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When paper planes had wings

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Fridays were a thing of peculiar curiosity for the boys at the St. Aidan Elementary School. It was a day of brewing ecstasy that spent itself in the expression of fatuous niceties , the likes of which would disappear as soon as the bleak Monday reared its dreadful head. A hint of a smile would be flashed at one’s sworn enemy. A miser might find himself generous with regard to the lending of the contents of his stationary box. (Of course, one couldn’t count on the prized eraser that his uncle had brought from Bangalore to be involved in such transactions.)

The very nature of Friday was one that heralded a certain inexplicable joy. It was a day in which one revelled in the comfort that the foreseeable future was in good shape; that the day would lend itself unto the weekend and all evil would suspend itself into the luxurious caresses of that Golden Age that was to ensue. It was a time that trembled with immense possibility, one that would surely bring such treasures as one had never known before!

The bus ride home was deeply treasured on such unfettered afternoons. The very air seemed to sing in the voice of a newfound liberty that had arrived after much anticipation. Snacks were traded and paper planes were fashioned from the back of EVS notebooks. A game of rivalry with the boys on the other bus was conducted. After all, wasn’t their bus faster because Manoj bhaiya was the more competent driver?

The older boys stationed in the backseat were more inclusive on Fridays. The younger ones would huddle around them, vying for their attention with gallant displays of courage and adulation for the former’s feats. Some of the younger ones might be selected to sit in the back. Oh, how glorious indeed were Friday afternoons!

The older boys would get off at the bus stop and make their way to the nearest chai tapri , and amidst men who sit on their haunches and sip the beverage, they would select their preferred choice of kurkure that hangs in a vertical awning from the roof of the stall. The younger ones, with longing stares, would wait in anticipation as their heroes cross the road full of speeding impediments. Their loyalty and patience was often rewarded with a few chips, as they were herded home by the older ones, orange stains smeared all over their lips. They were reunited in the shared compound of their apartment buildings, when tiffins and bottles had been put in the sink, and half-hearted promises to return home within an hour were proclaimed to their parents. Then, still in uniform ( perhaps they had done away with the school belt) the evening games commenced.

Yet, somehow the security of the weekend seemed to be far more enjoyable than its actual existence. While it was peppered with cricket in the sun and afternoon siestas, there was the slow acknowledgment of its waning glory by the eventide on Saturday– an understanding that accompanies a wise man in his middle age. The mortality of such a revered duo begins to sink in by nightfall , albeit pushed away to the recesses of one’s mind.

Sunday morning presents itself with a multitude of opportunities , as the warm sun sheds light on ground that has never seemed more beautiful. Cricket bats strike, lunches are eaten in the shade of trees with comrades, and naps are taken. But those naps are no longer as peaceful as those of the day before, and a slight itch begins to set in one’s body. It is an imperceptible agitation that oscillates and thus strikes periodically. A world of mangoes and possibility is overridden by one of fractions and complicated sentences. Slowly one realises that one has forgotten one’s Hindi copy in the classroom, and that perhaps while one was talking to Amit, ma’am had assigned some arithmetic homework. Of course, the vestiges of that conversation are deeply cherished as one attempts to recall what was said. Paper planes modelled from valuable notebooks are regretted as the thought of their teacher discovering the remnants, that the spine of the book revealed, surface. As evening approaches and the orange glow of the sun beautifies the vast landscape, some slip to the terrace for a last glimpse of such beauty. As one gradually acknowledges the exam that one’s teacher had gratuitously scheduled for the following day, and one’s stomach begins to twist into little knots at the thought of polishing one’s shoes, the Halcyon days, of which Friday and Saturday were members, are remembered with fond nostalgia.

Indeed the very nature of Friday was one that heralded a certain joy! Never again would a Friday be taken for granted. Next time around surely all the homework would be completed on Friday evening or perhaps Saturday morning, but under no circumstances would it be pushed beyond Saturday night. This solemn vow is digested with vehement determination. As one retires to one’s bedroom, with a half guilty heart ( half pacified by this deep vow) the scent of steaming daal and piping hot rice is enough to lick one’s wounds. After all, a Sunday dinner would not be relished for another week.

The most dreary ritual of all, although perfunctory, is the packing of the school bag post-dinner. It seems that all of the agony that Sunday has built is concentrated on this one onerous task. Why couldn’t the school provide for cubby lockers? Were they that poor? No, they were rolling in money but of course, nothing better could be expected of the misers. After all, weren’t they looting all the parents of this town with their extraordinarily high fees?

The realisation that pencils have been lent and never been restored, or stowed away in far corners that one couldn’t quite recall only begins to descend during this swan song. Why could they not permit them to write in pens? What did it mean to curtail them by taking such tyrannical measures? After all , they wrote in glitter pens and even gel pens at home. It was a foolish decision. Maybe Rohan had taken the apsara pencil. Wasn’t he the one who needed it during the art period? Surely he would bring it tomorrow. These things were better taken up in the morning anyway. The pencil box would be given back its contents on the bus the following day. Otherwise Rohan would have to pay!

Can you relate?

  • yes definitely!

  • ummm kinda...

  • not really :(

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