The Inimitable Mr. S

When at school we had fantastic teachers. One such teacher was Mr. S, an Anglo-Indian who looked every inch a Brit. He handled Mathematics in classes X, XI and XII and how! He had an awesome sense of humour and made learning Mathematics a fun experience. We always waited for the Maths period.

Never one to get angry he instilled discipline with jest. Let me narrate three examples:

The Class Hen
There was this guy in class who always went chatter … chatter … chatter. Mr. S noticed this and said, “I say Mister Shyam, you seem to be very excited man. Are you going to lay eggs? I have only known hens getting excited before they lay eggs. Yes?”. All of us burst into peals of laughter.

The Young Chap
There was this very short boy in class and he looked a wee bit young for his age. Mr. S called him ‘young chap’. Once ‘young chap’ was very distracted in class and started disturbing his neighbours. Mr. S noticed this. He rolled up his long notebook like a scroll and stood in front of ‘young chap’ with scroll in hand. He then struck a Kapil Dev-like pose and almost struck ‘young chap’ with the scroll like a cricketer strikes a bat with a ball and said, “Young chap shall I hit you for a six?”. Mr. S looked so funny in his cricketer-like avatar and ‘young chap’s’ expression of total bewilderment was so priceless that the rest of the class roared with laughter.

The Loo Episode
A month before Sports Day we had march-past practice. Not all of us made it to the final day. If anyone of us marched sloppily he or she would get thrown out. I belonged to this brigade of clumsy legs. Getting thrown out was a painful process. The Prefect would yell out our name and say “Leave” in a very authoritative tone. In my last year at school I thought I would skip this hateful procedure altogether and took refuge under a desk in our empty classroom. I had to hide because it was mandatory that every one of us take part in the march-past till of course we got eliminated. For company I had Miss G aka Boy George, the class tomboy and the most mischievous girl in our class. Unfortunately someone spotted us in our hideout and reported the matter to Mr. S who also happened to be our Headmaster.

Mr. S let out a shout as he approached our classroom, “Ladies hiding in the classroom leave at once and go join march-past practice”. This made me awfully nervous and I decided to go to the playground after rendering an apology to Mr. S. Never one to give in so easily Miss G had other ideas. She pulled me and said “Run”. Both of us ran like frightened animals along the long corridor. Mr. S noticed us running and gave us a hot chase with cane in hand. When we approached the ‘Ladies Toilet’ at the other end of the corridor, Miss G shoved me in and followed suit. She gestured me to move behind a wall in the loo. “Sssssh … he won’t enter here, don’t worry”, she said. How wrong she was! Just when we started thinking how long we would have to spend in the loo we heard footsteps. Mr. S found us out again. He stood at the toilet entrance and said, “Ladies, I know both of you are in there. Come out will you?“. Miss G started chuckling. Again I almost gave in and thought of leaving for the playground. Miss G would have none of it. She said, “Quiet”. Mr. S would have stood outside the toilet for well over 10 minutes before he finally decided to leave. Later he would say to me, “My girl I never expected this from you“. Miss G who was known for her mischief was never questioned. Thanks to the kind-heartedness of Mr. S we were let off very easily I should say. Any other master would have sent us to the cleaners.

Not wanting another ‘loo episode’, the next day both of us were on the field joining the others at the march-past practice but not for long. I missed seeing a pothole and tripped and was sent to the bench only to be greeted by Miss G who was asked to leave after she inadvertently stamped someone’s foot. She flashed her pearls at me and gave me a big hug in a grand gesture of mutual admiration.

Mr. S and Miss G were among those who made my school life so colourful and memorable.

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