Life is not a classroom

A major change in life happened to me while I was in Grade VIII, IX and X. During Grade VIII, on the very first day class teacher conducted an election for class leader. He asked those who are interested to be class leaders to stand up. I had the courage to stand up and say I want to be the class leader. . Even though I study moderately well, because of height, I was a backbencher. Third bencher Bijoy also stood up. During the contest, Bijoy won the battle. So he became the class leader, and they entrusted me as Deputy Class leader.

The failure in the election did not put me back. I override Bijoy and eventually he himself started considering himself as Deputy Class Leader. He is a pleasant friend who keeps contact with me still. He is a practicing doctor and a wonderful human being.

To be very frank, I was not an excellent leader at all. I lead the class in all mischiefs. I remember taking bribe for the first and last time in life during that period. Every year school demands building fund donation from students. One of my friend whose parents were abroad gave only Rs 100/- even though his parents gave Rs 1000/- as donation. He donated only Rs 100/-. But at the end, in the school magazine, they published the names of students who gave donations above Rs 500/. This was unexpected and his parents are about to come for a vacation. He had a fear that his parents may see the magazine or come to school. He came to me for help and advice. I took his school magazine and with no flaw removed the page in which they print a list of donations.

He said his parents knew me and will certainly meet me for the reason my mother’s ancestral house is near his home. So he bribed to tell his parents to convince them he had given Rs 1000/- as donation since the class leader collects and gives them to the class teacher.

I agreed and we along with our friends spent the bribe amount of Rs 100/- in nearby confectionary store.

But on that night I could not sleep. I felt I am a thief. I was hesitant to go to school next day. Unfortunately Rs 100/- is too much for our family. But after three days, I told my mother about this incident.

She scolded me. I do not know whether she told this to father. But she gave me Rs 100/- after some days to return to the friend. It relaxed me. I gave it back, though he was reluctant to take it back. But seeing me tense and grief he took it back.

Luckily, when his parents came, they did not ask questions regarding the donations. This relieved me a lot. Thereafter never in my life I had told a lie or done a thing which is against ethics. This incident repeatedly told me I am not a moral leader.

So during Grade nine, even though everyone asked me to be the leader, I did not agree. I wanted an exile. I punished myself by not taking the position.

But I was too brave and bold that many teachers did not like. They never like questions from students. Most of the Teachers considered students to be mere spectators and listeners like puppet.

We had a physical education hours once in a week. The concerned teacher was so rude that we did not like to attend at all. The compound wall near the urinal shed is almost 20 feet high from the road. Whenever there is a physical education class, we used to jump out of school by sliding down the electricity post near to the wall.

Some of us were bold enough to jump out of the campus and went to the swimming pool on the first day. We watched people learning to swim there. Some went for films. We re-entered the school during lunch break.

During dinner time, father told mother that he saw a dream about me. I was sitting in an adjacent room. I can overhear their conversation. Father told: “I saw my son near a water pool.” My heart beat increased. I waited for next question. But nothing happened. The conversation ended. I thought my father is having a sixth sense.

That did not end my quitting classes from school. Another friend Joy and I went to Public library. Some went to the University College backyard; others to swimming pool and film. We both sat in reference section and glanced through film magazines. We made this a habit. On the second day a bearded man, tall and slim, who is the official in library came to us and took us inside the library. He himself selected books of little pages and asked us to read. We reluctantly tried to read. Joy was not interested. But I found profound interest in reading. Thereafter I started quitting classes more often. Once Father Dominic Gomez, a faculty of the school, saw me returning from the library. He told: “You are a donkey. Why don’t you have a tea short at least with you so that people do not identify you as a school student by uniform?” It embarrassed me. He took me to an ice cream parlor and bought me ice cream. While I was having my favorite flavor, my throat burned thinking about what will happen after reaching school.

But again to my surprise, he safely accompanied to school and said: “Whenever you want to go, tell me. I will make some excuses”

Father Dominic is no more now. But he is now one of the most influenced man in my life. He came to my help many times in need, even after schooling.

Before I conclude just after my tenth-grade examination, my father called me to get ready for a walk. Even though I asked where we are going, he told nothing. To my surprise, he took me to the public library and filled the application form for membership and made me a member. I am still a member of State Central Library, Trivandrum. On our return walk, he told: “I knew about your skipping of classes. I told nothing since I found you going to the library and reading. Life is not just a classroom. Experiences are not those you encounter, rather we gain them from seeing, reading and knowing.”