Monday, May 7, 2007

Britto Bosco and Berchman

"Ammae my house the Britto’s have won the overall sports championship at school today" shouted my ecstatic brother as he threw his bag on to the sofa.

That was the first time I heard of Britto’s. My brother must have been in 3rd standard and yours truly in the 1st. The information sounded a bit foggy to me. Moreover I was in the "Who? What? Why?" stage of my developmental age so I barged in and asked Amma "what is Britto’s Ammae?". But big brother wanted to finish his story first. So he gave me the "round eye treatment" and hogged the rest of the conversation.

He raved about his house captain who ran so fast for the 100 mts race that there was a dust cloud behind him and the other contestants were blinded! By now I had quite a lot of "what’s " accumulated. What is a house? What is Britto’s? What is 100 meters? . But having got the round eye treatment once, I decided, very wisely, to wait for him to finish.

In between mouthfuls of some tea-time goody he explained in fine detail the main events of the day. I was left in awe of the all conquering Britto’s by the end of it. "Ammae, can I also become a Britto?" I asked. "No monae, you need to be in 3rd standard for that". oooh third standard! But third standard is so long away! I was sorely disappointed. The injustices of being a child were becoming too much to bear these days. I just wanted to grow up fast and be in third standard ASAP. That’s where all the action was.

The years passed in quick succession and in no time I was at the threshold of becoming a big man. "kettikaraya kuttiyayi!"(You are of marry-able age!) exclaimed my mother as she put the buckle on my knickers and upped the zip. I was going to third standard now. My classes would be in a new building where all the older boys studied. I looked into the mirror on our Godrej almirah and felt proud of being as big as I was.

By this time, Britto's house had raked in one more sports championship. "In the past 8(?) years, nobody has beaten Britto's" claimed my brother. To the post Harry Porter reader Britto’s would definitely be Gryffindor. Even in my mellow age, I had enough common sense to pick out the winner. I am going to be a Britto I decided. But how do I become one? I raised this crucial q to my big bro. "you don't even know that!" exclaimed my big bro with a condescending expression. I didn’t like the expression one bit. But being very diplomatic, I decided to get that extremely important piece of information through the higher-up route. "Ammae, Antony is making fun of me" I wailed. Big bro is also diplomatic. After all, diplomacy runs in the family. He grudgingly gave up that highly guarded secret and settled an issue that could have snowballed into World war III. I thanked my stars for having such a reasonable brother.

The process it seemed was pretty simple. It was all based on a tie. The color of the tie you got while buying books for third standard decided your fate! Thus the reader would thoroughly understand my disappointment when the teacher gave me an orange tie instead of green. I might be of tender age, but I was also an Indian to boot. I knew that there would definitely be a way around the system. Ah! I will ask for a replacement tie, I decided. But the queue was a kilometer long and Amma flatly refused to stand again. The Supreme Court had overruled my petition!!! I was down but definitely not out. There had to be some other way I thought and Eureka!!! My brother had sketch pens, if I could paint green color over the tie then that should do the trick. Congratulating myself, I decided to reach home and get things rolling.

Along with this generous gift of grey matter that the reader would have noticed by now, I was also gifted with a lot of procrastination and a little bit of "yellow" blood by the Guy up there. In short, I could not gather the guts to pull off the crime. In the end I decided that when the teacher asked me in class what house you belong to, I would say Britto's. Very few plans are fool proof, even fewer will hold under treachery. Mine failed because of both I guess. The guy next to me smugly pointed out the tie conspiracy to my teacher when I shouted out "Britto". I had forgotten that the tie was very much around my neck at that time. Anyways, I managed to talk out of that one. Made it look like a discrepancy rather than a conspiracy. A narrow escape!

This is the story of how I became a Bosco instead of a Britto.

But lady luck had not deserted me all together. The Bosco house won three times in a row right after I joined it. I may not have run, I may not have jumped, but I did cheer my team like there was no tomorrow and because of all my cheering our house just couldn’t get a step wrong. I was in the sixth and a mature man who could take a defeat gracefully by the time we first slunk to second. I had a period of immaturity in seventh and eight standards when we won again.

In the 9th I decided to act more mature. And what's more, I even joined in the sporting events. I participated in two events and finished second last in both cases. But then, since I was mature and since I had heard that participation is more important than winning, I took the blows very casually. Taking a cue from me my house also finished second last.

10th as is well known to any kid who has studied in Kerala, is a draconian year with pressure from all sides. Studies take up paramount importance, so who cared that we lost again. After all it was the marks that counted that year!

All said and done, I am very happy that I was not put into Berchman. They were third 7 out of 8 times!

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