Ha, just finished with the event for the year at the school the kids are going to. The Annual Concert, titled “Think Out Of The Box”. Now I can breathe easy till next December, hopefully. The whole thing was by the children of the school – the scripting, directing, organizing, designing, et al. A wonderful effort and major confidence booster. It’s just that when watching the plays that I got a little rattled. And let me not even go close to discussing the dresses, the songs they danced to, the dialogues in the skit and of course the costumes. Did I just time travel or is this the actual reality? I mean the kids were mouthing dialogues which even my college plays didn’t match in content. They were talking about boyfriend ditching, father cheating on mother, etc. So yes, I was a wee bit disturbed when I heard them. I fail to understand the rush the li’l girls are in to grow up. You have got your whole life for that. Enjoy your childhood and adolescence and allow us to enjoy having you around as kids. No wonder it’s called the jet age and I just don’t like travelling at this speed.
The long ride back home in the cab got me thinking about the many Annual Days (well that’s what it was called in our days) I had participated in my school days. School days were fun. Some of my close friends are from my school days. Life was rocking and oh, so simple. Annual days were school events – for the parents, by the school. No cleaning the bank accounts to pay for everything from the costumes to the venue or the snacks. Phew, it would’ve been cheaper to go on a small vacation! Parents would happily cramp up and settle down under the shamiana erected in the school playground. The stage would be made up of the school desks put together and tied up. Of course, we (I mean the school) later graduated to using the local tent walla to do the job, so we had one less job to do.
Preparations would start off a month in advance since we had to make the props and decorations. I remember in one of the school’s I had attended, the primary classes were tasked with making the multicolour streamers and ribbons, and the senior classes had to make the props. The artistically gifted children did the drawing and the lesser skilled ones filled them with colours. I don’t remember any themes or titles for our Annual Days. We did plays, which were shortened and rewritten to fit the time allotted. There was always one comedy and one thriller. The parents of the students participating in these plays would be sworn to secrecy not to reveal the story or the ending. The parents promised and we, in all our naivety, believed them. Those were the days! Alas, how I miss them.
The children with good English writing skills were roped in to do the script, with the help of the English teacher. Those were some really high standards to maintain, believe me when I tell you that. In my last school, we were taught English by the Principal and nothing would please her. And when she expressed her displeasure, well we needed a translator (I don’t think Shashi Tharoor is in any way related to her but I won’t be surprised if they are!). So, with such expectations, we worked and delivered.
And then there were the dances. No Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga or Bollywood numbers please. There was always a welcome song and dance, with girls dressed up in tradition dresses (mostly resembling the bharatnatyam costume). The rangolis had teams of children slogging over to create visual masterpieces. That was rivalry at its creative best! Then followed the remaining programs. They were mostly folk or tribal dances. The accompanying songs were normally folk songs, sung by the students. I remember one bhangra dance where the kids were dancing with so much gusto that the stage started shaking dangerously. The all-time favorite Goan dance would have a peppy number in Konkani language. We had even done the famous Cheraw dance, or more popularly known as the Bamboo dance, from Mizoram (I’m wondering if our kids know where this state is?). It was a herculean task managing the traditional costumes but we did it. It is still one of my most cherished memories. It was just a wonderful learning experience. No wonder we learnt so much about our country without even the internet or google!
At the end of the programs, the children waited with bated breath for the chief guest to make THE announcement, that it would be a holiday the next day. And the hall would break into a rapturous clapping and shouting as soon it was announced! It all looks so funny and silly now, but back then it was close to heaven. The camaraderie shared with the teachers on those days was so uncomplicated. No WhatsApp, no Instagram. Just them and us. No wonder they knew each one of us inside-out, much better than we did ourselves. They knew our strengths and how to use it for our own betterment. I remember once the complete responsibility of managing the backstage was given to a group of notorious boys from the senior classes. It was a big risk but our Principal (Father Francis, God bless him!) stuck to his decision. The results were totally unexpected. Not one item lost or misplaced, the programs progressed seamlessly with no chaos behind the scenes. Their organizing skills would put our present grossly-overpaid event managers to shame. I don’t know where those boys are now but I’m sure they are doing well with the lessons learnt then.
I know, I know I digressed but can’t help it. Every time I start off about my school days I just can’t seem to stop. So many memories, each jostling to gain a few extra seconds of my attention. I guess we each feel that way. But will our children also feel this way? I mean it’s all so disconnected and commercial now, will they feel this nostalgic years later? Their minds are so visually overloaded because of the myriad options, they will need to declutter their minds before they can preserve such gems for posterity. Either ways, at least now I don’t laugh or smirk when I hear someone older say “In my time….”