|Picture courtesy: My Colleague Tashi Namgay's facebook page|
Naughty, vibrant and full of mischief, I started my schooling some twenty five years ago. It was upon my father’s incessant persuasion that I finally agreed his idea of my education. Being illiterate man himself, it appeared to me that my father understood the value and importance of education lot more than any other person in our neighborhood. It was his humble wish, that I should someday become, well, not dasho but a teacher.
But unfortunately, I later discovered that schools weren't the bed of roses for mischief and over-zealous lad of my likes. The over sized headmaster with big and bulging eyes, who spoke of flowery things from his doma-reddened mouth on my admission day soon turned out to be the tyrant of my life. As the days progressed, to my astonishing youthful realization, I discovered that in school, teachers meant business.
They taught me things from the syllabus. Along with it came the box that swung from left to right. They kicked on my bony buttock, slapped on my rosy check and lashed my weak calf and fragile fleshy palm. Sometimes they quoted their reasons but most often, they did it for apparently no rhyme and reason. They called it an art of disciplining and transforming rough village lad to refined human being.
But, the fact of the matter was, their way of disciplining made my life miserable. I felt like a piglet in the boots. Therefore, as much as I hated them, that much I feared them too. Their overwhelming presence was felt far beyond school fence into my village alley where I once acted like king (among dogs, cats, cocks and lambs). It made me think twice before I beat up my neighbor. It made me more hesitant to lay ambush for the seniors who oppressed me. I underwent an impulsive transformation. From a person who threw lamb size stones and stilled a running sheep, I was soon reduced to a frightened boy because of my teachers.
So to say, I survived the most corporal schooling days in our history. Of many such incidents, there are few instances that I still remember as though it happened yesterday. It lingers in my heart and head afresh all the time.
It was once in 1987, that I fought with my peer over who should lead the line for dinner. Surely, that did little to please our headmaster. He pulled me out of line and then began his lashing. I vividly remember the a bamboo bow used. By the time 2 cooks came for my rescue, the bow was all broken into pieces and dinner was served. As I limped into dormitory, empty stomach, I thought he broke my ribs and limbs. But to my good fortune, I survived.
Then it was once in 1988. Dinner time again. I was never taught to say Buddhist version of grace before our food. All I did was learn it by heart after listening to our seniors. So in the process, I got most of the words and meanings wrong. As a young boy knowing meaning was unimportant. What was important was how loudly you say the grace. Then there was one line that I said it wrong with my voice at its max. Here it is: ཡེ་ཤེས་དཔག་ཡས་ཚེ་ཡི་མཆོག་སྩོལ་མ།། But in place of མཆོག་སྩོལ་མ། I said "Chok torma". It was gross translation of the holy text, but little did I realize then. "Chok Torma meant "shit like stick". Once again I was pulled back from the line. With an overwhelming sense of fear, I waited for the school captain to fetch teacher-on-duty a stick. Luckily, school captain did not bring a bow that time. He instead got a bundle of slender willow shoots with their leaves removed. Then the Teacher-on-duty took the liberty of whipping me left and right. He stopped when his hands ached and couldn't proceed further. When I refused to cry even after countless lashings, he labelled me as 'Paw'. -loosely meaning, 'tough boy'.
The next incident that I remember with exact precision is a 'Shouting case'. Yes, we were once shouting on top of our voice when we saw a herd of wild boar wrecking the potato field that belong to a local farmer. Many of us were involved so we were given a 'mass punishment'. In a bright sunny day, we were all made to hold our ears and then stand on our knees with sharp gravel underneath for an hour (for 2 periods). Unfortunately, I happened to be the only tiny boy in the group!
Then there is one incident, that still haunts me day and night like devil. This incident has a reference to the same Headmaster, who used bow on me. That time it was not bow, but a cable wire with rods removed!! He picked on me, when my marble-playing companion complained about me bullying him. I saw my Headmaster go mad beyond measure. he pulled me to a room. After he put my head between his thighs I became like a helpless goat tied for sacrifice. He whipped me incessantly and I could sense the damage cable wire was doing on my soft buttock. Surely, when he released me, I could see blood clotting every where, starting from buttock to calf.
Later it turned out into wounds and took ages to heal. With whipped-wounds everywhere on my body, I refused even to be bathed by my loving mom on weekends. When my Mom finally saw what was on my body, she cried bitterly. Soon my three sisters joined her. I was treated with grand Egg maru that day.
To conclude this post, I wish all my teachers, -past and present, living and dead a very happy teachers day.