The Kochi SENTIpede goes on a nosEtalgic drip trip
When the three of us friends get together, shriek with laughter and each tries to get a word in while the other talks nineteen to the dozen; it all reminds me of those golden years not so long ago.
At fifteen, tongue in cheek, I had not a care in the world. My worldly possessions consisted of a pile of books, a pair of jeans and my very fertile imagination – I was in a boarding school for girls. We never saw much of men. Well that explains my title. But we untiringly discussed them and Masters and Johnson would definitely rewrite their best seller if they had to hear what we held forth on sex. All of us experts seemed to give our discourses so vehemently that the captive audience usually lapped it up with never so much as a murmur. The speaker would have merrily drawn her conclusions from a M&B devoured the previous night. To us girls, the Mills & Boon was the embodiment of all that stood for sex. The book of revelations was just one ninety - three pages in all, and always sealed with the most passionate of kisses, that was meant to last till eternity.
The old school, which housed us “The Waiting to Happen Girls” stood atop a wooded hill isolated from the world in every sense. Beyond the school’s derriere was the graveyard for the women in habit providing eerie tales of headless nuns that made us live perpetually in awesome fear. Traversing a lonely corridor at night was always at top speed and even then it was a heart in the mouth affair. At night the howling angry wind made the merry – go- round go around on its own. The cranking and creaking of the rusted old play thing provided perfect sound effects for horror movies and every night we snuggled deep under the blankets to shut out the imagined noises and voices of the ghoulish headless nuns floating past.
In the senior years bathing was at four in the morning and bathing rooms were far, far removed from the school building, only just a stone’s throw from the graveyard, so it was hair raising and bitingly chill, but thank god for small mercies – for bathing in school was a ceremony. We only bathed twice a week. But I guess the time allotted to each of us more than made up for the frequency. We were each allowed an hour of bathing time.
There was another ablution we did sparingly and euphemistically called ‘long’. Toilet paper was expensive, water was unheard of and purchase of toiletries was only once a month. Sometimes five sheets of tissue, the bare essentials, to do the needful was a matter of life and death.
On weekends weather always marked the course of our days. If it was sunny it meant long hours out in the sun, lying under the pine trees with the scent of warm grass in the air, lazily watching fattened jack worms crawl by. Or we just swirled round on roller skates in the skating rink all day long. If it rained we curled up on sofas with our legs tucked under us to read and listen to music.
Studying was passé. We did it all right to avoid the red lines in our report cards and to avoid sitting on the same chair in the same classroom for another year. Life was cool, the rod was spared and the school rules were bent covertly to suit our conveniences. But there was an unwritten code of ethics the girls themselves formulated, which were strictly adhered to. Two cardinal rules : Bragging and snitching were a strict no-no. Either hold your tongue or brag and snitch and be considered a geek, a weirdo: labels that would stick for life.
Two decades later I live in a world where ostentation is in, gaudy baubles are flaunted and everyone seems to be in a mad rush to accumulate useless material things to keep up with the neighbours. And bragging is an attitude. When I look around I sorely miss an old school on top of a wooded hill where schoolgirls under fifteen had their own unwritten set of rules.