K, S and yours truly became pretty close friends – we were called ‘Mum Moorthigal’. We came from the same street, sat on the same last bench, went to the restroom at the same time, had our lunch together and everything together. K was an expert in all the games, I always managed to secure first rank and hence elected the class rep, and S was kind of a convener. S also gave me a tough fight in the academics but always managed to secure a close second. K was the most mischievous and used my class rep position to bail him out in many instances.
There was one girl R in our class on whom K had special affinity. Making her cry used to be his favorite pass time. We sat right behind the girls’ bench with about a foot long space dividing our desk and their bench. K would prepare a string with a knot at one end. During the class he would slowly insert the knot to her hair and tie the other end to a pencil box placed on our desk. As she would attempt to stand at the end of a period the pencil box will fall down or it would hang there from her hair! The class would burst into a laugh. She could not complain because the pencil box would be hers! K, being pretty short, would easily crawl under the benches and desks to reach anybody’s desk without being noticed by the teacher! This way he had access to many of the lunch boxes. R’s would be the primary target and it would be hidden some where and she would be pleading behind K to get her lunch box.
Another common thing K used to do is to spread the chalk powder from the duster on the seats of R’s place. He would do this when the entire class would stand up to say ‘Good morning teacher’ as the teacher entered the class. Given that we had a white tops and blue bottoms as the uniform, as R would stand the next time, the entire class would laugh. Or he would spray the ink to the back of the bench so that it sticks on to R’s tops! Or he would place the pencil box just before R intended to sit. He would drop a small piece of paper from behind into R’s tops and would claim that he had just dropped in a spider. R would make sounds and attempt to clear her back. K would have fun with all such stuff! Sometimes I wondered even R liked K’s mischief. Because she never complained to the class teacher regarding any of these nor she preferred to change her seat!
One of our favorite pass times used to be hanging around the banks of river Sitraaru. The favorite game is the contest of making small flat stones ‘float’. We would carefully choose flat roof tiles and throw them flat over the water surface. The stone would bump and float. Who ever could reach the opposite bank of the river like this would win the game. We also used to play with the river weeds. You could make the bottom of the weed burst by pressing it hard. K used to carefully select small, fluffy weeds and save them in his school bag. He used to burst them in the class suddenly for fun.
Our Tamil teacher was a pretty jovial person. He taught his classes with lots of fun and we all would wait for his classes. K managed to irritate even him one fine day and he used his bamboo stick on him. K was furious and wanted to have revenge. That very day, K punctured the tyres of teacher’s cycle. The next day he placed four of the weeds under teacher’s chair before the Tamil period. To K’s surprise, on that day, the Tamil and Maths teachers exchanged their periods! The Maths teacher was a very tough and rude guy! As we saw him entering the class, K was surprised and terrified! He was asking for my help! I said I could do nothing about this. Maths teacher hardly used to sit during his classes as for most of his time he had to stand near the board! Every time the teacher approached the chair, our pulse rate would increase in anticipation of the eventuality. Fortunately for K, the maths teacher never sat on that day! We all released a sigh of relief at the end of the class. K removed those weeds from under the chair! Those forty five minutes were probably the worst tense moments we would have spent in our time together at the school! At the end fortune always favors the brave!
Being a class rep I had many a duties on my plate. I had to lead the class to the assembly that meant I had to be at the school before everyone. During intervals, I had to lead the class to the restroom. I would shout ‘first two rows, assemble to your right in twos’. Every one should fold their hands behind and walk towards the restroom in twos. And then come back in the same order! Then I would send the next batch and my turn would be the last! I had to memorize some of those prayer songs which on some days I would be requested to sing in the assembly.
Another important job was to control the class during the absence of a teacher. I had to stand in front of the class, and engage the entire class to repeat multiplication tables, or read English lessons. I would also note down the names of the students whom I observed to be talking in the class. The names would be submitted to the class teacher the next day and each would get a good beating with a bamboo stick from the teacher. Now this was an important weapon I had which K exploited to full extend. The entire class knew that we were best of friends and I would never report K or S to the class teacher. None of them dared to complain about K as his name would be reported by me to the class teacher the next day. I also needed to do the roll call and fill in the attendance register every period, update the board with the numbers, helping the teachers etc.
... to be continued ...