Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Joe and his Independence Day celebration

This is a thought of one of my independence day celebration while I was in my eighth. On every August fifteenth fluttering tricolor flags fills India. Most homes gatheres before the television, watching the live telecast of the Independence day parade held in Delhi. But for the past few years, everything changed. Since cable TV became common, most Indias preferred to watch some programs, which seemed better than the ID parade. Intentionally or not, many even forget about the ID parade or even Indian flag or even Independence Day.

Alappuzha village is also affected by the TV Channels. But I was thrilled. I was in my eighth standard. My village, Thathampally is in Alappuzha district. Which once was a big business place. As often that year also there is Independence Day celebration in recreation ground in Alappuzha. Even though I am a scout from the past two years, only in that year I got selection in the Parade group. That was my first chance to salute the Indian flag. I came to my school in previous day evening. It was the order that everyone should come to school before six O' clock. I felt uneasy in the silence in his Sanathana Dharma School. I had never seen my school like that. The leader of the scout asked everybody to keep silence and started to give some lecture in which I had no interest. Everybody was asked to sleep in the staff room.

I laid there but I felt impossible to sleep in that room. When I closed my eyes figure of the mathematics teacher of the seventh standard comes to my mind. While comparing with the right leg his left leg is a little fat. May be this is the reason students call him Unnimanthan which may have a literal meaning the filarial man. He carries a big stick that will reach his hip if the other end touches the ground. Even though I was in the eighth I was still afraid of Unnimanthan . I was an expert to hide behind the big pillars keeping my breath till he gets inside the staff room.

I fell asleep with the thoughts of Unnimanthan in my mind. In his sleep I started dreaming. In my dream another teacher came, whom the entire school was afraid of. A six something tall man with red lips out of chewing tobacco. His gray hair shined with coconut oil. Hair on his broad eyebrows had no order. His silk jubba and KasavuMundu brooked no wrinkles. Chicken pox marks on his face made him look more dangerous. A big line made with sandal paste in his forehead and in the center of the line there is a red mark made with Kunkumam, which will twinkle with the red lips. When he speak, it will make us remember about the sound when chiratta(the shell of coconut) is grind against a rock. It felt, as even Headmaster of our school was afraid of him. Maybe because of the knowledge this Malayalam teacher Bhaskaran pillai had in all the subjects is the reason for it.

Bhaskaran Pillai looked at me while standing in the assembly and shouted "JOMONEEEE…". I with sweating forehead and shivering legs opened my eyes

“Joe….” I heard it again but this time the sound is not so hard. I did not understand anything. I looked around.

"Getup and take your bath " It is his friend Raghavan. But still unaware of what is happening I looked around

"Joe are you not coming ". Now I understood about what is happening. I took the soap and ran to the tap. After the bath I wore my scout uniform and looked at myself in the mirror in the staff room. In the big mirror I made himself as a soldier. Everybody got in to the bus. I was going to recreation ground for the first time. The bus started to the Recreation ground, which is near the beach. We all reached the ground. I stopped for a moment seeing a giant building.
"What is that? " I asked.

"It is the Lighthouse, " said one of the senior members of the team. I, who have heard about the Lighthouse, didn’t need any more explanation about the huge white building.

"It looks like the Rook of the chess, isn’t it?" I asked to Raghavan.

"Yes" answered Raghavn who had never heard about the chess game.

"Come on, " said Raghavan.

"Can’t you hear the music of the bugle that means the parade is going to be started," said the leader. The chief gust has come. He hosted the flag. He was horned by the parade salute. But all these time my mind was on the Lighthouse which make us remember about the lost glory of the business town that was Alappuzha. In the parade I and my friends had to satisfy with the second prize. But I didn’t feel unhappy in it.

I was happy on the chance that I got to salute the flag. While they were returning the big Rook seemed to be becoming smaller. I kept on looking at it expecting to see it next time.

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