No matter how old we get, or how successful we become, the mere mention of school opens the floodgates of sweet and sour memories. The musings of Green Land English Medium School, where I studied from Nursery to 8th class, will remain etched in my hippocampus.
There are a lot of emotions tangled with this place and its lovely people. The unbreakable bond between the students and teachers will live here forever. As I write this, a gush of memories, a flash of all those activities wet my eyes.
My classmates were more like a family. Twelve students lived together for eleven years. We understood our feelings for each other. None of us was a teacher’s pet. For my peers, I was a hard nut to crack.
My stoic silence would confuse them, at times. All of us: Sadiq, Muthreen, Mubashir, Taskeena, Masrat, Iqra, Parveena, Snober, Yaseen, Sumeel & Hilal, were fast friends with each other.
We never bunked a class. Those half-day co-curricular activities every weekend, those floor games, Naat competitions, homework, marching on foot through neighboring villages on special occasions, a lot of tests and exams, unforgettable school picnics, leg-pulling, gossip, and innocent misunderstandings, are the memories worth cherishing for life. It was a heaven of chatting pool.
The key was innocence. Debates, Symposiums, and Quiz contests were the order of the day. Our school life was fun-filled. Those golden days are no more!
Monday morning used to be nightmarish for those who had not washed and ironed their uniforms the previous day. It was made sure that we combed our hair well, it is oiled properly, brush our teeth, polish our shoes, had our nails trimmed, etc. It was a beautiful attempt to make us realise that cleanliness is half the faith according to our religious teachings.
Our batch was famous for mutual love and respect. We had good teamwork and were known for cooperating with each other. None would take a French leave at departure. We never went home mentally exhausted. No cellphone, No Facebook, No WhatsApp, No Instagram, No computer.
We don’t even have a one-group photo. We cried and laughed with each other without any fake emojis. We used to engage ourselves in traditional games apart from Kite-Flying.
We would drive the cycle wheel around the village after the clanging of the school bell and feed our cows with strands of hay in a nearby Karewa.
A school is a place where various shades of people get together. We owe a lot to the school that groomed us and was really a temple of brilliance and charismatic charm. I remember how we used to compete with our friends to blow the largest bubble of Big Babool.
Parle-G biscuit was the only brand we knew. Ma’ntam and Éclair were the toffees to be shared. Who would forget to share Kenhsa among your classmates - be it Aabchot or a mixture of uncooked rice and sugar (Khande-tomol).
NATRAJ geometry box was one of our treasures during school days, making those paper planes and paper boats and enjoying racing among our classmates.
During exams, a wooden clipboard (Pad in local parlance) was our sole weapon. We used to write those difficult Mathematical formulae on its bottom.
We had our own share of fights & fun. If we presume a book as a school, then Victor Hugo’s words ring true in every sense, “a good school can ignite fiery passions that will enlighten minds beyond all dusk.”
Now, whenever we accidentally meet, we burst with joy, crack jokes, and take a trip down the memory lane of innocence. We exchange stories & smiles, hugs & handshakes.
Everyone among us sighs heavily and yearns to get back to those incredible days of love and laughter. Ah, sharing Tiffin’s with each other, those silly fights, not talking to each other for a week, and then addressing such friends as “Dapus dapaan chi”-that indirect speech. Many of my classmates are married, and some are engaged, doing well in their lives.
I have come a long way since, but whenever anyone asks me what is the best moment of my life? The answer always zeroes down to the same place-my school days. The school was like my first home. I wish I could travel back to the days of care and love.
I would give anything to go back in the time of that unnecessary screaming, shouting, stupid pranks, and cheating. It seems as if it all happened yesterday.
I was a studious guy who would start off crying even before punishment. I wish my school days could have dragged a little longer because we had less reading and more listening.
I used to write homework for my fellows and in turn, they would gift me paper sheets. I would then assemble the bundle of such unused paper and make it – a rough copy. Those eleven champions never looked down upon me, they didn’t judge me, not even once.
I wore a single uniform, torn shoes, and a sweater constantly for five years. I could never buy a new school bag for eight years. I borrowed books from a distant relative. Nobody can understand it now. Today, when I recall those times and where I stand in my life now, it seems like a dreadful dream.
Gone are the days when we used to roll our neckties and socks into a ball and play cricket with wooden slate (mashq) as a cricket bat. We would rush to our favorite Kulfiwala once exhausted. I miss that charm of my kindergarten days.
The image of the repeated thundering of (Savdhan, Vishram) “stand at ease” during drills stands stuck forever. After prayers, we would close our eyes for “silent prayer” and pray for better grades.
Quick to add were some sad moments for boys - the pledge of calling each other “baya-didi”. We would retort almost in a muffled tone, “except one” just to be on the safer side. It looks romantic now.
The day would begin with prayers we still remember. “Hamud saeri taes khudayeas paedi yem kormut jaahaan.” Dr. Muhammad Iqbal’s popular poem Lab pay aati hai dua ban kay tamanna meri….. (My yearning comes to my lips, in the form of prayer—Oh, God Almighty, make my life like the face of a burning candle), was sung in chorus.
“We shall overcome, we shall overcome, someday, oh, deep in my heart, I do believe that we shall overcome someday.” Oh God, my eyes are moist as I recall that phase of my life.
We all remember beatings by teachers with staves made from the mulberry tree. These ranged from a gentle touch to flogging of the palms. Pulling of ear lobules was the punishment for mild indiscretions; the worst offenders received soye shalak (nettle-beatings) resulting in burning blistery pain. Knowing each other for more than a decade and growing up together makes us feel gratified.
Thanks to our teachers who made learning fun by coming up with all innovative ways to impart knowledge. Only after those exciting moments zoomed past our lives, the painful realisation strikes us that those were the most effortless days - a careless phase. Everything around us seemed colorful and lively.
Recollecting memories of school days is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you never want to lose.
It feels so good to tread back along memory threads and go to the bygone days at least for a few moments that gives such a fine escapade from the unhappy realities of the present.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.