Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Army Man

The village schooling didn’t benefit me anywhere near as much as to make it worth a mention.
But one incident in particular is worth mentioning.

Whilst we were at Nerur, my uncle, an army man serving in Egypt during WWI, got disbanded and came back to the village with a severe malarial attack.
He was tall, stout and was possessed of a forbidding personality; add to this his reputation as an ex-service man, returned from the front!
It was no wonder everyone in the village treated him with a marked respect and certain reservation. Amongst the busy-bodies (aren’t there a few in any place on the surface of the earth?) there were rumors of guns, shots in the dark and at extremes day-light shootings!

We still have this cartridge at home!

At school then, one day, a teacher was endeavoring to ‘cane’ a student who was doing his best to squirm out of the way. The boy won the battle, jumped out of the way, and the lash fell on my unsuspecting lap.
This resulted in a painful welt, but I suppressed the affair without bringing it to the notice of my parents; I wasn’t the intended recipient of the caning after all.

The next morning, my uncle and I were taking our routine bath in the channel which ran right through the middle of the ‘Agraharam’. My uncle as was the norm was rubbing me down with the soap-bar. When he got to the welt on my leg, I shouted out in pain.
When he learnt what had happened, he sent word to the teacher; a call-out as it were. I tried my best to pacify my uncle, but to no effect.

The teacher came to our house, trembling, babbling a stream of excuses. A single stare from my uncle was his undoing.  I begged my uncle to proceed no further as the ‘incident’ has occurred by accident and finally, the poor teacher was allowed to escape physically unscathed but mentally bruised, with the greatest of difficulty!

Needless to say, he was thereafter extremely conscious of the banes of caning!

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