Its just a one page story about an incident that happened in my childhood
“You know tomorrow I won’t come to school” Ravi screamed at us. It was a warm Friday evening. We all friends had planned to play football and have litti choka after the games. “But…But…why???” asked a terrified Ram. “Tomorrow is Saturday..and you know what happens don’t you?” Kapil spoke. All our faces turned white at the mention of that period. We had forgotten in the face of exams that there is a period on Saturday called “MASS PT”. It was generally the first period of the day, and a period even Ravi was terrified of. If Ravi was terrified it could mean only one thing “THE ORANGUTAN” was coming. Unfortunately, we had no idea that Mass PT was not the only period we were going to see him.
Our physical trainer’s actual name was Narendra Upadhyay. He was almost on the doorsteps of retirement. A hunter on his left hand and a bamboo stick on his right he was a kind of man nobody messes with. We kids used to wonder whether he had hit the interviewer with the hunter or the stick for that job. I remember as a child whenever he used to come we used to scamper away like ants in front of a elephant. He had two sons and I had never seen his wife rumor was that he had killed his wife but I now think maybe he wife died. Both the son were in USA working for some big MNC. We named him Orangutan for two reasons. We had seen on TV about them and incidently the hair colour of the Narendra sir was exactly like the hair colour of an male orangutan. Secondly, his creativity in giving punishments was mind boggling. His personal favourite was asking the victim to sit in chair position and hit with a hunter from behind. I remember one personal incident when a student teeth was broken by him. Later on he was the one who took him to the hospital. Another unique thing about our trainer was his way of speaking. Instead of saying “wrong” he would either say “dong” or “long”.
“Sachin have your breakfast!!! It’s 7:30 already” my mom shouted at top of her voice. Generally, this would initiate a series of yawns and a sleepy look from me. But today was Saturday, the day if we are a second late were sure to feel the wrath of Orangutan. Even the daily late comer Ravi would be on time. “Breakfast done Mom!!!” I shouted back. My mother came back to see whether I was lying or really had breakfast. I had finished. “Am leaving for school!!otherwise I will get late” I muttered as ran out of the house. My school was some 500 meters from my house, but as a kid I used to think it not less than a kilometer. On the way I met Kapil who was sweating profusely, still was running at top speed. We were at the gate of our school when we saw Ravi’s father coming on a scooter and behind him a terrified looking Ravi. Watching that comic scene Kapil smirked, even I had managed a smile. “So smarty pants!!” Kapil quipped “Still trying to run away are we?”. “Please Kapil don’t make fun” Ravi said in a distressed voice, as we entered the school premises. Ravi watched the school gates being closed longingly. “Don’t worry yaar you are not alone in this there are 450 more victims with you” said Shivam. He had come just ahead of us.
The assembly went on smoothly, with all of us sleeping standing in the sun. Then came the dreaded period, a terror for all of us, except for some 90 odd girls who used to study. They departed for the classrooms and we were left in the sun. A few hunters, some sticks and few screams. It was time for punishment. Every Saturday after the Mass PT we had a punishment time of 30 minutes for whatever silly mistake we had done over the week we will pay it on Saturday. Sometimes I doubted how could someone remember what silly mistake each and every child had done. This time orangutan went up a notch trying to give innovative punishment. He asked us to be in Cock position, only for him it was “thock” instead of “cock”. “Aaaaiiii Maaaa” was the first scream which we heard from our position. It was quite near to me, so I could tell it was poor Ravi who was his first victim. Again and again and again that dreaded weapon hit on his bums until Ravi burst in tears. I was planning of having a fake fainting to get out of that, but seeing Ravi in such state I forgot all my plans. The next to get a taste of hunter was Kapil. Even before the second sound had come Kapil had screamed again. He was diagonally behind me, so I could see everything clearly from being in the position. Whenever Narendra sir raised his hunter Kapil screamed. At that time it was so terrifying but today after so many years it seems so funny, a master piece of overacting. Anyways after some 30 minutes we were all walking back sweating profusely and in Ravi’s case, crying profusely.
“That insolent idiot orangutan!!!” Shivam said outraged. It was break , Ravi was still crying there were dark red marks on his bums making it impossible for him to sit. In fact Ravi was in such pain that he completely missed us watching Shivam strangely. Although Shivam and Ravi were good friends but whenever Ravi got a reprimand from teacher Shivam used to make fun of it. Today the case was different. Even he was angry. “How dare he hit Ravi like a menial worker?” he screeched again. “Leave it Shivam we cannot do anything, can we?” replied Ram. “Still hitting kids with a hunter is not good at all” said Shivam. “I bet that’s the reason his wife left him” said Kapil. “Don’t worry Ravi we will take revenge” replied Kapil thoughtfully. I kept quiet wondering how does he plan to achieve that feat. As soon as we were back in class I went up to his seat and asked “Kapil how do you plan to do that?” “do what?” Kapil asked. “taking revenge” I said. “shhhhh!!!watch and learn dumbo” said Kapil. “Now go. It doesn’t look nice when class monitor starts a casual chat in the class, and I will give your name to the teacher if you don’t run back to your seat and sit quietly” added Kapil. I went back to my seat, and took out Charlie chaplin to read which I had issued from the library a day before.
Suddenly, Kapil went to the board and wrote the next teacher’s name. Being a class monitor it was his duty to check the subject and teacher name and he was the first to know if any teacher was on leave. The board looked something like this after he had edited it:
Teacher: Mrs. Kavita Menon(on leave)
Assigned Teacher: Mr Narendra Upadhay
Whole class suddenly went silent. Even a drop of pin could be heard now. Kapil was smiling to himself as he looked over the class. “Anybody shouting, making a noise, talking in a low voice, trying to disturb a class in any way I will take his name and give it to the next teacher” he declared pompously. Nobody wanted to be on his target list. That day, the staff break extended for a long time. We were half sure that he was not going to come anymore. Then, Abhishek a boy sitting next to the door shouted he is coming. All hell broke loose as we wanted to open some notes any notes. In this din I had opened my social science notebook in opposite direction and was not aware of it. He entered the class and gave us a long sweeping look, as though an enemy was trying to gauge the opposition before entering into the battle. He took a chair and sat on it. Before he could say anything Kapil got up and said “total strength 30 present 27 3 on leave”. He nodded, but strangely his eyes told a different story. I was trying to think which word will he ask us write the spelling of on the board, when he said “please have a self study, and don’t make a noise”. I looked at Kapil he was crestfallen by this. I was also a little bit sad, because I wanted to see what Kapil had in mind. He kept to himself and when the bell rang. He went away. There was a collective sigh from us as he went away. “rather an anti climax don’t you think?” said a boy sitting behind me. I said “yes yaar”. All but Kapil and me had left by the time I packed my bag. As we were about to go out and close the class room behind we saw something. A green wire with a wooden handle, a weapon who had created fear in most fearless students lying across upon the table carelessly. It’s owner the orangutan left it. I looked at Kapil ,he looked at me unsure of what to do next. Finally Kapil ventured “shall we take it back?”. “Yes I think” I said. Dreading of what was about to come next we went to staff room to return the weapon of mass destruction back to the owner.
He was bending over the drawer. We thought he was searching for his trusted hunter. Unsure of what to say I said “Good Afternoon sir”. “Please sir you left your hunter on our classroom table” . “Dood lafternoon” he said as he got up. We could see he had papers on his hand and a card board box on the table. “I don’t need it” anymore he said. We didn’t ask more he didn’t say more. We kept it on the table and left.
“He is sick!!!!!” said Ravi with a glee. It was a week after this small incident. We hadn’t seen him in school since Monday. In the Mass PT period nobody was present and there was no school punishment that day too. “Still I wonder what happened to him” said Kapil. “leave it Sherlock who cares!!!!” said Shivam. “I didn’t know what say. I think deep in my heart I knew he was not going to come back”
Years have passed, that dreaded hunter hangs on the wall behind the staff room, awaiting his master to return. I still don’t know what Kapil’s plan was. Last year I got to know that he had died peacefully in his sleep. His sons, busy in their MNC at USA never came to see him or do the last rites. Strangely, I felt pity for him. Was it because his son left him to die alone or was it because he used hunter that his son left him? We may never know the answers of these questions. It is better not to know a few things.