This one has something to do with the dhobi box. I am sure a lot of people have had a lot of experiences with the dhobi box, mine was one a similar though on a completely different tangent. Irrespective of what a lot of people used to use it for, and there really were innumerable uses of it, for me the dhobi box used to signify only one thing, ‘bunking box’. I used to use it quite often whenever I wanted to bunk Suprabhatam.
I still don’t know what it was about Suprabhatam that made us enemies, but from the very first time I have heard it, I have never managed to stay awake through each and every line of it even for a single day. Don’t know what it signified for the others, but for me, Suprabhatam was a wake up call telling me to get to sleep again. Upto the 4th Standard, I wasn’t daring enough, and besides the dormitories we stayed in till then were not accomodating enough, for such stunts, and so I was forced to attend Suprabhatam everday. I wouldn’t have really minded if they were conducted the way Prassanna maam used to let them be conducted. With the lights offed, and only the lamps at the beginning glowing. I always used to sit at the ending always at the corner row, because I used to wake up last, brush last and thus used to arrive last.
Things were really good then, because the lights would be offed, and Prassanna maam used to let “sleeping dogs lie”, and never bother with us last row people whose only work would be to sleep through the entire proceedings. In fact, we would just come in, sit, bend forward, onto the back of the guy front of us, and sleep. It would seem like a huge sleeping Mexican wave of students, the entire last row. But things can’t always be so rosy can they?
Our nemesis was Warden Aunty, who would come in once in two days during Suprabhatam and give a crackling shot on each one’s back that would resound for quite while. It got a little disconcerting the first few days, because we would have scalded backs for the rest of the day. However Darwin was right about evolution and adaptation, because soon we programmed our sub-conscious to such a level that the moment we heard the first sound, everyone would immediately sit up ramrod straight and pretend as if we were singing along(hell, we didn’t know the lines even after we finished 7th Standard, though Vasanthi Aunty made a valiant effort by including it in the HV syllabus in our 6th Standard, and I bet, more than 60% of the guys learnt it then rather than before).
However, by the time I reached 5th Standard, I was fed up of this routine, specially since I usually used to turn out to be the last guy to turn out, and that made me a regular target for Warden Aunty. So in the 5th Class, I devised a way out of all this headache. The dhobi box. The idea itself was very ingenious, because by not attending Suprabhatam at all, I could avoid being hit at all, and at the same time sleep to my heart’s content.
So everyday, like always, I would be the last to get up and get ready. However this time, my schedule took a slight change, after everybody else had left, would slip into the dhobi box, and pile clothes upon myself and sleep away to glory, till everyone came back to collect their shoes for games(the shoebox was right next to the dhobi box). After the whole dormitory quietened down, I would emerge from the dhobi box and leave for games myself.
Since this technique was such a hit, I decided to extend it to other areas as well. We used to go for Darshan only on two days(Thursday and Sunday, apart from festival days) and that too only in the mornings. But I got bored of that also, and decided to bunk Darshans also. So after the morning breakfast on Darshan days, I would again run up to the dhobi box to begin my second innings of sleep and would sleep till Darshan was over, and students came back(Suprabhatam was there on Darshan days also, and we used to have morning bath and have Vibuthi applied, that gooey paste of dark grey that they made out of it to make it stick properly, was a real treat, not on the face, but into the mouth. We really used to relish clearing out a whole packet).
Even this would have worked fine, if my reach hadn’t exceeded my grasp. I decided that I was bored with the evening bhajans also, and so decided to bunk them also. That proved to be my undoing. It was the third day of my bunking bhajans by sleeping in the dhobi box. I was really tired, playing hard that day, and fell into a deep sleep as bhajans were going on. It seems the dhobi had come to collect the clothes then, and had lifted the topmost pile and found me sleeping there. He wasn’t sure if I was alive or conscious, so he called Warden Aunty. She came to me, called out my name, and tapped me on the shoulder, before shaking me. I immediately sat up and asked “bhajans are already over aa?”. I didn’t receive an answer in words. Instead I received a tight slap across my face, which brought me back to reality and to the gravity of the situation.
That day ended with a lot of cover-up stories ot Warden Aunty who never seemed to believe a single one(don’t really know if she was too smart, or if I was really a very bad story-teller then), and therefore ended up getting more than a fair share of whackings for each story I came out with. Wonder what they do in those dhobi boxes nowadays.
– GUPTA GHOST
Even though I got caught, I never managed to reveal the real reason for my being found in the dhobi box to Warden Aunty and so although I no longer bunked bhajans, I continued to bunk Suprabhatam and Darshan throughout the rest of the 5th Standard. Besides, I would often have company from other like-minded people who saw me getting into the dhobi box.
Vijay Mallya would say ‘let the good times pour’. But for how long will the good times pour. It was an answer that I was going to get very soon. And it wasn’t an answer I had ever expected in my life. Though it was the first such incident, it was much worser than the rest.