But not in school. Schools didn’t just have guidelines; they had a new and stronger version of the same phrase. Restrictions. That word in itself has an ominous touch. I never fancied the idea of restrictions. It was hard to grasp them anyway. Why? Because most of them were unsaid.
School demanded discipline. Discipline demanded no fun activities. You will have fun, obviously. It’s not as if they are “just mundane and boring all the time” (words of one of my teachers). But fun is for a specific period. The given window of thirty to forty minutes. We were there to learn after all. And I learned that unsaid restrictions require severe obedience. Follow the rules, even if you don’t know them. Use common sense.
Common sense isn’t that simple, I learned that the hard way. If you want to sit around in the class when no one is there and have a round of card game with WWE playing cards (the trend of that age), then you are breaking a rule. The entire class – in fact, two-third of the school – was out on a forced rehearsal of a parade for the Republic Day. I wasn’t because they scolded me a couple of times for keeping my feet at an angle when I marched. I added that with a bit of a leg ache and I was out from the parade before the third beat of the drum. So I decided to spend my time alone in the class, with a few more students, who were also not in the marching group for the teachers considered them as problem children. (As I remember, some teachers had even scolded me for even talking to those boys.) Anyway, we were still breaking some rules, while passing our free time in the class. Which one? I had no clue and I didn’t have the chance to ask.
The rules we knew in school were keeping quiet, not disturbing anyone, not destroy property, no violence and some more of the similar accord. The teacher who had caught us “red-handed” had already slapped my fellow “culprits” before I could ask anyone anything. Even though, he had spared me, the sound of the slap ran a quick sensation of fear through my body. My incoherent mumbling in response to his query regarding the ownership of the cards wasn’t helpful either. I’m still glad, though, that I didn’t tell him who owned those cards. It was a friend, but the poor chap would have received a good amount of discipline if his name had come up. That boy didn’t have good record with the teacher, a black sheep, no doubt. But all the same, I felt responsible to save his ass because he was out in that stupid parade rehearsal and I was having a good time with those cards. His cards.
So, I lied.
I never considered it being irresponsible, doing all that stuff in school. I hated school. No euphemism can barge into that sentence. Hate is a strong word, but my feelings towards schools are strong. Why? Maybe it was the idea of discipline. The rules. The guidelines. The manners. The sophistication. I’m not very chaotic, but I abhor the idea of punishment for having harmless, childish fun. So, even though, I was the punctual, ever-nice, teacher’s pet, schools taught me that irresponsibility and breaking the rules is a very nice way of having fun. No matter how mundane your activity is, if it’s against the rules—whatever they are—it inevitably becomes better.
PS: If you had even a small moment of laughter while reading this you can also check out the previous words I had spewed regarding my childhood and where I had learned the value of responsibilities. Not for long, though, it would seem.