August 14, 2012
It is August once more and we are reminded of our school days in the rain. My mother says that the rains are not so good again this year. My brother-in-law told my husband this morning about how in this month, they used to be soaked every day in the rain while going to School.
I remember this same month many years ago when it rained so heavily and we did not know that we could term it as ‘raining cats and dogs’. Our school uniform at Lady Hill Victoria Girls’ High School was white and blue. Our mother made sure that we carried an additional blue skirt in our school bags for changing into in case of getting wet in the rain. Of course we did get wet and of course we did not change. It was a pride to have gotten wet!
Students whose parents checked the time when there was less rain and sent them to reach early so as to not get wet, looked on with jealousy at those who were soaked thoroughly. Sometimes those students, whose clothes were very wet, were sent home to return later or not at all. They missed two or so hours of class, how lucky! Most of the time, returning to school, they got wet again!
There were some students whose parents sent someone from home with a change of clothes for their children. They were silently ashamed and sad that the glory of sitting in wet clothes in the classroom was taken away from them! Mothers and grandmothers struggled to have dry clothes ready. I remember how a little bit of sunshine would have all of us in the house running out with the washed clothes to put them to dry. A little drizzle would have all of us out in a mad scramble to gather up the clothes again.
Then there were the slippery pathways! Falls were aplenty. All the cemented pathways were thick with moss and needed to be scrubbed to ensure safe walking. The bruises on persons in the monsoons were not sports related, but mostly related to slippery falls.
There were discussions at home regarding the availability of fish in the market. Vegetable curries were the rule with some additions of dry fish, pappads, etc. I remember that one summer my mother and all of us together made pappads. I cannot remember any repetitions of the same except for pickle making. The summer also kept us on guard duty to ensure no dogs or crows got to attack the halved coconuts kept for drying in order to make the so essential coconut oil for domestic use. And whenever it rained we sang “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day, little ….. wants to play”. Wonder if we would like to say something like this rhyme now, all the rain we can get is welcome! All these were everyday stories during the monsoons.
We are seven children and six of us sisters attended Lady Hill School. For us younger ones, the space for intended mischief was next to nil because of the established reputation left as a legacy by our older sisters. My elder sister being excellent in sports and having brought in so many accolades meant that I had to be a natural in sports as assumed by our “Games teacher”. Was she disappointed! I certainly was not her favourite student when instead of coming in first I panted in much later at one of the first hundred meters dash she organized for us in Class Eight.
Speaking in the same spirit, the circumstance that, when in Class Ten I won a “Miss Intellectual” award organized by the Giants International, is a fact I am sure put some pressure on my younger sister. There must have been expectations of the same sort from her. Yet she excelled in her own way.
Oh! The ‘throwball’ field and the fun we had there! It was one place where everyone got a piece of action. Everyone wanted to play ‘throwball’ irrespective of the fact whether they were good in the game or not. So teams were formed with mutual understandings. Those who were good at the game hogged the netted fields whereas the others managed to play the game anywhere on the grounds. The fact was that everyone played the game happily in their own comfort zone.
Many of us refused to go home for hot lunch because the time left for playing ‘throwball’ would be restricted. Even those who went home for lunch rushed to the field straight from the School gate. Bags were thrown on the side of the field and were picked up only when the bell rang. “We’ll go at the second bell…” , “ …..Have to go now, see the teacher’s watching…” amply illustrates the love for the game. We greatly missed the game once we were in College. We have been introduced to so many games but no sport could touch our hearts like ‘throwball’.
Before High School, we were under the guardianship of our beloved Headmistress, the Rev Sr. Dionysia. She was a truly democratic teacher who gave everyone a chance to offer their opinions. In those times, I personally think that she was a marvelous administrator. Maybe it was under her tutelage that I grew so bold and outspoken. She was a great story teller and instilled in us imagination and creativity.
The Illustrated Weekly was a magazine that my father had brought home on one of his visits, a magazine I loved. Khushwant Singh and his ‘phoren’ stories, his editorial were all reading material that I was addicted to. All through High School I have religiously read the Weekly and was one of the saddest witnesses to the death of the magazine. I am quite sure that there are many like me all over the country who felt the very same. ‘Gold spot’ and its redundancy by Coca cola as a competitive drink for its own brand is also a regret that many like me still feel. I sometimes tell my MBA classes that if similar aged people like me were to see a ’Gold spot’, “the zing thing” bottle in any shop, we would rush for it at least for old times’ sake. My husband endorses this thought!
Another favourite newspaper in our home, was the ‘Udayavani’ and the ‘Sudha’ magazine. We rushed out to be the first to get the ‘Sudha’ in our hands, to be the first to read it. At least two of the Kannada movie stories had been published by the ‘Sudha’ and then made into movies. The Amitabh Bachchan movies at the Central theatre were a great attraction. Our eldest brother-in-law made these movies familiar to us on some Sunday evenings.
The Mangalore beach was and still is a never ending attraction. So many incidents related to the beach, some good, some not so and their recollections are etched in the memories of all Mangloreans, I am sure. When we got engaged to be married, there were two places to go to and talk about it to friends; the beach and the ‘ideals’ ice cream. Even when we still visit Mangalore, for us, old timers, the visit is not complete without these two places. Being in Bangalore and just a short distance away from Mangalore, if we have not been to these places on our previous visits, we keep promising ourselves these treats on our next visit.
Memories are so many, they can go on and on. Take care, love, joy and peace everyone! Cheerio!
Cynthia Menezes Prabhu Archives:
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