I was studious in my school days, but that did not mean that I did not like to have fun. I liked lunch breaks and longed to have those “free periods” when we were told to just be inside the classrooms and do whatever and nobody watched us. Most of the class also liked the sports periods, although I was not fond of them, so much. It was a stark contrast between the potential seen in me by the sports teacher and the other teachers.

During my 7th standard, once our whole class was yearning to go out in the playground, as it was a sunny morning of winter. We didn’t have any sports period on that day and we had no courage to ask for it, to any teacher. But we saw some hope. We realized that our next period was of English subject and Mr. Choudhary was sort of a quiet teacher. We thought that we could persuade him. But nobody wanted to bell the cat. Then, one of our classmates, Anil, hatched a plan where no one had to speak. He placed a football on the teacher’s table. He also cleaned the blackboard and wrote the word सम्प, meaning ‘the strike’ in the Marathi language, in very big letters. It should have been spelled as संप and I was surprised how Anil managed to misspell a word as simple as this.

After some time, Mr. Choudhary walked into the classroom, in his usual style, slowly and quietly, with his head down. He must have noticed some unusual silence in the classroom, but he must have connected the dots when he also saw the football on the table and our message to him on the board. However, his expressions did not change. He stood there for a few moments, looked around, and without speaking a word left the classroom quietly. It took some time to dawn on us that our plan had actually worked. Then we had cheers and celebrations in the classroom. Everyone congratulating the other. As this went on for a few minutes, we noticed that Mr. Choudhary was entering the classroom again, with the same quietness and with his head down. But something was not right. He had few green canes of Besharam1 plant in his hand. We kind of got the idea of where it was heading. For the next 10 to 15 minutes he caned everyone of us maintaining the same pristine silence. After the “demolition”, he cleaned the board and spoke to us for the first time on that day, “Open your textbooks.”

1 This wildly growing plant in our region, otherwise useless, had two purposes, especially near schools, one, it grows large flowers to easily see their parts, and two, it formed an unlimited supply of canes for teachers who did not have any preferred form of their canes.

(featured image: Photo by Martin Lopez from Pexels)