really funny, I have to laugh a little), I would come back home in an auto-rickshaw like a sardine. Before you recoil in horror, it wasn’t all that bad. We were as big as sardines then, so it wasn’t so much of a problem fitting 12 of us in the vehicle, with all our bags hanging out. Every time, it went in a pothole, or over a bump, one of our bags or water-bottles would be sacrificed to the wheels of the auto-rickshaw, or the following vehicle. 🙂
Anyway, so our ID cards would say the bus number or the kind of transportation that we used, so that it would be easy for any teacher to sort us out into different lines leading to the buses, in case our class-teacher was not present. For some reason, my ID card had something else other than auto-rickshaw, and my class-teacher would keep on telling me to get it changed everyday when she sorted the kids out. Of course, I would conveniently forget, because I would be fantasising about slamming some WWF wrestler’s head in a “Tomb-Stone” maneuver whenever I reached home.
So this one day, when my class-teacher wasn’t present, I was sorted into the bus line, and not in the auto-rickshaw line. I protested, but I was silenced by a loud “SHUT-UP” by the teacher doing the sorting; these dumb adults, I was thinking, shaking my head. So I got onto a bus, and my classmates on that bus were delighted that I was there with them that day, and we took out our trump cards, and started playing them, our favourite game.
Slowly, all my friends got off the bus, then the teachers, and soon the bus was empty, except for me. The bus-driver got a shock, because he had never seen me before, and even if he had, he couldn’t remember which bus-stop I had to get off on.
He then started to laugh nervously, getting palpitations in between, while I peacefully went and seated my butt on the engine. (Oh it’s very pleasant; if the engine is properly covered, it feels just like an electric blanket.) He would look at me incredibly from time to time, like I was a hallucination or a ghost there to torture him.
So he just took me back to school, hoping that I would vanish away, once he got off. I saw my mom at the gate, shaking the watchman by his collar. (We had just moved to Delhi, and she didn’t know how to speak Hindi properly, and had resorted mainly to sign language. When she saw that the watchman was not getting what she was trying to convey in her broken Hindi, she just grabbed his collar over the gate, and started shaking him and screaming, “WHERE IS MY KID???”.)
I skipped off the bus, and ran to my mom, and when she saw me, she was sooo relieved. I got 3 chocolates that day. 😀
There were so many such incidents that happened during my childhood, but I am happy that they happened all the same, for these are what memories are made of. When I am much older, these are all I will remember. If I didn’t have these, like my good friend Jan said once, you would go crazy trying to remember what happened back then.
*A desk-partner, or bench-partner as he is sometimes called, is a concept unique to Indian schools, present in all the primary schools that I knew of then. (I don’t know about today.) All students had to share their desk with one another student, or in some pitiable cases, the teacher herself. That student or, desk-partner, would have to share your desk in most cases for an entire year, or if your school was liberal enough at most a term.
Because of this, selecting a desk-partner was very similar to selecting your wife/husband as the case may be. A suitable desk-partner would respect your territorial rights on the desk, which in unruly cases, would have to be enforced by a discreet pencil line running along the middle of the desk; in really bad cases, it would sometimes be a chalk line with strict rules of engagement, which could involve throwing the other person’s stationery out of the window because it trespassed into your territory by a femtometer. Since such subtle concepts were imparted at a tender age in informal situations, it is not a wonder why so many Indian children grow up wanting to become engineers. In true war situations, one would require the teacher to become a mediator or an arbitrator, who would be summoned by a shrill “Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam, SEE TO HIM! HE IS THE TOUCHING THE MY SIDE OF THE TABAL, MAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmMMMMMMM!!”, at which point, she wouldn’t know whether to throw a Wren and Martin at me to shut me up, or to throw my desk-partner, who was gleefully transgressing the unwritten desk-rules, and hence making me scream, under my nose, out of the window.
In most schools, if you were a boy, your desk-partner, in all probability, would be a boy. But in some schools, where the boys were so mischievous, that the teachers thought having them sit with girls was a big punishment. It was a punishment for boys, because in the bus back home, they would be teased by the other guys. But what they failed to figure in is that it was more of a punishment for the girl. Poor girl.
Apart from being annoying, they could also be supportive, especially for a kid like me, because they would inevitably have pencils, rubbers, sharpeners, etc. which I would routinely misplace every week. They would pat me on my back whenever something went wrong (which was very rarely), and say “Koi naa“, would always share his tiffin with me, even if I didn’t like it. But the one thing I loved about having a desk-partner was the innumerable pen-fight games you could play in class, and the jokes you could tell each other and laugh over again and again. Aaah.. those were the days.