I was lucky as a boy. In the 1970s, my father chose to admit me in a public school in Conoor, in the beautiful Blue Mountains in Tamil Nadu. My school life was filled with happy memories and the friends I made then, have been with me through thick and thin.
We were a mischievous bunch of boys and some of the pranks we got into, still makes us laugh.
Our school was not a strict regimental kind of school. But at one time, when I was in the ninth standard, our teachers felt that our school was lax in its disciplinarian measures. So they recruited a sergeant from the Madras Regiment Center, which was situated very close to our school in Wellington, Conoor. His job was to be in charge of discipline and his designation was DC, which I think stood for “disciplinary chief.”
The new DC took his job seriously. He made us wake up at dawn and run almost 2 kms in the cold. He thrashed us harshly, when he found us slack or he made us climb about 100 steps up the mountain slope, as punishment for some silly crime.
Once when a frail boy had been made to run up these rough-hewn steps twice as punishment, we decided ‘enough was enough.’
We wanted to protest and bring the DC with his crude punishments to book. But we could not pay him back in his own coin, as it would mean immediate expulsion from school.
That afternoon we had a film show in our school. Once a month a big projector was brought to the school hall, a screen was set up, reels were unboxed and we excited boys assembled to watch a very informative film. That day, the film we were shown was about the independence struggle in India.
As we watched the non-violent protests of the Indians against the British by shouting slogans, a plan began to form in our minds. We thought we would copy our fore fathers’ methods and shout slogans too.
We made our plans in feverish excitement. The timing had to be just right.
Two days later, at 10pm, about 200 boys from the senior dormitory sat up in bed after lights-out. And in one voice that shook the stillness of the night, we shouted “Vande Matarm.” Not just once, but again and again, just like we had seen the people do in the film.
Our shouts of “Vande Mataram,” which actually means “Salutations to my Motherland” rang through the corridors and the school grounds and echoed in the mountains and in the valleys. It even reached the ears of the small village that was situated just above our school.
There was a flurry of activity. Lights were switched on. The staff, the head master and the DC ran into our dormitory. We were all hauled into the grounds, shivering in our pajamas.
But the best part was, about fifty odd men from the village who had heard our cries and imagined the worst, had come running to our aid with lighted torches, sticks and clubs just like in the Tamil movies.
It was a night we would never forget!
PS: Our teachers grilled us that night and also on the next day. Slowly our resentment against the DC’s harsh disciplinary methods came to light. He was asked to tone down his methods.
At the end of the academic year, the DC resigned from our school.
As told by : A.R.Sadurdeen. Chennai… Written by : Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo.
Photo Credit :AKARAKINGDOMS @ freedigitalphotoes.net