First Day First Show
First Day First Show5 mins 524 5 mins 524
This is a story about boys who dare to take risks to explore possibilities beyond the routine. We were fortunate to be among such brave boys.
Our school was traditional and the discipline was suffocating as you would have experienced. We had to wear uniforms without fail or else we were asked to go home. We were in the 9th standard and up to this time I had been a sober and obedient student. It was incidentally that stage in my life where I had to move to the next level of maturity. This was not the primary class anymore.
The awareness that we were no more boys but on our way to manhood was exhilarating. It is strange that when such a realization hits you, you are suddenly forced to change. This process of change is always tricky as it sets in force a series of actions and reactions of great force. Simply put, you are forced to meet these changes headlong and have no option to avoid them. This is where you either build capabilities to understand and manage changes or just succumb to the pressures.
Our group of five squarely fell into the first category. We took challenges headlong and managed them with the ease of an expert. We dared to take the roads less traveled. This story is about how we succeeded in bending the rules of our school and yet managed to become heroes, winning the hearts and minds of our teachers.
One enterprising friend proposed that we begin a competition, which only the bravest can handle. All of us were avid movie buffs, nothing great about it. The competition itself was simple. We had to watch movies, every movie that got released; the catch was that we had to watch them ‘first day, first show’.
The logistics were challenging.
We needed money (a rare commodity those days)
Movies released every Friday and it was always a school day unless it was a festival falling on that day. So, we had to necessarily bunk school.
Tickets were hard to buy on the first day of the movie and there was no advance booking facility. This meant we had to reach the theatre very early and fall in the serpentine queues. Remember, we could afford only the lowest class, then costing about 39 paise a ticket.
To make a fast getaway, we needed a vehicle (bicycle, not motorcycles or cars which were far and few). In fact, very few of us could afford a bicycle!
We cannot be caught; either at home or at school.
Despite all these seemingly insurmountable challenges, this small band of daredevils vowed to take the competition. So it was that the competition began. To conclusively prove that we had watched movies as per competition rules, we had to retain and produce the ticket stubs as evidence.
The competition began in right earnest and was progressing well until one day when we cycled headlong into trouble.
As usual, my partner and I reached school, wearing normal clothes instead of a uniform. In line with the practice of our school, we were not allowed to the assembly and were turned out. So far, so good. I had chosen my friend as my partner because he had a cycle and was also well funded by his parents. We took the cycle and began our journey to the theatre at high speed.
We would have made it safely had it not been for Ramachandran Sir. He was not even our class teacher, but he was one of the seniormost teachers; and the strictest of them all. Just as we were about to hit the highway, we saw him labouriously riding his cycle towards the school. He was late and seemed to be in tension about it.
It was inevitable that there would be a head-on collision. He braked hard when he saw us tearing away on our cycle and waved.
“ Is the school closed today?” He asked.
“ No Sir.”
“ Then, why are you not in school?”
“ Sir, Rao is sick and I am rushing him to a doctor,” I said
“ Why, what happened to him?”
“Sir, he is having fever and stomach ache. Loose motions Sir. He needs medicine.”
“ Take him home after you see the doctor. When you come back to school, meet me and tell me how he is feeling.” Saying this, he drove off.
We failed the competition that day. I took Rao home and returned to school. I remembered that I had to report to Ramachandran Sir. I went to him directly.
“So, how is Rao now?”
“Not good Sir, but better.”
“You took him to the doctor?”
“Don’t know Sir.”
“Sorry Sir, I did not ask the name of the Doctor. It was the CGHS clinic, sir.”
“Oh, I see. But Ravi, I am unable to understand one thing.”
“ Both of you were not in your uniforms, that much I can see. Why did you not wear uniforms?”
“ Sir, mine was not washed. I don’t know about Rao.”
“ So, both of you were turned out of school?”
I was beginning to lose my composure. I knew we have been exposed.
“ Ravi, I have been teaching here for 20 years. Boys like you come and go, but me? I will be here for another twenty. Do you understand?”
“ Yes, Sir.”
“Where were you planning to go?”
“Farz? Jitendra Kumar?”
“Sir, how do you know?”
“ I told you, I may be a teacher, but not a fool.”
“Yes, Sir. I mean no, sir.”
“What do you mean? Yes sir, no sir?”
“ Teacher, yes Sir. Fool, no sir.”
It was inevitable now for me to be marched to the principal’s room. My parents will be called. I had reached a dead end.
“ Son, you must enjoy life, I agree. But responsibly. Go now and remember what I said.”
It was all over; the competition and spirit of adventure. But, no. I told you that we were daredevils and prepared to take up challenges. After a serious discussion amongst ourselves, we decided to carry on with the competition.
The rules of the competition were changed in light of this incident and an Act Of God clause was introduced. Such incidents being beyond human control, an exemption will be made. We had missed the first show that day. But as per the amended rule, we watched it later and it was counted for the competition.
Indeed, this was a very close encounter.