Somebody forwarded the following jpg in Gujarati tonight. It was fun reading through, but so did come along mixed emotions. I don’t know what the basic schooling reminds to you or not, but my early days at the Baherampura Hindi Prathmik Shala run by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (mid 70s-1981) came back calling to my mind. It was, like most SARKAARI schools, a wholesale picnic spot for those enrolled to be part of it. My parents were teachers, so they did not deem it necessary to send me to far flung places. There weren’t many Hindi schools in those days either. They preferred teaching me at home, while overlooking the nature of place I’d been enrolled to.
It was also the era of Sholay, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendar and Gabbar Singh. My class would get divided into small groups (gangs rather) and reenact all famous blockbusters of that time, hurling cries of “Are O Sambha”, “Kitne Aadmi The” and “Tera Kya Hoga Kaliya” loud in the air. MASTERJI (rather PANDITJI, as we kids called our class-teacher) would disappear soon after taking the roll call. I had my own small gang set up, which would slip out to play cricket at a pre-chosen venue. It was total entertainment for all us kids, until we got thrown out due to aging. It came at a huge price, though. Very few could read and write properly by the time they enrolled into high schools. Only a few could go beyond high schooling. Most came from poor households, so they did not have any desire or means to study anyway. I had my teachers back home, who compelled me to carry on until I had post graduated. My elder brothers, also a product of the same junk PATHSHALAA, went on to complete their PhDs.
Following lines made me somewhat emotional in this backdrop tonight. Emotional since they brought back the nostalgia of my childhood, and also because they reminded me of the stark realities of having India’s haves and have nots to my mind, this despite so many years after Independence.