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The parades seemed absurd ! I hated hearing them, hated seeing them , hated being made to take part in them hated being tied in traffic in them. But the seven years in Sainik School were the best years of my life.




Childhood
The earliest recollection of my childhood is the faint memory of a huge Banyan tree that sheltered my ancestral home; and that eventful morning when it fell over the altar of the serpent deity. The village woke up, and assembled at the grove. The previous night's rain still dripping form the dying leaves shimmered against the fresh rays of the rising sun .The village astrologer said it was the curse of Gods. My grandmother thought it was bad omen. Learned people blamed the cyclone from Arabian Sea. Only I knew why it happened: For I was the one who secretly climbed the forbidden tree that sheltered the serpent god

My first years were spent at our ancestral home, with parents and grand parents. At the age of five I joined Jyothi Nilayam, where in due course, I fell in love with a pink, plump, sluggish girl, who read spider man comics at lunch. She was as crazy about spider man as she was about mathematics. She was a math genius who could never count to hundred without getting into trouble.

Five years later, I joined Sainik School: a world entirely new to me. I loved everything at school except the parades. I wanted nothing to do with parades, still I had to take them as seriously as Major Gumman did. I went to bed each night with sweet dreams about them. Woke up each morning, day-dreaming about them. Every day we fell out for the drills and maneuvered into ranks of three outside the sleepy dormitories. Groaning with hangovers we limped in step to our position at the main parade ground, where we stood motionless in the heat for an hour or two until enough of us had collapsed to call it a day. On the edge of the ground stood a row of ambulances and teams of trained stretcher-bearers with walkie-talkies. On the roof of the ambulances were spotters with binoculars. A tally clerk kept score. Supervising the entire operation was an army officer; a medical officer okayed pulses and checked the figures of the tally clerk. As soon as enough unconscious cadets had been collected in the ambulances the medical officer signaled the band master to strike up the band and end the parade. One behind the other the squadron marched up the field, executed a cumbersome 'about turn' and marched down the field to their dormitories. The parades seemed absurd ! I hated hearing them, hated being made to take part in them. hated seeing them , hated being tied in traffic in them. But the seven years in Sainik School were the best years of my life.






Last Updated: December 11, 1998