ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DAYS
I dont know how some of the very early happenings in our lives remain permanently etched in our minds. I already mentioned that I dont rememeber even a wee bit of things that happened when amma was around. Memories of childhood start only after amma's death. The life in Kasiapuram , and appa's wedding are all quite vivid. Immediately after appa's wedding with my new amma I came to Madurai. Then started the schooling. Appa was working in St. Mary's High School, a renowned school in the whole city in those days. I was admitted in St.Mary's Elementary School in the same campus.
I very clearly remember the very first day of my schooling. Appa took me in his bicycle. In the campus, the elementary school was a rectangular block at the back of the church. But there was a single block standing alone in between the main school buildings and the church. Probably it is as old as the curch itself. It was standing alone there. It was a high raised building with just one large class room and an adjacent small room. I dont know why that building alone was so constructed, so high above the ground level. There should have been at least 10-15 very wide steps leading to the class room. Appa took me by hand and led me into the class room. The teahcer was in all smiles and he showed a lot of respect to appa. Mu first class teacher's name was Mr. Manickam, a fair, young gentleman. He asked me where do I want to sit in the class room? Appa's influence helped me opt a seat of my preference! I chose the bench in the very first row - not that I wanted to be there as a good studious student as a front-bencher! In stead that was the only bench in the class with backrest! All other benches did not have a backrest. Anyway, that front bech with backrest was full. But still one of the poor poor guys in that bench - in all probabilities, whose father was not known to the teacher - was asked to go to one of the back rows and I was offered my preferred seat. That's how my first day of schooling started.
Not much is in memory about the rest of the next 5 years in that school, except two incidents. When I was doing my III standard in Madurai there was a big show of some Indian and foreign muscle men. Names of Tarasingh, who later became a famous cine star, and King Khong are just the names of two Indian muscle men I remember. There were some foreigners with names hard to pronounce. So they had some nick names, names that would attract the local wrestling fans. I remember only one such name, Red Scorpion. He visited our church one day and I remember most of us from our class with our teacher thronged around him as soon as he came out of the church. His visit made us talk about the wrestling matches and the different styles and prowess they had in wrestling. Somebody showed me one of the famous ‘monkey-hold’ of these wrestlers and also the way to wriggle out of it. I had a friend. I vaguely remember that his name was Sivakumar. He used to be shorter than me, though I myself was one of the ‘shorties’ in my classes. I gave a demo as to how to hold that monkey-hold. Poor guy, he did not know the defense for that. So he was totally under my control when I held him so. He was surprised. Then I asked to him to hold me like that. He did. But now I used the trick which was taught to me and overthrew him over my head. Fellow fell flat on the ground and started weeping. I thought the matter was over with that.
But the very next day his mother, a teacher herself, came to our class and met me. She made me feel sad for what I did to her son. I was worried that she may take the matter to my teacher and then to my app a . But she left me with that little reprimand. But Sivakumar who was so far close to me never talked to me after that.
One more incident is also one another unforgettable incident. And since it needs little more importance I plan to save that for the next chapter!