Blog | When Jomon got us all caught..

cricketWe had just given our first board exams. We were now seniors. We had shorter schooltime. And we were bored doing nothing! So what we decided to do was play cricket. But we never knew that it would culminate into a comical afternoon of sheer madness.

The cricket was usual. Our seniors had also been bored and jobless at their time. So when our time came, we gladly stepped into their shoes to play ball in the ground adjoining our school (of course it had to be a ground outside.. who would ever want a bunch of rowdy teenagers in their own grounds!). So ya, the cricket was usual. Noone had a problem with that. But the hullabuloo, the nasty yells and the series of the choiciest expletives that came along was an obvious no-no for everyone. And that was what was objectionable.

And so it had to be stopped. But we had to be caught somewhere. The banning of the game had to begin with us getting caught in the act. And this is how it happened.

We would sometimes have classes after the recess in the afternoon. So to have fun in the recess, what we would do is play catch and run like little toddlers. Of course it was fun! Its normal when toddlers do it. Its stupidity when seniors do the same. And yeah, at our age, stupidity was fun!

So every afternoon corridors would get flooded with seniors and mega seniors (well that was how our own giant Anku was referred to) puffing up and down all corridors, like siblings of The Hulk, slamming away every child that dared step in our way. No we weren’t actually so mean to our juniors but that is the image that Anku brings to my mind.

And it was Anku himself who gave our Vice Principal Mrs. Pandit the right string to pull. So one December afternoon while a sweaty fearless Anku was pacing down the corridor after a rat like Jomon running away for his dear life, Mrs Pandit stepped in his tracks and much to the rescue of Jomon, stopped Anku from nabbing him with his giant cigar-like fingers.

Minutes later the entire gang of about 14 guys were lined in front of the toilet and given a sound scolding. (Sound for the teachers.. routine for us.. and yeah ignote the venue..) Arshad as usual, pleaded his innocence but was not let off. Anirban, as was usual, stood by his side, smugly laughing away to glory. Ashwini and Abhimanyu, the most notorious twins in the school’s history were busy playing jokes at one end of the line. Jomon was thanking Jesus for saving him from Anku’s clutches and the rest of us stood their like newly born innocent souls, each with an alibi of not being there.

Mrs. Pandit made most of the occassion to sound us her warning. We were not to play in school or outside. Especially not in school uniforms, since our rant of serial abuses wasn’t exactly a part of the curricullum in school and so should not paint a bad picture of the school to the world. So we could be hooligans but just not in the uniform. After all the school had not taught us these special oratory skills. Fair enough.

But there were four problems:

One – Most of us lived far and could not go home to change.
Two – Those who lived near were too lazy to change.
Three – We were just too stubborn.
Four – Who cared?

So considering all the options we had in our hands, it was unequivocally decided that these warnings were not to be paid heed to. On the other hand, we were all terrified of Mrs. Pandit (who wasn’t?) so we had to be more careful. So we stood there “with our heads hung low and shame in our hearts” (err.. sounds the exact opposite of the opening line of our school song) knowing that not much would change.

So the next day we were back again. After the school got over, the entire gang was in the ground again, as if nothing had ever happened. What we forgot was:

a) there was a big window in the corridor adjoining the school to he ground; and
b) after-lunch period was the time Mrs. Pandit made her daily rounds.

The match was going on in full glory. It was already half an hour into the match and after the initial sense of look-out-for-Mrs-Pandit caution, we had gradually grown more committed to the match than the previous day’s warning. In the meanwhile, Mrs. Pandit set out on her round and in a few minutes, reached the window. She spent a good five minutes standing there looking right at us playing merrily into glory.

Then suddenly, the ever lethal Anish Nikhil Demta routed Ashwini’s stumps and Gurpreet called for a no ball. Gurpreet, the umpire was accused of cheating as he was on Ashwini’s team. Arshad tried playing the mediator while Jomon continued to laugh his way through the fight. Volumes went up. The swears started. Calling names and abusing became everyone’s mother tongue in a few seconds and Jomon’s laughs reached an equalling decible.

And it was then that Mrs Pandit decided that enough was enough. She yelled out,”Hey you guys!”

And in the following few seconds the ground became silent like a graveyard. Everyone froze to their spots and didn’t move a muscle. In a fraction of the next second, their brains processed the call and reported back that it was Mrs. Pandit indeed who had shouted at them. In the next fraction, they all turned to the window. The brain again responded that it was indeed Mrs. Pandit herself standing there. And in the final fraction, it was total chaos.

Ashwini and Abhimanyu ran to their house right next to the ground. A few followed them inside. One guy leapt to his bike and was out of sight in a matter of seconds. Three guys near the boundary line jumped right down the slope of the ground into the jungle. A few hid behind the trees. Jomon found shelter behind a rock, which obviously only hid his face leaving the entire body exposed.

But the most creative of them all was Anish! The poor guy who had just bowled a superb delivery was standing in the middle of the pitch in the middle of the ground. In the bright sunlight, there was no chance that Mrs. Pandit would confuse his super-black profile with someone else’s. The clueless chap first ran a few steps towards the trees on one end of the field but realised it was too far to get to before Mrs. Pandit would take her eyes off the rest of them. Then he ran a few steps in the opposite direction towards the jungle but decided it was not close either. So…. he just dropped dead on the ground, hoping Mrs. Pandit would actually believe he had fallen dead!

For the next fifteen minutes, even the leaves had gone still. There was no movement, not even from Anish was so convincingly playing the dead guy. And then someone mustered the courage to check if our Vice Principal was still there. After a few minutes’ scutiny, it was decided that all was safe and that it would now be safe to come out and run back home.

The next day, I overheard Mrs. Pandit retelling the entire tale to Mr. Sadhan. “Jomon thought he could hide behind the rock.. But I could see his curly hair sticking out. And Anish actually thought I would be foolish enough to think he is dead!” The good thing was that she was laughing. Even she knew, that it was only natural for us to break those rules. We were just being our age.. just being ourselves..

Back then it was so much fun. Mrs. Pandit of course, was right. We had to act like seniors and spend more time with the books than with the bat. And that we sure could not fool her. And yeah, the expletives were not that bad.. I just exaggerated it a bit to make Arshad, Gurpreet and Anish look evil.
But the incident itself remains so hilarious and entertaining to recall that it still makes my rib hurt with laughter. Good game guys. And
nicely played, Anish and Jomon. Arshad, we all know you did not do anything. Who ever did?