Some moments in life are worth remembering, you can’t let them off your memory bank easily. And when they belong to your school days, some have the memory like an elephant. I’ve got no rhyme or reason to endorse myself here, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my school.
Back then, there were too many reasons to hate school: draconian teachers, rigorous commandments, boring lectures, bullying & arrogant seniors, periodic examinations – which always made me wake up with the chickens and most despicable were the mugger fellows, who were teacher’s pet too. But amidst of many drawbacks; there were some highly compelling reasons to kick ourselves out of the bed every morning and get to school. Like waiting for crush’s glimpse, grapevines, silly fights, pal gangs, playing pranks & mocking each other, cracking jokes on teachers and of course, no worries (instead of studies). I now feel that school days were the most blissful days. If only time could return.
Gosh! Was that nostalgic? Did you go back to your school days too? Well, I have much more to say, but let’s leave that for some another day. And before you get further cheesed off, let us walk down to the playful event in the memory lane which never fails to make me smile even after a decade:
This happened when I was in ninth standard and if my memory serves correctly, it was early November of 2004. Our school, MCEE, was hosting a Volleyball Cluster Meet, which was a district-level tournament organised by CBSE. Nearly all prominent schools of the city participated with their respective boys and girls team.
It was a three-day event and on the second day, our school was to provide lunch to all the players and volunteers. All the students, if not players, were volunteers by default. So the hostel mess was to cater whole school plus the other school representatives.
It was post-noon of the second day, and the weather gave a little hint of wintertime. Occupying some benches under the cloudy sky on the basketball court, which was next to the volleyball court, I was engaged in a conversation with a group of students who were no players but estimated themselves to be the game experts (I too was and still an amateur to volleyball 😕 ). While being deeply engrossed with them, I was trying to decode the strategies of various teams (Trust me on this, faltu-batolebazi gives an out of the world pleasure sometimes). Suddenly, out of nowhere a friend bumped into me and irrelevantly asked if I had lunch.
I didn’t. I frowned and ignored him.
Putting an end to my ‘let it be’ expression, he added further, “Dude, they are serving MALAI-KOFTA and FRIED-RICE.”
He over-emphasized on sounds of the last two words such that I felt as if someone has just poured A.R. Rehman’s freshly composed melody into my ears. Upon hearing the name of those dishes, my hunger rose instantly. I could now feel mice inside my tummy, jumping and hopping, playing volleyball maybe.
I excused myself regardlessly and I started moving my butt towards the hostel. The distance between me and the hostel building, where they had the mess, was hardly 300 meters, but I found myself making leaps and bounds to reach there ASAP.
I entered the mess. It was a large hall and had a buffet system, and contrary to my expectation; there wasn’t any chaos in there. In one corner, chairs were arranged around some big round tables to make diners comfortable. In the centre of the room was placed a large steel rack, which had heaps of plates and cutlery in it. I picked up a platter and a spoon and rapidly moved to another corner where a large rectangular dish had Malai-kofta waiting to be devoured by me. I picked up the serving spoon and surfed inside the thin gravy in search of Koftas. But after a minute of effort, my excitement shattered because of what I found was just one marble sized ball! It was sort of shock to me.
“kya hai ye?”, I complained loudly to the mess worker who stood at the other end of the buffet.
“kya hua?”, asked a senior standing right behind me in a concerned tone. He too had a serving plate in his hand and was waiting for his turn to stuff the platter.
“They call this kofta, and that too one has to ferret out! And look at this gravy, itni patli?!” I said expressing my irritation.
“Sorry yaar chote”, he replied, and continued with a sarcastic smile “mai apni swimming costume nai laya, nai to teri help zaroor karta…”.