As much as I blame myself for not being able to remember much of my school days, there are always 2 events that will remain etched in my mind (although not with the best-possible clarity). These two events made me realize two important things in life (in retrospect):
a) I do not make a good leader and am very poor at controlling or monitoring people
b) Although I love working hard on many things, I hate taking credit for that that thing I worked on – I am happy being No. 2 (atleast in my state of mind)
The events are as follows:
1. It was in the 6th/7th grade (I do not remember properly). The class teacher asked for nominations for people to become the class monitor (CM). There was a great deal of support to make me the CM (except for the fact that I did not want to become one). To make the process absolutely-democratic, my teacher allowed multiple votes (one person could vote for as many people as he wanted to, by show of hands). I voted for everyone, but me. Of a total of 60-65 students, I remember getting around 48 votes and won (reluctantly) by a huge margin.
The choice of making me the CM was fairly logical – I was the classroom-equivalent of the now-deceased former speaker of the Parliament Mr. GMC Balayogi. I was never the controlling authority, and was only the requesting authority – I used to request everyone to remain silent during the transition between one class and the next. But as was the case – no one cared to listen, and the decibel levels were at its peak then.
One day, the PT master (Mr. Augustine) was staking a stroll in the balcony, and he heard this hollering. He burst into the classroom (to a sudden pin-drop silence) and asked me to point out the person who was responsible for the noise that he heard before. I, being the most-scared person in the class at that moment, pointed out a first-bencher, who I knew was the meekest person in the classroom then (and who would not want to take revenge on me later on). The poor guy got a big trashing, and we were all ordered to go the ground for a PT break of 30 min.
I still owe that guy an apology. He was the only person who liked my mom’s upma (and I used to exchange my tiffin box with his whenever my mom made upma) and was a good guy. I hope he reads this and accepts my apology.
P.S. The “meek” guy is now a champion body-builder (my school friends would know who I’m talking about) and can bash me to a pulp if he wishes to.
2. I was 8th Grade, and I guess Mr. Inniah was our English teacher then. He finished the entire syllabus by September and asked all the 3 sections present to make put up small skits (one per section per day per chapter) from our supplementary book (“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”) and the winning section would receive some grace marks (I think this was the incentive) in the end exam.
I was very interested (probably because of the incentive) and took this task to my head. I tried to design the plays and make them more interesting in many ways, like using some common props, using sound effects, and also Indianizing the skit (all explained below).
Props: I got my classmates to bring various coloured shirts to wear during the skits, got one of them to remove his shirt (as the scene demanded it) and also used various left-over chart-papers to create additional effects.
Sounds: In a scene where Jim (one of the protagonists of the book, played by Joel Joseph) gets slapped by someone, I stood outside the class to create a loud noise (by clapping my hands) and the effect was reinforced by a accidental slipup that caused Joel to fall down at the exact same moment – this was the most authentic scene of all the skits – and everyone felt that Jim was indeed slapped hard in the face!
Indianizing the skit: I used some casual Hindi slangs (like “yaar”, “abey”, “kyon”, “chal yaar” etc.) to make the play more funny and put an Indian touch to it. It was appreciated by the teacher.
As much as I hated it, I was forced to play Huckleberry Finn in most of the skits. I somehow convinced everyone that HF’s role be rotated, so as to remove the monotony - the real reason being the fact that I hated to play the lead role, and would have played Jim, had it not been for the fact that Joel was perfectly suited for the role (and I had to convince him a lot for that too!). At the end, I was happy that we won (I think we did win) and didn’t care about the credit, as I was a part of the victory too, and that was good enough for me).
Just two small stories that I thought of sharing with you all.