School days are the most treasured moments, be it good or bad, in everybody’s life. But mine were bad as I was a stubborn dunce from Classes 1 to 7, average in Classes 8 and 9 and barely passed my matriculation with a third division.
Words fail me on how to eulogise my intelligence or wisdom. The more I tried to do better in the exams, the more heartbreaking the results were: 40% in aggregate in the September house tests, 35% in December and 33% in the final examinations. My memory was so sharp that if I learned two pages by rote, I could retain and write only two lines in the paper for the rest would just slip from my memory.
We were a group of four bright friends - all competing with each other to get “superb marks”. I remember once we were attending a history class after the school was over. The history teacher put a question about the subject to a friend. His wrong answer left our classmates and the teacher in splits.
Amazingly, none in the group of four laughed. No sooner had the class stopped laughing that we broke into laughter and kept laughing till we were asked to leave the classroom and stand outside as a punishment.
The most harrowing time was every March 31, when the annual results would be out and the class teacher asked us to secure the parents’ signature on the report card. It was an unenviable proposition as the poor marks implied a sound beating by father. So, I undertook to forge my father’s signature on the report card from Classes 7 and 9.
Few, except the subject teachers and the principal, were able to fathom the depth of our intelligence. Besides, our perfor mance was equally “good” in extracurricular activities. I never took part in the annual school functions and sports events. But yes, we played cricket behind our classroom in the lunch break and created a record by breaking the maximum number of windowpanes.
The school authorities were gracious to acknowledge my sports achievements (of breaking windowpanes) and awarded me a one-week rest in the form of rustication from school.
Then my fascination and loyalty changed and I found soccer to stand up for. Once we were practising in the playground while teachers were enjoying a colleague’s farewell party near the ground. A wrong kick made the football orbit and crash onto the party table, throwing off the cake. Somehow I managed to make good my escape in the nick of time.
Once after being pressurised by teachers, I got my name registered for the declamation contest. When the final day dawned and my name was being called out, I was fast asleep at home.
Even during chance meetings at the marketplace and elsewhere, our teachers turned a blind eye to us, though we never forgot to wish them. Such was our wisdom and reputation.