“Let her (‘hembala’, our principal) hit on me somewhere out, I’ll punch hard against her pride nose”, uttered aman behind me.
I remember it was the first day after the summer vacations and we 12thies were back to the jail again. Yes, I do am talking about one of my school venture. Morning at 8, our class teacher, swati mam, would take us to the playground cum assembly arena (as alternate days were the assembly days of std. 6th to 12th). Each std. would have two lanes (one each of boys and girls) towering height-wise.
“Just let it go buddy it’s a headache of hardly 30 minutes”, I replied.
“Yeah! Yeah! Whatever.”
Beginning with ‘Itni Shakti Hamein Dena Dataa’ followed by our ‘National Song’ and at last ritually, ‘The National Anthem’. Till then, everyone would be anxious, wasted, anguished and totally exhausted. Each one with the same enragement, which says-“what is the damn need to pray in these heinous summer days, ‘good lord, save us’”.
The climax would be the ever hated speech part delivered by any 3 students from each std. and the most amazing part was-the students would be chosen by our hon’able principal. She stepped through the narrow lane to the stage, till then each heartbeat would be trans woof-erred. There goes the first kid from 6th, checking on his startled face, ‘abhishek’ (ahead me) pointed towards him and said ‘yaar! ye to gya’. It took no longer and soon came our turn and I burst into a huge laughter (managed somehow) when a name ‘aman’ echoed from the distant stage woofing out of the decade old speakers alongside.
When my boy ended his part, applauds were all around, even self-esteemed ‘Mrs.Hembala’ applauded with a smile. I was fascinated, even was everyone who knew that boy in person, a crazy looking and an ever smiling boy cracking jokes all around, made us feel proud on him. Well, that was the day when he introduced a real him, and nodded off with an empty look and was soon back to his position as the limelight followed him.
A pin drop silence for which we’re always barked upon was present without being told to. As he steeped onto the dais with that tense look, abruptly blushed and gave everyone a reason to smile.
“Son, I’ll appreciate if you deliver even two meaningful lines” hembala bitched as to pull him down.
“I am so ashamed here as I didn’t prepare to deliver anything”, he began as he grabbed the mike and his voice lowered towards the end.
“But I’ll speak as I believe in ‘Something is better than nothing’, with a bit of confidence this time and all glared at him sincerely.
“And my subject is- Cow.”
“Cow is very useful animal, who gives us milk as well as cow-dung is beneficial in many purposes. Seems fine up to here, in return this useful animal consumes plastic and garbage roadsides. You can see them roaming on streets as many of us would throw stones against them and what butchers do is can’t be elaborated here.”, semi-speech ends.
Though, some gave serious glances, a few were taken aback and some made faces as in humour.
“Guys! that was the only half part. Let me finish than carry on with your stuffs. And my next topic is- My Country”
“I can’t figure why but ever since childhood I was taught to be proud on my country because of its rich heritage, culture, sacredness and the peoples. I have spent all my eighteen years in this country, travelled quite a decent but nothing any of the above I have seen. Seriously?!! Which heritage? Which culture? What sacredness? And what about peoples?” said he, with some anger and disparity.
Till then, the laughter, the smiles and the hooting too went cold and each one was into it now, even the sixth and the 7thies gave their ears as if they are getting every single word.
“Instead, I went through everything just the opposite of which we are proud on. Such as, the corners of our so-called heritage are textured and painted well with tobacco spits, garbage and the garbage everywhere as I can recite a smelly poem when step out of the house. Coming onto the culture, even the no. of our religions are more than the no. of ice-cream flavours. Yeah! We have them in a wide variety. And talking about sacredness, there is n no. of people from each religion who keeps a totally hatred feelings towards the other. In many of our distant villages, it is still believed to be a curse for inter-cast marriages. According to them, rich should only marry a rich, a poor to poor, a Bengali to a Bengali, a Marathi to a Marathi a tamilian to a tamilian, a Punjabi to a Punjabi………as it continues. The one and only solution to all this mind screwing and discrimination things is ‘Education’. I have no more energy left to deliver more as the breakfast seem to be all settled down by now.”, my boy ended his part and nodded off with an empty look and was soon back to his position as the limelight followed him.
Almost half the crowd experienced goose bumps and some eyes were clearly went watery, just then ‘Mrs hembala’ dismissed the assembly by quoting as how she is proud to have such talented students here. She wanted to speak more but words failed her. So we marched back to our respected classes as none spoke a single word on the way.