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Remembrance of My Childhood Girl-Friend

   

Living in the present, when I experience severe loneliness my mind flies back to my early days and sometimes, I feel like visualizing the future scenario or the shape things will take such as our nation’s future - will there be anybody to erase the problems resulting from global financial melt-down which spreads across the World, about some incarnations that will wipe out the scourge of terrorism from earth, a peaceful and harmonious life awaiting somewhere to make an epoch-making atmosphere in the World.

During my early childhood days, I didn’t have to ponder over the serious and painful issues affecting the World. Childhood days were for studying, playing with children’ of my age, often indulging in some kind of mischief, getting scolded and threatened by parents & occasionally getting thrashed by them and my teachers.

While flying back to the past, dormant faces in the recess of my mind come up, like invited and uninvited guests, mostly my friends, whom I loved and hated. Most of my teachers' faces, many of them in their heavenly abode now, still come before me, sometimes with advices, sometimes with reprimand with sticks in their hands to punish those who cross the ‘Lakshmana Rekhas’ ( or the limit upto which one can go).

Besides the teachers in school, I had a few Asans’ (teacher), including Govindan Asan & Madhavan Asan. Govindan Asan was always mild and affectionate with the children, occasionally threatening us with whip-lashes, pinching or intimidating us about our lack of seriousness to our fathers, mothers or uncles. Never did he cause even a slight pain, so lovable and caring was he to us. He taught us the first alphabets on the sands spread before us, gave necessary instructions as to how to proceed further, sometimes cracking jokes and telling stories which always conveyed a good message to us students to emulate for life. It was painful for all of us to bid farewell to Govindan Asan. He was also in pain when the time came for us to get separated from him & join school. He blessed us and whenever we came across him after our studies under him, he always inquired about our studies and gave a lot of advice to each one of us so that we could become great men and women in the future. He had a phenomenal memory and hence he always recognized and called us by our names.

After joining school, my father approached my teachers who were allotted the task of teaching us, most of them he was acquainted with, told them to punish me severely for which there would not be any complaints from him, because he always believed in the dictum that children who were apathetic to studies should be dealt with severe punishment. He might have had some dreams and plans to give me maximum education, thus grooming me to be a successful man. Not only my father, but other parents also nursed similar thoughts like him and hence my colleagues also bore the brunt. Our teachers kept on laughing while pinching and beating us deriving a sort of vicarious pleasure. Whenever our eyes welled-up while experiencing harsh punishments their sadistic pleasure lasted long.

Not satisfied with my performance in school, father was in search for a tuition master, and he experienced not much difficulty in fishing out one to provide us with good teaching and also ruthless punishment. Madhavan Asan was known to almost everyone in our village, one lean, quick-tempered, grey-haired old man, with an umbrella always in possession and frequent chewing of betel leaves, arecanut and tobacco. Furthermore, he had a unique authority over me, as he was the second uncle of my father, almost like my Grand-uncle. He always sat in the easy chair in front of me and taught me what he deemed appropriate. As I was very weak in mathematics, before leaving for the day he used to give me some home-work to be completed and submitted before him the next day.

 Even after severe coaching, I couldn’t make any head or tail of mathematics and found myself in a precarious situation. Whom to complain? Who was there to listen to my doubts and helplessness? I saw nightmares in sleep, often jumping up with wild cry, father and mother took umbrage at me, ordered me not to make noises in the night. I could not even sleep well, always fearing Asan’s reaction, his roar, his stick, long blade-like fingers to pinch the poor students and shouting at them.

Meanwhile, to my happiness, a pretty little girl also joined the tuition class. She was about my age and within days we became very friendly and always found time to speak to each other about Asan’s class, our apprehensions and his loud noise reminiscent of the roar of a lion, in whispering tones. She told me about her father- a government servant, mother- house wife and a little sister. There was a huge mango tree in the premises of her house, before leaving for tuition, she never forgot to bring two or three mango fruits wrapped in a piece of newspaper to see happiness and gratitude on my face, thus deriving satisfaction and pleasure. Before Asan made his appearance at the gate, we would run away to a lonely place and stealthily ate them one by one. Then both of us would try to do our home-work, consulting each other but our answers always went wrong because of our ‘expertise’ in Mathematics. As the countdown went on both of us felt our hearts beating fast, fearing the consequences, after Asan’s eyes glanced through his spectacles. He always called me first, I would go near him, mentally preparing to suffer the worst. A wild thrash or pinching my thighs till I writhed in pain. He didn’t have any compassion and while trying to teach me once again he didn’t forget to go on pinching and leaving me to weep, tears trickling down my cheeks. I could see my girl-friend with welled-up eyes looking at my suffering face, she would also join in sobbing. Asan never thought about looking at her face and she knew that after me, she would be the next victim.

After my quota for the day was over, she would stand up on her feet preparing to go near Asan with pounding heart and trembling legs, beads of sweat and tears running down her face, with the 200 pages book, she would hand over with trembling hands. Very similar to my predicament. I couldn’t bear her sobbing, often looking down I would start cursing our teacher in my mind.

Still I wonder, how could the teacher be so ruthless, simultaneously laughing like the evil or villain characters in a film or drama on noticing our pain and sadness. After coming back and sitting beside me, both of us would look at the clock on the wall whether it was time for him to leave or not. As is the usual practice, he would give us a lot of home-work for the next day and would remind us about the severe punishment awaiting us for making mistakes. “Don’t be careless. Attend the class and obey what I say. Read a lot and try to solve as much problems as possible.” The tuition classes went on throughout the mid-summer vacation. School was about to open, forgetting the thrashing, scolding, pinching and all our pains, with heavy hearts we both got separated. Once in a while we saw each other and exchanged smiles, talked about studies and teachers, some rude some friendly.

After our studies, I got enrolled in a college and she joined Teacher’s Training Course (TTC). Fortunately or unfortunately, I got selected as a bank employee and she became a teacher. Whenever I dig up the past relationships, studies, friends, her face appears before me like a red-rose in a misty morning…an enthralling and nostalgic moment.

Contributed By  K.R.Surendran krskartha@yahoo.com 

At the very outset, let me introduce myself to you. My name is K.R.Surendran, hailing from a village called Pulluvazhy near Perumbavoor. Five books in Malayalam are there to  my credit now, and they are “Pooviriyumkunninte- Santhathikal”(Stories), Gloriyayude Dinarathrangal” (Stories), “Mumbai- Sketchukal” (Novelettes), and "Indiayude Bhoopadam" (Novel). A novel “Pulluvazhy” was published recently.


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