I, along with my brother, moved to a private school when I was in fifth standard. The reason for this switch was the English. English was not the part of curriculum in government primary schools at that time. We were registered in the government school, as the new school didn’t have the authority required to issue the passing certificates. The emblem of the new school seemed to be “bhay se bhoot bhi bhagate hain” (event the ghosts run by fear). Or in other words the students were terrorized by the teachers.
Coming back to English, the English teacher was himself a B.A. student and was working part time. He was younger brother of school owner and had taught in the school before. Since I was new in the school, I didn’t know about him. He came in the last period of the day and talked about how learning the English words was the first necessity. Then at the end of his maiden lesson he asked the class to come prepared with at least fifty new words beginning with “A”. Most of the students were worried because it didn’t seem feasible to memorize that many words. One of my friends warned me that he is as cruel as his brother and it will be better to do my best to come up with the task.
I went home, opened the dictionary and looked for the words with the length not more than six, so that they will be easy to memorize or will take less space in memory. I short listed around sixty words (Because if I will memorize sixty now then I would be able to recall at most fifty) and wrote down in a notebook. Now it was time to fix them in my brain. I broke the words in two parts such that “Abo-ut”. So that it will become easy to remember the spelling and the meaning. I revised all the words at least five times. I wrote the words in a separate paper to see, how many of those I could recall and revised again.
Next day it was again the last period of the day and the class was exhausted. The teacher came with a cane (fresh broken thin Neem branch). Without wasting time he ordered us to write down all the words, beginning with “A”, which we could recall in twenty minutes. There was no need to write the meaning of the word, just spelling was enough. I began writing and to my misery I stopped after thirty four words(I don’t know how do I remember the exact number now). I tried my best to recall the rest of the words which I memorized previous day. But it was in vain I could not write any more. He asked us to stop and collected the sheets. Now he with the help of another boy started counting the total words written in each sheet and wrote the numbers along with the students name on the black board for everyone to see.
Students had written in the range of 20 to 48 words. I had written second highest, 34. Now it was the time for all of us to face the music as nobody scored fifty. As the school closing time was nearing, the teacher knew that he won’t be able to punish all of the students, so devised a method to finish the punishing task (even for him). He subtracted the numbers of words written by the students out of fifty such as 50-48 = 2 to 50-20=30. These were the number of slaps. Now he asked us to choose our slapping partners, such that in a group of two one has to receive his slaps from another and viceversa. All the groups started with the job then suddenly he asked all of us to stop as we were not slapping hard enough, and called a boy to show how hard to slap. He slapped him so hard that the boy’s cheek turned red. Now he asked all of us to start the process again. This time most of us gave good facial massage to one another.
Now it was time to call it a day at the school and all of us packed our bags and started leaving for our homes. Everybody seemed to be ashamed of them for hitting their friends. But there were also some boys who were giggling about the entreating process.
I was thinking how that boy wrote 48 words even though he was not that much studious. I went to him and asked “how did you memorize that many words?” At first he seemed reluctant to tell but then he unearthed the trick with the condition that I should not tell anyone. He told that he thought that teacher himself may not know all the words and all he was going to do was to count the words written by the boys. So he just wrote the words without worrying whether the words he was writing were genuine or not. All he wanted was to make sure that he didn’t write more than fifty to avoid the teacher’s suspicion. He later told me that he wrote the words like “Aklmts”, “Apmtsd” (written for example by me as I don’t remember the exact words told by him) and it went as contrived. I was really impressed with his ingenuity.
Now that smart boy is one of my best friends. He is serving Indian army now a days.
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