My school-mates often come up with interesting accounts of their school days in our school blog.. We were boarders and had our share of fun. I had a younger sister who was put in the junior dormitory. I was in charge of the snacks and toilet items that we got from home. I’d play the ‘big’ sister and would get cold stares not only from my younger sibling but a group of her friends who were on her side. We laughed and played, shared and cared, quarreled and made up and had loads of fun in our own way. However, should anyone ask me whether kids 10 and 12 years of age should be put in a hostel I’d say ‘ not until absolutely essential’. Home is always a better option for growing children. Any way this is beside the point. I wish to share with you an episode that stands out in my memory as if it were yesterday although forty years have flown by.
We in the girls hostel were generally curious to know how things were with the boys. They lived in an annex that was a mile from our hostel. They’d be paraded to our hostel three times a day for meals. They hated to be brought in like prisoners of war while we watched them with suppressed smiles. The prefect would walk in front and their warden would guard the rear. They would walk two by two according to their height. The sub junior group had their dormitory in our hostel so the boy’s annex housed the age group of 8 to 18 years.
On a Monday morning the boys came in but they didn’t join us for breakfast. They were made to stand in front of the principal’s office. They had been up to some mischief that much was clear. They would not look at us nor did they talk among themselves. Their prefect stood there along with them saying nothing at all. Finally the Principal came down. Mr. Oomen Samuel who was also our Science teacher briefed her of the situation. Soon we also got to hear the story. The senior boys had bought masala dosai through a day student, sneaked it to the dormitory and had a kind of dosai party at midnight. To be on the safe side they had locked up the warden’s room from outside but forgot to unlock it before going to bed. The charges against them were-
They had kept their pocket money when it had to be turned in to the warden. All purchases had to be made through him.
Food was not to be brought into the sleeping area.
By locking up the warden they were setting a bad precedence.
The Principal asked the culprits to own up or face the consequence. ‘No Breakfast’.
No one responded. Not even the junior most. Nor the prefect.Some of the girls had brothers among those punished. They tried to sneak food to their brothers but the brothers refused to eat.
We went to our classes and came back for lunch. The boys were standing in the scorching sun. No breakfast and no lunch also. The principal tried to divide the group. She spoke to the juniors with no result. Finally at three in the afternoon they boys were given lunch after being given a severe warning. We never ever came to know who were the students responsible for the act.
I recently posed my question on the blog. I recalled the incident and asked for the inside story. Pat came the reply from a junior whose name I remember but not his face “ I was the worthy who locked up Mr. Samuel. But it was not for masala dosai but chicken biriyani! And we were punished by Mr Varghese not Miss Cheriyan.” His reply gave me a new insight. Batch after batch locked up Mr. Samuel when they wanted to have a party.More often than not they were caught and punished.
But the incident also renewed my admiration to the group. It was evident to all that the juniors were not involved in the act. The Principal was only using them to get out the truth. They either feared their seniors or were loyal to them or may be a bit of both. Hostel life united hearts and they were one thro’ thick or thin.