“DID SHE GET SCARED…………”
To my immense surprise, it turned out to be my old pals from school.
We were in the tenth standard then. The tough taskmaster Mr. darkins was still the principal. It was a Saturday. And it all began with a pig. We had gone to check out the new girl in school in the girl’s hostel .But as fate would have it,instead of seeing any girl, we inadvertently came across the matron Mrs. Lama.
Mrs. Lama hated boys like us and threatened to let loose her pet pig on us if we were to be seen again. Rumour had it that her pig had strong carnivorous instincts and hence we bade a hasty retreat.
After dinner we gathered in our room for our traditional Saturday night dialogue. Even a nonchalant observer of our lives would surely agree that these dialogues normally culminated into something so fanatical a venture that its repercussions would leave us busy for the rest of the week. But learning lessons from the past was not something we indulged in and hence begun the brainstorming session on what crazy thing we could accomplish that evening to uphold our reputations as the chief entertainers in school. Sri was the first one to speak.
“Not a good day, was it?”
“Nope! Scary rather.” quipped Manu.
“Yeah, especially when the matron threatened to let loose her pet pig on us!”
Being the head mischief-monger, his were the ideas which normally brought the much needed vigour in our dreary lives. His silence unsettled me. It was a familiar silence. The one which came before the most confounded of his plans. We all stared at him with mixed feelings. While Sri and Manu’s eyes betrayed their eager anticipation mine were filled with the dread of impending doom.
”I hate pigs. Dead or alive. How dare the matron threaten us with her pig! I say we hit back. Lets teach her a lesson she will not forget the rest of her life. Let’s give her a shock which will haunt her for the rest of her measly life.”
I was quiet. Everyone turned towards me. Their intense stare was too much to bear. As usual I gave in.”Ok! Do not look at me like that. I am in. One of these days I am really going to regret being with you guys. So what’s the plan?”
“That’s my boy”, retorted Manu,” I knew you could not ditch your good friends.”
You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese, the Swiss hold the America's Cup, France is accusing the U.S. of arrogance, Germany doesn't want to go to war, and the three most powerful men in America are named 'Bush', 'Dick', and 'Colon'. But no amount of craziness in the world could justify
Anyway, let’s cut to the chase. Instead of explaining his “plan” I would prefer to describe the way we got about implementing it. It will surely make the narrative more interesting.
The basic goal was to scare the wits out of Mrs. Lama. I wasn’t sure whether she would get scared, but I surely was. This idea had all the ingredients for a complete disaster. Visions of week long detention at the principles office flashed before my eyes.
In view of the fact that Mrs. Lama hated dogs to death and anything ghostly terrified her, it seemed a good plan. But considering the fact that most of our well thought out plans resulted in an uncomfortable question answer session in Mr. Darkin’s office, I was pretty apprehensive about this one too. All of you will agree that it was one atrocious plan.
” Do not worry dude! Nothing can possibly go wrong this time. We will be perfectly camouflaged and it will be smooth sailing all the way. Trust me. You are safe in our hands.”
Safe. This was probably some strange usage of the word safe I wasn’t earlier aware of.
Our white bed sheets which were going to play the double role of being our camouflage along with creating the illusions of spirits perched on a tree branch were ready. So were the candles. With all the props at hand, all we needed to do was get into our positions. Climbing the tree was not a simple task for me for the simple fact that I had never climbed a tree before. Friendship makes you do strange things. I tried asking myself what I was trying to accomplish by trying to climb a banyan tree wrapped in a bed sheet among swarms of killer mosquitoes when I should have been in bed reading Wodehouse. Ironically, I was in a Bertie Wooster-esque situation myself. Woodhouse would have rubbed his hands in glee considering the infinite possibilities this situation offered.
“Dude, practice your wail a bit. You have to sound like a witch.”
I told him that as I had not been lucky enough to meet a witch or come across her wail, I didn’t know how it sounded like.
I thanked him for the suggestion and proceeded with the imitation. What came out was something significantly different. Something akin to the pressure cooker whistle. Sri shouted from below,” Is everything alright? Anyone sick up there?”
Suddenly, we saw a torch shine among the bushes. It was Manu’s signal. He must have heard footsteps. The moment I had been dreading had arrived. We were waiting for Mrs. Lama to turn round the corner before we begun our act.
” did da Vinci really paint the last supper?”
“If no, who did?”
I would have loved to know the reason of his unexpected appearance but that was the least of my problems. You see, the realization had come a tad too late.
“Good evening, sir”.
Even today I wonder what made me say something like that. But perhaps that was the best reply anyone could come up with in such circumstances. Back to the story.Mr. Darkins too seemed slightly taken aback. He asked,” sayan, is that you? What are you doing up a tree at his time of the night. And why on earth do you have a bed sheet around you”?And on seeing
My wail was supposed to be the cue for Sri to begin his canine role. It was obvious he hadn’t heard the ensuing conversation and hence had gone on to play his part. It turned out to be one of his best efforts till date. He sounded exactly like an angry Alsatian.But by this time Mr. Darkins was absolutely sure that something was wrong. He stepped towards the bushes to find the source of the cacophony. But before he could discover Sri hunched behind the foliage, something so appalling happened that his attention got diverted. A new drama was unfolding. And we and
There we lay, in a heap, among the bushes, like a small human pyramid. The last thing I remembered before passing out was sri asking,”did she get scared……….”.
Two weeks in the hospital and an unpleasant afternoon in the principal’s office giving explanations was what followed the aforesaid events. Fellow students had a great time
debating what actually we were attempting to do. Colourful theories were propounded. Unfortunately our bones did not allow us to be a part of the discussion and it was some time before everyone knew the truth. And boy, was it embarrassing!