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Kashi and the Right hand crest- By Pradeep Mohan

A Story by Pradeep Mohan in FaceBook

Kashi and the Right hand crest

Brother Mulligan was a kind man and his gentleness and compassion we could see in his soft eyes and the way he walked and the way he talked and in his reluctance to punish and be severe or shame and humiliate. There was not the sharp edge we saw in Brother Callaghan, or the depravity and paranoia that we suspected in some of the other Irish teachers.
One day, Br. mulligan called Jeevan, the school peon, to his office.
How old is Kashi, now?
He just turned seven, Saar. He is going to the government school. But it is too far and he is not learning much.
Theek Hai. Usko ham padayang gey.
Its ok. We will teach him here.
Jeevan was ecstatic. He had served the young spoiled baba log brats of the Simla elite for years, he had watched them play cricket, he had been awed by their navy blue blazers, their green striped ties, their air of privilege and entitlement, and most of all of their affected haw-haw accents.
Nirmala, his wife, was not so thrilled. She worked hard – washing dishes for the rich folk. She knew how cruel and mean and vindictive they could be. She knew that her little angel Kashi would stand out like a sore thumb. The ridicule and the abuse. Her little boy would have no chance.
She hugged Kashi with maternal protection, and kissed him on the forehead.
Mere laal ko yeh sajaa mat doh, she implored with a cry of fear and desperation. Please don’t punish my darling boy.
But all her neighbors and all her relatives and the strict memsahibs and the taciturn dads – they all convinced her that a fortune of gold and jewels had fallen into her lap.
Uski jindgi ban jayagi.
He will be set for life, they said and looked skywards in a pious manner..
So, on a bright Monday morning, little Kashi showed up at Edwards School. His face had been scrubbed clean and glowed, The mother had put black kohl in his eyes which had smeared from his tears when he had screamed and had a tantrum from his dread of going to this alien paathsala, His pants were wrinkled and hung loosely, and his white shirt was a shade of cream.
But what stood him apart. What amazed us that day. The one thing we whispered in secret. The one incongruity that shook our very core and our newly acquired sense of social order was this.
Little Kashi was wearing his school badge, that said “lumen squire” in shiny silver thread, on the right side of his blue blazer.
Nirmala had shown Nathu, the tailor, a photo from the school and he must have got confused. For he was not the stylish middle bazaar tailor, but a lowly kanlog darzi. And in the photo the negative had reversed the crest.
And yet, we were sons of an ancient culture, we had been raised on heroic myths of Ram and Arjun, we knew there was karma, we knew right from wrong – and that first day no one mentioned his inverted badge, or gave him a funny look, or sniggered at him. And at the end of the day he felt comfortable and relaxed and even made some new friends.
Pk was our class bully. He was aghast. Did you see that? The peon’s son has got his badge all wrong. And pk strode towards the awkward little new boy.
Pk, leave him alone. He is Jeevan’s son and it is his first day at school, I said blocking his way.
But pk just pulled my long hair and ran away with a silly high pitched guffawing cackle.
I dare you to stop me, he said with his usual Punjabi crude arrogance.
But I had a secret weapon. A sharp sword that would lacerate the bully. Ashok Talwar would always go along with me. He was even crazier than Rakesh Sharma. So together we confronted pk, and the coward that he was, he backed off.
Over time, Jeevan became more confident and began to fit in. He was proud of his father and was not reticent of his lowly status. But Jeevan had a haunted hunted look and would avoid being in the presence of his son, so as not to embarrass him.
Years later, I met Kashi in Shimla. He was working as an architect for the hp government at the us club.
Alas, Jeevan and Nirmala were no more, but their son had done them proud.

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Suresh Rao
9 months ago

Heart touching story. Crudely tailored Crest, straight or reversed, on shirt pocket gave Kashi, the desi boy, the courage to face school bullies at the Edwards School.

Ushasurya
9 months ago

Nice to see that there was a “Reverse ” of fortunes and Kashi made it big!!!!!

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