Rolled Monk

Hindi!

In Paati sonna stories!, Singaara Chennai! on May 12, 2010 at 2:10 am

Hello random reader,

Disclaimer : All characters in this story are imaginary. Any similarity to people or incidents though, is purely intentional and it’s just a story. So calm down…

The month was December and the year was 2003. It was a humid day, not unlike the days that came before and after it. It was also “maintenance” week in Chennai, the place where our story unfolds.

Before we go on with the tale, let me explain to you the concept of maintenance. Area-wise, they cut the power in the city from morning 9 till evening 5 for maintenance or at least that is what the news papers say, mentioning the area and the date. What actually happens is, the power goes off by 8 or 7 in the morning and comes back only at around 7 or 8 in the evening, forcing people out into the streets with their hand-fans or news papers.

On such a day, Ramu was in his room, poring over his notes. He was in 9th class and it was his Hindi half-yearly exam the next day. For all he cared, it could have been Greek or Latin. He was wondering, what was the point of exams at all when a more curious thought stuck him.

“Amma…”, he shouted. “What is it Ramu”, came an irritated response from his mother, who was chaperoning him, making sure that he studied. “Why did you make me take up Hindi?”, he asked, in a frustrated tone of voice. His mother came into his room from the kitchen with a tumbler full of steaming bournvita, kept it beside him and said, “So that you can manage if you have to go out of Tamil Nadu kanna, it is our national language isn’t it?”.

Ramu, who knew this reply by rote was still not convinced. He continued to sulk on until she used a more menacing tone and commanded him to study, saying “I am going to go and talk with Devimmaa and I will be back in 1 hour. You had better be done with this lesson by then because I am going to ask you questions”.

It took Ramu the best part of his first 10 minutes to understand his mother’s warning because till now, he had labored under the delusion that she did not know Hindi. In fact, he believed that it was the reason she was particular about him learning Hindi.

For the next 5 minutes, he pondered about Devimmaa, whose actual name was – Well, nobody knew her actual name. Her daughter’s name was Devi and hence she was Devimmaa (his mother was known as lakshmimmaa, Lakshmi his sister’s name)!

Devimmaa was an ever vigilant creäture, whose flat was opposite Ramu’s and served as the source for all the gossip that reached his mother’s ears. She knew everything to know about everyone and even the servants were not beyond her all-seeing eye. She was a witch, devil reincarnate, as far as Ramu was concerned and he made it a point never to be trapped alone with her.

A shiver ran through Ramu’s body, and he said a prayer to the Gods, to keep him safe and continued studying. The lesson he was studying was an essay by some famous pundit, whose name he could never recollect without referring the text. It compared the present day education system with the system of the gurukula, mainly emphasizing on how teachers were akin to Gods back then while now, it has become just a trade.

Ramu began thinking of his Hindi teacher, another vile creäture whom he wished he could erase from his life. She was a frail old woman, whose sole aim in life it would seem, was to suck the life out of students like Ramu.

Ramu remembered the numerous occasions on which she had insulted him in front of the entire class. She used to call him forward, and in front of all, twist his ears and ask him, “45 ko hindi main kya bolte hain?” The longer Ramu took to answer, the more his ear got twisted. And everyone would laugh, everyone including Ritu.

Ritu was Ramu’s angel. He studied in a Sindhi school, and as far as he was concerned, she was the best looking girl there was. He had been love smitten with her since class 7, when she joined school. To his pleasure, he discovered that she was his next role number and figured that she would be seated next to him. To his dismay though, on his first day of class the teacher announced that now since they have “grown up” (Ramu would figure out later what the teacher had meant), the boys and girls had to sit separately.

Ramu was devastated. He didn’t properly eat for a whole week back then and when his mother asked him what was wrong with him, he said in a teary voice, “Why are you asking me? Go ask Devimmaa, I am sure she has cursed me”, which earned him a good whacking on his backside with the broomstick.

Ramu always believed that fate smiled cruelly upon him. This notion of his was confirmed when he found out that Ritu was the Hindi topper. This brought about in Ramu a new surge of interest in the subject which sadly, didn’t even last a week. So he gave up on Hindi but not on Ritu, on whom he had been silently nursing all his affection.

The dull hum of a mosquito shook Ramu from his reverie and he found out that his mother would be coming back in another 15 minutes. So, he began cramming page after page as fast as he could, never grasping what he was actually learning.

“Ramu, have you completed”, his mother asked, and not waiting for an answer, grabbed his note-book from him. She eyed the note-book for a while and glanced at Ramu with disgust. “What handwriting is this? If you are like this, only God can save you. Bagavaanae!!!”, and with that, she threw the book on his face and asked him to continue studying. Ramu, even though relieved, began having his doubts as to whether she really knew Hindi, but he dare not ask her.

And so, the morning went away as such and by the time it was 5pm, the light was insufficient and Ramu had not even completed 50 percent. He said, “Amma, I am not able to read. I am going to sleep. Wake me up when current comes ok?” and went to sleep.

He dreamt that the next day, Ritu showed him her answers and they both topped Hindi together. He was happily holding her hands, ready to pour out his heart to her when “Saniyanae, how long should I wake you? The current came before half an hour. Get up and start studying”, echoed through out the room and he woke up.

He managed to study the remainder of the portions to his best capabilities, put rest of the burden on God and wrote his exam on the next day. As expected, the paper didn’t make any sense and his performance was pathetic. To make things worse, his Hindi teacher positioned herself next to him and was constantly looking into his paper, making sorry sounds to herself as Ramu continued writing as if he didn’t mind her presence.

His performance was so bad that even he was shocked on the day the papers were distributed. You see, Ramu had never failed in his entire life. He had somehow managed to scrape through all these days. But that time, “Naalaayak”, his Hindi teacher screamed, adding insult to the injury (she was twisting his ears of course). He was completely in tears and before she sent him back to his seat, she said, “Aaj se tu mere class mai Ritu ke saath baitaega aur ussae seekhaegaa”. Now Ramu even through all this pain and agony was able to comprehend that she had used his and Ritu’s name in the same sentence. But he had no idea what she meant.

Ultimately, he figured it out, was happily seated next to her for the rest of the hour and he completely forgot about his results, until he reached home that is…

Since then through his, Ritu’s and his mother’s sedulous efforts,  Ramu’s Hindi improved and finally, he cleared it in 10th and got rid of it for life. Ironically, his hatred for Hindi grew with his understanding of the language and it became so strong that, after a while, he even began hating Ritu for being so good at it…

So till I write again…ciao ciao.

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  1. Nice one man. Enjoyed reading this 🙂

  2. lol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    brought back memories of primary n high skool!
    good one!
    continue ta good wrk!
    lookin 4ward 2 ta next one!

  3. wait a min you just cant end a louuu story like that…even though I sense this post to be strangely autobiographical!!

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