Of Effort And Trust – Part 1

“The greater the rise, the harder the fall”. But what of people who have never climbed, can they ever fall? Is there something lower than the ground(a pit is also ground at the bottom)? These are the questions that come to mind when I think of how I joined the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School.

Legend has it(well actually I was told by my family) that, the first time around, they had actually taken me to join in the 1st Standard itself. Munni Aunty(hereinafter referred to as HM a.k.a Principal, for the rest of the blog, even if otherwise specified) had asked me my name, and I just stared from HM to my family and back(and back and forth a few more times). For those who didn’t get the joke, I had done my Kindergarten in Telugu medium and those were as far as I remember, probably the first words of English I ever heard in my life. Hell, I didn’t even know what language was being talked around me.

There was some discussion and some pleading(voice-reading?), after which I was taken back home. I didn’t even know what had happened and asked whether I was in or out. Everyone just laughed and said “your time hasn’t yet come”. So I came to join Bala Sankara Vidyalaya or whatever school it was, that was in T. Nagar. I was made to stay at my grandfather’s house, as it was only a few hundred feet from the school, and my parents were in Guntakal at that time.

I was told that I had one year to learn English and join the school I was earlier taken to, or continue in the school I was forced to join. Sometimes I think, I was made to join a Tamil school(a language that was completely alien to me) in order to force me to learn English. I jumped to the task only because of one reason, the Elephant Slide in the playground. When I had come to take admission in 1st Standard, I was really fascinated by seeing other children emerging from the head of the Elephant and sliding down its trunk. I badly wanted to slide down its trunk, and besides the school I was made to join didn’t even have a decent playground. Thus the one and only deciding factor for me to learn English was the Elephant Slide.

Nobody in the house were well-versed in the language. So the only alternative was to learn it myself. My grandfather taught me the alphabet and I figured writing it out on my own (so you now know why my handwriting is so impressively illegible). I was given only one exercise the whole of my 1st Standard, to read aloud the newspaper everyday morning. In those we used to subscribe to The Hindu(and I believe we still do), and as soon as the paper came flying through the gate, until the time to leave for school, the only task I was assigned, was to read the paper aloud and my grandfather would stop me at every sentence and make me pronounce the words right. He would then make me read the line again until I got the word right. Well, it was really bothersome, but only for the first 3-4 months, after which I had got a good hang on the words. Then came an unexpected blow to my skill, seeing that I was blazing through the paper, he made me hold a dictionary in one hand, and would suddenly stop me and ask me the meaning of a word I had just read. This exercise which lasted for about 6 months really took away all the juice that was left in my brain, and filled it with God alone knows what. The last two months were spent in an even more bizarre ritual, knowing that I could tell him the meanings of almost any word in the paper, he began asking me the meaning of the paragraph I had just read, and what I had understood from it.

Thankfully, the most gruelling year of my life came to a quick end(with the final exams turning out the way they did, as described in the previous post), and I was all set to apply again to the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School(Primary School hereafterwards).

I remember we had arrived a day early, and spent the night before the entrance rehearsing dialogues in English, while my family was busy stitching my initials(PTK) onto all my clothes, which in itself was a big motivator. Well, to understand the significance of this, you have to first understand the procedure.

After a prospective student writes the entrance exam, he or she is sent back and then a call letter is sent informing the parents about the admission and attached to it would be a list of clothes that were required for the year(for all the subsequent years, the ‘clothes list’ letter was the only way I knew I had been promoted to the next class).

The fact that my parents were stitching/engraving my initials on my clothes itself signified the confidence they had in me. They were sure I would be in, and they didn’t want to cause a delay only because I had to go buy those clothes and then get them marked(the academic year had already started).

Well, the next morning, I went for the exam, and was given the paper and made to sit in the library and write the exam(the room next to HM’s room that was then doubling as Staff Room).
I was done in an hour, and was told I had to wait around 20 minutes for the result.

An important point that I forgot to mention was that, despite all the confidence and stuff, my grandfather was really tense and anxious about whether I would atleast get in this time or not, and so he knew the next best thing, that he thought would seal my admission – Influence. He got to know that Anjali Devi was in fact that very day in Parthi to have Darshan, and having produced a few movies with her, invited her to accompany him for the admission.

While we were waiting for the result, Warden came into the corridor to go to HM’s office. On the way in she saw Anjali Devi sitting on the little bench outside the office, and began talking to her instead. She was told that I had come to seek admission, and immediately took us into the office. Just as we went in, the results also were brought in along with us.

One look at me, and HM said “him, you brought him here again?”. She then looked at the exam result, then at me and back at the exam result again. Now, I was really beginning to get tensed. Did I really flunk(well that was not new to me) or did I get through. I was sure I had written absolutely well, in fact it was the only time I had felt good after completing an exam. But the look on HM’s face was inscrutable and gave away not the slightest hint. She just looked up and asked me a few more questions in English which I answered. She gave the marks sheet to my parents and told them to preserve it. Later, I was told the reason why, it seems I had scored a 98, which nobody else had ever done before in the entrance exam(I did learn a few days later that somebody had scored nearly the same figure).

I was immediately admitted and after the fees were paid and all the clothes were tallied with the list, I was taken to the dormitory, while my parents were made to wait downstairs(and man, were they real, those were the biggest rooms I had seen in my entire life of 6yrs, I didn’t even know they were called dormitories). I then went downstairs and told goodbye to my parents and was just waiting for them to leave. The moment I saw them exit the main gate, I ran to the Elephant Slide and huff-puffed my way up for the first grand slide of my life(no pun intended).

to be continued… ... …

– GUPTA GHOST

The First Steps Are Always The Smallest

Children learning to walk, are made to take the smallest steps possible first. This is to embed balance into the sub-conscious. A person who has walked small steps, can always increase his stride. But a person who has been taught to walk in huge strides, will find it difficult to constrain his feet. That’s because, sometimes growth is easier than restraint.

I studied my First Standard in a school in T. Nagar, Chennai(Madras then, and Madras always for old-timers). Its a pity though, that I don’t remember the name of my first school(I think it was Bala Sankara Vidyalaya, or something to that effect).

It was a Tamil medium school, and I was all at sea, being one of the only two telugu-speaking students. The other was a girl named Sirisha(well you can her my first girlfriend, if you want to), whose parents had just been transferred to Chennai.

To begin with, she was a GEM of a person, and had a smile that could kill(pleasantly I mean, she also had a very cute dimple). Not only did she, at the age six, and within 3 months of coming to Chennai, manage to learn Tamil, she would also act as a referee everytime I got into a fistfight with somebody in the class teasing me in Tamil(and that was almost daily, was never much popular back then, like a cowboy in Rome).

We both lived in the same apartment complex, and I would go to her house to play and study(yes I used to do it a lot more often then), and she would very rarely come to my house(usually only when some actor or actress was visiting, Chennai was the hub of even Tollywood then, and my family was very much active in production in those days).

I must have been the only guy, who didn’t understand a word the teachers rambled and who didn’t even know how to write my name on the answersheet(in Tamil of course). I flunked in every possible test except the final exam, where the unexpected happened. I was sitting, back in the habit, of staring at the ceiling, although this time it was because I didn’t know what and how to write. Then I felt somebody scratching my arm, I turned and found Sirisha, handing me her paper, telling me anyway you don’t know how to write, take this. I told her, no maam will find out and besides, her handwriting would be the same. She told me “don’t worry, just take this, submit it, and get out of here”. I just got up, gave the paper, and left. The look on the teacher’s face was unmistakable shock(or rather undisguised). She must have been stunned that a guy like me, who never wrote, spoke, or understood Tamil, would submit the paper within half the time alloted(atleast I would have been stunned if I was her, come to think of it, being what I am, I would have suspected foulplay).

Later, in the evening, she told me, that she hadn’t thought about the handwriting part, when she had offered her paper to me(good old girls, never get any criminal thoughts like me), so when I had pointed it out to her, she didn’t know what to do, and wrote her entire exam in lefthand. To this day, I don’t know what happened(I mean, did I pass, did she pass, did any of pass, did both of us pass). All I know is, I never saw my marks card, else I would atleast know the school name.

EPILOGUE

I shifted to Sri Sathya Sai Primary School, Puttaparthi after that. During my Second Standard holidays, I wanted to meet her and was told they had shifted to another apartment block down the lane. I managed to force my cousin sister to escort me to her home. I still remember, the walk to her house, I, almost sprinting down the road, and my cousin reluctantly tagging along(of course, I had to keep waiting for her, because she knew the address and I didn’t). Once we went in, I learnt, that she had shifted, to Padma Sheshadri School(it was THE school at that time, and frankly in some ways it still is). I was happy someone with her talent was studying in a place that could help her utilise those abilities.

I remember being tight-lipped during the entire evening, and my cousin, more out of embarassment, was constantly trying to keep the conversation going(it was me who dragged her there, and I wasn’t talking and she was forced to speak out of courtesy). Well it wasn’t my fault entirely(I had joined a school, where we were FORBIDDEN to converse with girls(sisters as they were to be called), although not explicitly but in a more implied way). That day was the last, I ever saw of her(and her smile and dimple).

– GUPTA GHOST

P.S.
To this day I wonder, where she is, and what she would be doing. Hope I never find out, because if it is something unpleasant(like being a housewife or something, I would rather not know, than feel bad).

For all you sue-happy people, I dont mean to call ‘being a housewife’ as degrading or insulting, it is just my personal opinion that, someone with her skills and talent should have been something more.

Where Do I Begin?

Memories can be very fickle when they choose to be. As they now choose to be with me. It is one thing to reminisce about writing, and it is yet another thing to actually start writing, because that’s when you realise your mind is so spotlessly clean and blank.

I don’t remember much of my early life(before I was 5 yrs, although many would share the same feeling), but the first and only valuable memory of my Kindergarten is the incident that has left a permanent scar on me.

It was the moment that turned me into the lifelong fall guy that I have come and chosen to be.

It was just after lunch during my UKG, and my friend and I were just finished with lunch, when we got into a tussle over the food, and being hyper-active maniacs that we were, both of us got onto the bench we shared and started what, for the lack of a better word, I shall call wrestling(jostling?). He pushed me and being much leaner than I am today, I fell off the bench, and my head hit the edge of the bench in the next row. The next thing I know, the doctor was stitching the back of my head(it seems I had passed out), and I was trying hard not to bring down the roof with my shouting.

This guy comes up by the side of the bed and says “really sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you so badly”(and he really didn’t). I was still thinking what to reply, when the Principal barged in and asked “What happened?”.

That was the moment, my life would forever change, the moment itself was so simple and nothing out of the ordinary, but the answer has come to haunt me all through my life, for it became ingrained in my character and mind as my first “lie for a good cause”. It was the moment that would be my reference point for all future events.

I told him “I just skid and hit the bench”. Just the look of relief on my friend’s face made my day. As if telling it one time wasn’t enough, I had to relive the concocted story, ‘n’ number of times at home, every time somebody came to visit.

But, most of all what that moment taught me, was to compare, how much I had to lose and how much the other guy had to lose, because of the truth. (he was literally crying his eyes dry, telling me, how his father would trash the living daylights out of him, if he knew, this guy had done such a thing, and I thought, they had never beat me at home, and never probably would, atleast it would save this guy from a beating, he was also lucky nobody in the class went and complained to the teacher, man, his stars must have been really bright that day)

Although I never considered it a debt, he did get his chance to repay it, and repay it he did, in style. It was the final exam day, and I was given money to buy myself a pencil on the way to school, I saw some toffees on the way, and spent all the money on them. I reached school, oblivious to the fact that I didn’t have anything to write the exam with. The exam started and this guy, sitting beside me, saw me staring at the ceiling, and asked me why I wasn’t writing, I told him I didn’t have a pencil. He simply gave me his, and said “take it, anyway I won’t pass, atleast you shouldn’t fail”.

And then the teacher saw him sitting simply, and asked him “why aren’t you writing?” and he said “maam, my pencil broke before the exam, and I threw it away”. The teacher gave him a new pencil, but not before giving him 4 juicy wacks with the cane.(yes, corporal punishment was very much prevalent then, although I didn’t know it was called so)

It was not so much the gesture that touched me, but the intention, that anyway I wont gain anything, why let somebody else lose something. If there was any lingering doubt about the course my life would take, it got wiped away with that moment. I decided then and there, to make it my motto, to let somebody have the benefit, if they stood to lose more than me because of my actions.

Thus, began the career, of a Professional Fall Guy.

– Gupta Ghost

P.S.
The only regret I have, is not being able to remember his name.

A New Beginning from the Ashes of Yesterday

A person is born, grows up and dies.

And then there is nothing.

And yet another person is born.

But every man leaves behind a legacy, some parts of his life that stay behind as memories, some others stay behind as a feeling, and there’s still something left behind that stays incognito.

And that is the TRUTH.

The truth about things, where his side of the situation is hidden in his heart, unbeknown to all but himself. This blog attempts to clarify specifically such incidents before it is too late, or before any clarification will cease to make a difference.

It is about the life and times of Thandava Krishna, presently restricted to incidents from school days.

Hope it will clear the fog on many events, though almost nobody would even remember them,
but try as much as i can, i cannot forget them, and hope i never will.