The Secret Cult
So, I am back with another funny incident to tell you from my school. It comes from the time when I was in class 10th. There were six of us- Ankur (Gaur), Arvind, Gauraw, Pradumn, Me, Sandeep and Vishal (also called as Mama). We used to hang around together as we thought we were the sanest people in the class. Others consisted of characters such as, Some transport company owner’s sons who were least concerned about studies and the thing that mattered most for them were there looks, A mad guy who nobody knows why was always bullying students as well as teachers, Some guys who had an established business and were going to carry on with it after school and were just passing the time nowhere but in the school and Girls don’t need a mentioning (no offence intended).
During the time for lunch all the students were to go out on the ground; nobody should remain in the building. We all were forced out from the classes. Everybody ate their lunch on the ground and spent their time there only. But it’s not fun being everybody, so we always wanted a departure from the regular thing. We found a place that hardly anybody knew or visited. It was our secret place. The layout of our school is difficult to explain but what I can tell you is there are 4 halls made in front of the main building which can be used for different activities and the first of the halls and the main building both touched the boundary of the ground. From behind the first hall was a half built swimming pool, which was in that condition since time immemorial. The pool counted for length of one hall and after that, behind the hall there was an empty space which was not used. Mango trees grew there and there were stairs made on the backside of halls for entry on the stage in times of some function. These stairs served as our dining place and everyday we used to go there and have our lunch in peace and serenity away from all the chaos and ruckus that went on the ground.
In those days when you are young you are captivated by such things as a secret society or a thing that is just between you and your friends, especially in your adolescence. The secret lunch place proved to be the bonding for our undeclared secret society. Although nobody said it but it was there, all of us were a member of this group which had its headquarters behind the halls and met everyday at lunch. This was our place, I being the most enthusiastic about such things (thanks to my addiction for Hollywood movies and adventure novels), thought that there has to be one thing that unites us. One thing that differentiated our identities and would always be there to make us feel belonged.
This was achieved by a slogan which was coined after the brand of a water tank. Yes, a water tank. It was iconic because we also had a secret place to drink water after having our lunch, where a plastic water tank was placed with a water purifier attached to it. The school had a separate primary section for kids studying in classes of nursery, LKG and UKG. It was situated adjoining the halls, but no one from higher classes was permitted to go there. At the main entrance of the primary section a guard was always there to stop students of higher classes going there. But we found a back entry into the primary section which went through our dinning place (We also had a secret way to enter into the school building during the lunch time). After finishing the lunch we all went to the primary section through the secret way and there we drank water from the water tank in which water purifier was attached (we did this because apart from this one we trusted no other water purifier in the school which were broken most of the time). The brand of the plastic water tank was ‘Sarita’ nobody among us had ever heard that brand before. Because of the peculiarity of the brand name that place became to be known as ‘Sarita ki tanki’. It was another thing which was limited to our access only and symbolized us. So one day while drinking water from there I suddenly had an illumination.
“You know what, it is very unique” I said
“What is unique?” asked Arvind
“The name of the manufacturer. Sarita. Have you ever heard a water tank brand with that name?” I questioned them.
“Yeah we know that. What’s new in it? What is there that you find it that amazing?” asked Vishal.
“No we must do something with this, like make a ritual of some sort. What I propose every time before drinking water from here we will say Yo Sarita” I made my suggestion. I know it will sound weird and silly but it was a figment of my fantasy at that time. Initially the proposal was not received very well. Rest of them laughed and made fun but gradually it sank in. Sometime just for fun somebody would say Yo Sarita before drinking water and then everybody laughed, I was also making fun my silliness that brought about this slogan. Slowly but surely we started using it. Sarita ki tanki slowly became a regular spot.
During my school time, especially till class 10th, I had a flare for being on leave. Hardly went a week when I came to the school on all 6 days. My average per week was 4 days of school and 2 days of leave. It was another day when I was on leave. My friends had finished their lunch and went to Sarita ki tanki. After quenching the thirst they were coming back. On the way back one of our seniors(who was a feared charechter in the school) was sitting there with his friend (or girlfriend :P) in a corner of the passage between the halls. Vishal was shouting something and suddenly he cried out the slogan, the water ritual Yo Sarita, as they were passing by the seniors. You may say it coincidence or you may say it a bad luck, the name of his friend was also SARITA.
The senior had a reputation of a crack head. He was a prominent figure in the school and everybody was intimidated with him. He was the DADA of the school. As soon as he heard that he got up in fury (I wished I was there) and came up to Vishal.
“What? You think you are very smart? Haan?” he asked angrily. “You know with whom you are messing?” he was boiling. Vishal and rest of the guys were clueless what had happened. “Why were you shouting my girlfriend’s name like this? You think you will get away?” He asked Vishal. Now things started to clear up a bit, his girlfriend was also Sarita and so was the water tank. Somebody from the guys tried to clear up the confusion but he was not buying it. As I was not there, so I cannot surely tell, but what everybody else said that Vishal was beaten. Although Vishal refused that he was beaten up and maintained the statement that he only held Vishal’s hand and twisted it. Anyways fortunately or unfortunately lunch was over and the senior left Vishal for the next day asking him to meet him on the ground.
Next day I came to school unaware of the happenings of the previous day. Vishal was not there. “Where is Vishal?” I asked. “He will not come” answered Arvind in a strange manner. “Why?” I inquired as it was only me who went on a leave without any reason. “Sarita” answered Pradumn “Sarita?” I was confused. “Yes, because of our Sarita ki tanki” added Ankur. They explained me the whole incident and we all were laughing for the whole day. That day during the lunch time the senior did come with his friends on the ground. We tried to explain him the whole situation and tried to clarify, this time he was bit calm and took in what we said. We had to take him to the spot to prove that there is a brand of water tank named Sarita. For next three days Vishal didn’t come to school and nobody ever mentioned the name Sarita, at least not when we had other guys around. 😛
I completed my high school from Guru Harkishan Public School, Indore. As with everyone, high school accounts for lots of interesting and memorable events. Some of those moments remain with you for a life time and when ever you meet your old pals those are the things that you remember and laugh about. This is one such narration.
It was another day in the school. We were in Class 11th. As always we had to go for the morning assembly, which was long and seemed boring (now even that boring assembly seems dear to you). Anyhow we tried to skip it. This year in school was different. My friend Arvind Kothari was the Vice head boy of the school. One of his duties was to go into each classroom and ask the monitor to take the students to the assembly and also checking no one remains behind in the classes. This meant he must skip assembly so that he can make sure nobody stays back. I being a close friend always helped him and this was the duty anyone would like to share. Although I was nowhere in the school parliament that year but I accompanied him in his morning duty and every other duty that needed an absence from the class.
Arvind was (still is) an influential figure in the school. Never went an year when he didn’t top the class and no body, not even the principal questioned his supremacy. Everyone was sure that he will do something big and so he did. Presently in IIT-K he is in final year of his M.Tech (Integrated) and has done numerous activities, some of which I am aware and some of not, in the IIT. So, he was my best pal in the school. Apart from being a brainy he had a lighter side to too. He was always good at playing pranks and what we call in Hindi Mazze lene me he was brilliant (But he was never good at the receiving end of the pranks and still isn’t. Although he may not admit this and go on disagreeing).
So it was assembly time and we stayed back as usual. We were waiting for Gauraw Paliwal. He was the third one, completed the trio. He had came an year or so ago from the town of Kharguan. He is the kind of a person who never thinks a thing bad. He is absolutely guilelable. There is no vice at all in him, any one can come and take undue advantage of him. He is like a hermit, and followed the three principles of Gandhi (I don’t think they need a mention here). And surprisingly his birthday is on december 25th. He used to come late as he stayed at Gitabahvan which was far from the school.
That morning Arvind and me were sitting in the class as he entered. He had an interesting incident to tell from the last night. It was about Ankur Mathur. Ankur mathur another figure in the class. I am sure most of the classmates wouldn’t even noticed his existence (except girls). He was very varying in his character. You can call him wishy-washy. He was found of girls, all boys are, but his was a different case. All the time he used to roam around the girls wagging his tail. Girls were clever they knew he would do whatever they ask for. So, they used him as a servant. He used to bring them the reagents in chemistry lab, used to perform experiments in physics lab and sometimes even carry their bags. He was also in Biology stream and so was Gauraw.
So, last night he came to Gauraw’s house, he lived near by, to give Gauraw something. Ankur was not coming to school the next day and it was birthday of a classmate (a girl), whom Ankur wanted to give a gift. Let’s call her Rewa (changed name). Ankur was not coming because he had to go somewhere with his father. He considered Rewa a good friend, although the case was not same with her. She was a girl in section A of class and was also in biology stream. She was what I think, a bit conservative and most girls are, especially in school. Ankur came up to Gauraw and gave him a small box wrapped in beautiful pink and purple gift paper to give it Rewa. As I have written earlier Gauraw was a noble soul. He never saw any wrong in anything. Without thinking he agreed to do the job. He talked rarely to girls and that also was limited to studies. On asking, whether she knows about Ankur sending a gift for her, Ankur had told Gauraw that he has talked to Rewa about the gift and there will be no problem. In morning when the whole school was out for assembly the three of us were sitting and discussing what to do with the gift.
As soon as the assembly finished the students started coming back. Rewa also came she was happy as it was her birthday. Everyone was greeting her and then went Gauraw. Smelling some goof up me and Arvind were standing right there to see how he does it.
“Happy birthday Rewa” he said. “Oh thank you” she replied smiling. “Oh I have the gift with me” said Gauraw “Which gift?” asked Rewa with astonishment.
“The one that Ankur sent” Gauraw explained. “Didn’t he tell you about it?” he was also puzzled. “No please Gauraw, I am not interested in this.” She was agitated. She was angry and went away without listening to a word.
Arvind and I burst into laughter as Gauraw was misunderstood. He was baffled and was not expecting to be misunderstood to this extent. He was confused. “I knew something of this sort will happen” I said. “Oh thank you then why didn’t you tell me in the first place” Gauraw asked angrily “We would’ve missed the fun” I said with unsuccessful attempts to conceal my laugh. “You don’t have any brains? Why did you accept to do it?” asked Arvind. “I thought he and Rewa were good friends and she would have no problems” Gauraw clarified. “Firstly, if that was the case why didn’t you tell her that it is from Ankur” I inquired “You were there, you think she gave me time for that?” Gauraw retaliated “OK but don’t you know Ankur’s reputation among girls and what girls think of him. How on earth did you think that they were good friends” Arvind added. “I wonder what’s in that box.” I showed my curiosity. “Don’t even think of opening that box” said Gauraw snatching the box from my hands. He knew my intentions
“OK now what to do with the gift?” I asked. There was a mischief playing around in my mind. “What? Give it back to mathur” suggested Arvind. “OK, else we can just take it and keep it in Rewa’s bag. I mean why bother it is her’s and Ankur’s matter. He asked Gauraw to give the gift and she refused, we can just put it there and when she will see it she will know that Ankur, not Gauraw has sent it.” I tried to put my point. “I mean if we don’t give her the gift she will be in a wrong impression that Gauraw was maroing chance on her.” I reinforced myself. It took Gauraw sometime to decide but Arvind agreed readily. He smelled the same scent that I smelled.
So it was final that we were going to keep that cursed packet in her bag as soon as we get a chance. She was in section A and we were in section B, so neither of us had slightest idea of her bag. But we had contacts. Amit and Akshat, the inseparables. When ever you see one of them be sure the other one is going to be around, never was a time that they went different ways. These days they were accompanied by Arvind’s cousin Akhilesh who had joined the school the same year. We had a great rapport with them, so I explained the situation and asked them to just signal which bag is hers, when the right time comes.
The most important thing was that we had to figure out the right time when she was not around. As the assembly had just ended, chaos ruled the school. Juniors stormed the corridors shouting, seniors stood outside the classes some talking with their friends others checking out the girls. This was the right time; Rewa was out with her friends. We entered the class, Amit signaled us where her bag was kept and before anyone could see I slide the gift inside her bag. Our job was done, Gauraw was happy that the box was gone. We came back and school went on as always.
Now as Gauraw was in Biology (and so was Rewa), he had to go to other classroom to attend Bio classes and we stayed back for math classes. Immediately after the class we had lunch. So, at lunch Gauraw came looking very depressed, sad and puzzled. “What happened” I asked. He looked up to me with an angry glare and then took out his lunch box. “c’mon tell us…” Arvind tried to share his grief “….who else will you tell” he said. “This, this rascal, scoundrel Rohan, all because of him” Gauraw shouted. I somewhat understood what had happened. But this was a direct attack on me “What? What have I done? Tell me” I retaliated with fury. “One thing is sure from now on I will never subscribe to his slippery schemes. You know what happened?” Now he was addressing Arvind “When I reached the lab (Biology lab, for classes) Modi madam (The Bio Teacher) was sitting there with the gift on the table, immediately I knew it was my biggest mistake to agree to his scheme” He said pointing at me. “She asked me what is this Gauraw? We thought you were a sincere student and came here to study. Did you come to school to do this? You have disappointed us. When she refused to take it you kept it in her bag! How shameless you are? My god.. And Blah blah… I even said that it was sent by Ankur…” He stopped in between and shook his head looking down at the ground “What happened then?” I asked as I was gaining more and more interest in the incident as it neared the climax. Gauraw looked angrily at me “What do you expect?” he was furious “She said if it was from Ankur then why did you put it in her bag? You should’ve kept it and given it back to Ankur. Now I had no answers to this….” He was devastated as his reputation was the biggest thing for him. He was rebuked in front of the whole batch. “But you told us that this has to reach Rewa. And that is what I did.” I clarified my position. “I never said that” Gauraw went ballistic. Arvind was bursting into laughter and I couldn’t control it for long. It were 10 sec or so and Gauraw was into it too. “You know Modi Madam didn’t talk to me for the whole session” Gauraw said with a innocence of a child who comes complaining about his friends. “Don’t worry she will soon forget” I assured Gauraw. “We will clarify the whole thing with Rewa and ask her to tell this to Modi madam, she knows that it was from Mathur.” Suggested Arvind. And the same happened we had to make the situation clear to Rewa and then to Modi madam but in the end the matter was resolved.
And now whenever the three of us meet this is one incident nobody misses to mention