Monday, September 1, 2008

The Westcottians

This story began in a time of innocence, dreams and nothingness and span over sometime calm and sometime turbulent quarter century, culminating in me jotting down these lines in multitude of alphabets similarly scattered over the cyberspace.

It was the fall of 1984-85 when I first entered the precinct of Bishop Westcott Boys School, one of the oldest schools in the eastern region of India founded in the year 1927 by Rev. Foss Westcott. Located on the bank of River Subarnarekha, situated in a picturesque green environs the school had the distinction of serving as a make shift hospital during the World War II and a movie based on it called "Hip Hip Hurray"

So here I was….The first day was very hectic where all new boys were assembled in the prayer room after the morning prayers to be sorted in four respective houses which were to be their family or identity of sorts throughout their years at Westcott Boys’ ,New students were hurdled in the centre of the room where they were to pull a chit from a fishbowl ……It took me sometime to understand what was happening…..
By then it was my turn…….. one of the teacher called out “Nelson House” and here I was marked for life…It was only latter in the day that I realized each house was represented by colours . Nelson- Blue ,Hastings-Red, Wellington-Green & Allenby- Yellow next we queued up in book depot and got our new books and notebooks. Rest of the day passed and we settled in our new desks and benches in our respective classes.

It was a time we wanted two Sundays and no Mondays and yet managed to line up daily for the morning prayers at Assembly hall. When we use to chase one another in the corridors in breaks and returned to the classrooms drenched in sweat. Those were the days when we had lunch in Classrooms, Corridors, Playgrounds, under the Trees and even in Cycle Sheds.

We use to have two “Roll calls” –one early morning after the prayers and one in the Afternoon…..I remember we use to check our nails and try to chew it off at the seams, If shoes were not polished it was wiped behind the trouser legs or socks as “Juniors” were not allowed to wear Trousers.

Westcott was highly competitive where students never use to forget their individual ambitions. Students at Westcott wanted to be the best. It was hard to shine at a place where there are so many stars. Often, even if you were a stellar student in many areas, there was probably going to be someone better than you at something else. This competitive spirit pushed people to do better and achieve an even higher level of excellence. Many times, this academic environment involves a great amount of stress and Westcott was not for the faint hearted. The workload was rigorous right from learning mathematics with its calculations, physics with its proportions and chemistry with its equations, life was filled with hopes, dreams, confusions, tensions, happiness and sadness, a beautiful world of success and failure. Altogether it was an eventful one. The loving and caring words of our teachers, their claps at our victory, smiles at my achievements, those special moments set aside to talk and listen, their encouragement till the end

It was a time when a single P.T. period in the week's time table was awaited more eagerly than the annual appraisals of any large corporate house .It was a time of fights but no conspiracies, of competitions but seldom jealousy, When we used to watch live cricket telecast in one of our teachers’ bungalow in Intervals and Lunch breaks.

It was a time when “Days Scholars” rushed at 2:30 to "Conquer" window seats in our School buses and hostelites or “Boarders” use to make same rush during meal times with all boys hung on to the fragile rear door of their respective dining hall (We had two of them Juniors & Siniors)
when the kaka (the helpers were fondly called that) opened the door, 800 plus starving students rushed in for breakfast, tea, lunch or dinner. Each meal started and ended with a grace. Food was quite restricted in those days and every opportunity of grabbing extras from the “Dekchis” or you neighbour’s plate was made use of. We often bartered food items. Boys who brought eatables from home (called TUCK) guarded them like gold. One of my classmates brought some milk sweets from home and kept them away from us. One day he surprisingly became generous and starting distributing them to all, only to find no one eating them because they had picked up fungus. We also had one Sushil Maheskar who was once hunting for some money to go for a movie. He entered our room and asked us for some which we naturally refused. He then sighted some loose coins lying in front of the god’s Portrait. He picked out a few toffees from his pocket, dropped them in front of the god’s photo and picked up all the coins and left stating that his requirement was more than that of God.

During those days the “boys” and “teachers” were given nicknames and were called by those nicknames (Boys openly referred each others by nicknames but we were more discrete where it concerned our teachers and use to refer them by their nicknames only behind their back) , some of my friends were Michel Daru (his name was Mukul Kumar),Dibba ( He kept all his Boxes intact and use to take it back home at the end of each term) ,Nepali ( due to his anatomical resemblance),Foggy(Vikas fogla),Lambu(Rahul Shahdeo due to his height),Teachers’ nickname were traditionally passed on from one generation to another and were equally colourful ;Viz, Chakra (Mr.Chakraborthy),Bando (Mr. Bandopadya), Daku(or dacoit due to his aggressive and abusive dialect), We had Dingu or Mr.Dinger use to make comidies out of  Shakeshpere tragedies.

There was a big craze for collecting “Big Fun” stickers and flag stickers. Most of our canteen money was spent on them. Boarders used to get twenty rupees on Sundays to go on out pass and during these time of City visit “Siniors” were to accompany the “Juniors”. Part of the money was also used in going to a “bakery” as our Canteen was called and eating some snacks. We often stole snacks and hide them in one pocket to eat later. The remaining amount was used to bribe the gatekeepers of the Sujata and Mini-Sujata theatres to check ou on Adult Movies.

The competitions for the inter house championship were taken very seriously and I had got into the habit of noting down points. As per official records our house was coming second but my records showed we were first. The anomaly was corrected and we walked away with the championship trophy. My house captain gave me a day’s leave for my effort. Another high point of my School days was Sports Day, and the annual School Day and month long preparations for them. Though my dream of seeing “Nelson” house at the top was never fulfilled ,the best we did was reaching the 2nd position .but I still cherish the adulation and admiration I use to get every year for one whole month for being one of “Champions”.

Imprinted in the memory lanes are the stressful quarterly, half yearly and annual exams and the most enjoyed holidays after them. We learnt, we enjoyed, we played, we won, we lost, we laughed, we cried, we fought, we thought. With so much fun in them, so many friends,
so much experience, all this and more.

Days passed, years flew at Westcott after a tumultuous, fun-filled journey and finally we were at the end of our school career. By then the miscreants were reformed, misdemeanors were punished and misunderstandings are cleared up and here we were transformed from boys into young men ready to take on the world with our aspirations and dreams

The last day is still very vivid when all of us were busy filling our scrap books and meeting teachers after our emotional and teary farewell , it was time to remember our days and years in Bishop Westcott Boys’ School ,It was time to remember our own stories and snippets through the years inside those four walls and relieve saga of members of the class of 1995 and teachers with whom their lives were intertwined. With the dusk setting in we left bidding one last farewell, this time for the good with our School motto “Non Nascor Mihi Solum” (Live not for self alone) printed in our heart.

Our lives took its own course and we all parted ways to meet again but not in such large numbers and whenever we met it was time to compare the balance sheet of our lives and always at the center amid the passion, laughter, and glory, stood Westcott the symbol of who we are and what we will be. We were a generation who made the rules and then broke them…We were “THE CLASS OF 95.”

3 comments:

*Aham* said...

"Youth comes but once in a lifetime" so said Longfellow. Contrary to his name (longfellow) he spoke hinting at the small moment of life that is either a hit or miss. Glad that you experienced it well. After reading your post, I now yearn for a hostel life. :-)

Prabhash said...

Hi,

The most interesting aspect of my westcott life was to be able to walk in in 1984 and walk out in 1994 while being completely missed by everyone concerned!!!

The memories I carry the most is one, how I managed to score a perfect 100 in my written entrance exam and was able to utter exactly one word for my Viva. The written eventually rewrded me with a seat in the 1st standard, the Viva, an hour in the Sun, nude, as punishment for the Viva fiasco, by Papaji. :-) Come to think of it, i don't remember being coached for the Viva!!!

two, It was a class assignment in the 10th Standard where we had to finish a short story eding with "...when I opened the door, there was no one there"

I turned in a ghost story, got a zero and a comment in red, by Mrs. Kenshwar, our english teacher "Next time, please write an original short story!" The fact is, it WAS an original short story and I wish I had preserved the note book (I guess it is lying around somewhere at our home, if not already decayed.)

Well, that was 1993-94, here I am in 2008 trying to go beyond the 1st 10,000 words of my first novel...and guess who it would be dedicated to... Mrs. Kenshwar, who else for showing me that I have the substance.

Prateek N kumar said...

Hi Bro....Life's obstacle are usually taken as milestone by people who aspire to be great.You have good writing skills, hope to see your book on bestseller list soon...