It all started on a pleasant spring afternoon when on seeing the black monsoon clouds stealthily engulfing the blueness of our small town sky, a cuckoo sitting on an electric pole outside our home started piping .
On hearing its kuhu-kuhu, my name(meaning the cuckoo) came to my mind ,then, something related to it, then some other thought , some other thing.......... and fastened by this thread of memory I was towed towards that lane which turned to my school.
My school, where a whole community of birds, from cuckoos to crows and ravens, from pigeons to parrots and doves used to coo and caw ,trill and twitter and sing and chatter !! These sweet (?) sounds were made in front of our class only and that too in perfect symphony with different teachers' different voice modulations.
some times I used to wonder if they (the birds )simply know which teacher was due in which period and so the pancham sur wali koel would hurriedly exchange places with the karkash crow for Negi sir's physics class ..and the guturgoon pigeons and trilling doves would take the position for Mrs. Tyagi's hindi recitations....
In Mr. Kiskew's English class it was almost impossible to hear him ,as for one he used to speak VERY slowly and softly (being the mild mannered literature teacher perhaps) and the second being, that some parrots would suddenly decide for a quick meet and would importantly chatter at that time only.
It made my pinna ache in effort to catch Mr. Kiskew's beautiful words explaining ' The Solitary Reaper'....
In childhood I studied in this respectable Mission school where most teachers were suave, petite Christians of young age from South and Other parts of India and abroad. While speaking their names I found the phonetics so nice that I used to use the names as much as I can while interacting with anybody .For my kiddie mind those were like pronouncing fabulous different words resulting in beautiful sounds .... Mrs. Patrick, Mrs.Massey.Mrs Shaw , Mr. Kiskew (??)They (the lady teachers) used to wear long straight skirts,keep their hair in rolls or bobbed as was the fashion of that time and all which was very quaint in our small , sleepy town of 80s; but was fascinating also!
All this made my school environment quite rich ...... er ....diverse.To me the kids in my class made the world as there were students as white as snow (Sana Khan), as wheatish as wheat(majority of them), dusky like me, black like Negros (Daniel and...mmm........names have gone to the altar of sketchy memory........) and a brother-sister duo ,yellow with slanting eyes like Chinese(but the sister being the most BEAUTIFUL girl with blackest eyes and long eyelashes ).And like all other kids of this world we were also free from the prejudice of caste, creed and complexion.
We were vivacious, playful and friendly.
We used to wave to the passing trains and count the coaches and then fight as every child would end up counting different no. of coaches.
We fought over swings, plucked mulberries from the grand mulberry tree in school premises, frightened each other by telling lame silly ghost stories and to test the existence of God , used to do utterly false God-Promises.
At that time I'd be free and happy ....
When I used to tell a story i 'd measure the full universe Paatal se aakash tak on the wings of imagination ...and the class would sit silent,spellbound,smitten by my silken web of words, all of them, with their face in their pudgy hands ,looking at me tukur-tukur. Sometimes even Mrs. Massey would stop her work for a minute or two and absentmindedly put the pen between her pearly teeth to listen to me. .. I would feel shy ,embarrased and happy.
Mrs. Massey was a very nice teacher- competent and trendy!
She used to teach us in class 4th.Her bobbed and curly hair fell up to her nape.She used to wear bright clothes with nail-paint to match and also a pair of bright shiny ''thak-thak sounding pencil heeled sandals.Her husband Mr.Massey was quite big and was bearded, tall and Goliath like (to our young eyes) but was a very sweet person.Their sweet little daughter-Nina was my dear friend whom I used to adore very much.
It was in Mrs. Massey's class the cuckoo would pipe and my mind used to get diverted. Sometimes I was unable to distinguish if it's cuckoo or some other bird, still that whole atmosphere was sufficient to motivate my creativity.It was From class 4th that I started to organise my poems in a diary.I along with my friend Rajani used to weave a story with the names of all our classmates as characters !
It was in this class that both of us made a ditty on the names of all flowers in the school compound-
"duck flowers are beautiful,
dog flowers are bright,
daffodils are marvellous;
bougainvilleas so light....."
The song was very long and by the time we reached to its end we'd forgotten the start...
From all my other schools,I love my this school the most. Its red bricked big but simple and graceful building, which looks very sweet amidst the sprawling green of school compound trees, will always keep on luring me.
Its playgrounds, swings and small toy like houses of principle sir and the staff with slanting roofs and a missionary influence ,inside which thick carpets were there and which gave me the feel as if I've come to the London country homes. (I've never been to London though ) Or I've landed in Ruskin Bond's Dehradoon and Mussorie houses where a fireplace was always there complete with brass or silver candle stands on the mantle, are and will be always dear to me. And every time a koel will coo ,I will fondly remember my school in its full pristine glory , with its lush greens and shimmering red brick building - a vivid memory complete with disciplined yet gentle teachers and loads of knowledge imparted with care and affection.
(Images are from you know :) Google.)