I could not think of any other number in my life that carries so much emotions, feelings, memories and stories as this 4-digit number. It has been close to 15 years since I was last at Ghorakhal and things have changed a lot over time. I have gone almost bald (though I still look smart, as she says) and zero-cut is no longer my hair-style. I have switched away from oxford-pattern shoes and do not shine my belt every night. The outside world calls me by my full name – Amar Deep Singh and I still get a different wave of emotions when at times, I unexpectedly hear A. D. Singh, an old voice from a crowd and my eyes immediately start searching for a face, I know from Ghorakhal. But, I am not writing this piece to express what I lost or achieved over these years. Sitting in my room at this point, as I have this sudden burst of nostalgia (which is not unusual) about those awesome days, I simply could not stop jolting some of old memories of Ghorakhal.
The most that I miss after Ghorakhal are my beloved batch mates, seniors and juniors. If I add a number or subtract another from 2456, it will never end up in another number, but it will end up in a person with whom I have cherished moments and shared tons of memories, someone with whom I whispered while being ‘Murga’, another one with whom I ganged up to steal ‘Maal’ after vacations or the one from whom I would have borrowed shoe polish, brasso or tooth-paste. I still feel mesmerized with Samir’s speed (Ghoda) though over the years Ansari (Zia-ul-Haq Ansari) took over him, Saurabh’s (Bhaish) witty jokes and Pankaj’s (Pinny) that weird smile; Tiwari’s (Budhdha) intelligence, Sunil’s (Bechaini) childish restlessness and Maurya’s that boxing power and blazing speed. I can continue to write about each one of them and list will go on but I just wish to say that each of those chaps stood by me every moment and still today, I find them by my side whenever I require them. There is an invisible and sacred bond among all Ghorakhalis. Even if, I happen to meet someone after years, we meet as if it was just tomorrow that we had met last. Atmosphere gets friendly and amicable the moment someone introduces himself as Ghorakhali, even though I would have never met him earlier.
Another important part that I miss is the awesome teachers who shaped me what I am today. It is impossible to forget any one of them. I happened to see a pic in recent edition of ‘The Pines’ and realized that most of them have grown older over the time. Seeing that pic made me yearn to go and meet my Gurus again, soon and very soon. R. K. Sharma sir has grown bald and fatter. J. C. Verma, a bomb in himself still looks equally ferocious in the pic. Seeing him, I could not stop myself thinking him jumping and slapping those ‘Pehalwaans’ sitting in the back rows. I wish to go back and listen to that unique tone of Mr. K. N. Joshi and get inspired by those fundae of SKT Sir. Those teachers, who looked so ferocious at that time, look so cute now, as and when I happen to see them in some pics. I have got this strong craving to go and meet them which is growing stronger with each passing day.
There are so many memories and thoughts passing through my mind simultaneously. At one time, I think of myself sitting in mess and asking Baalu Bhaiya for more chapaties and him replying – ‘Bhaiya Roti khatam ho gayi. Rice khao Rice’. At other time, my mind races to all of us standing in assembly ground in P T Kit for school punishment as school captain is yelling at the top of his voice how school discipline is going to the dogs. The next moment, it races to the auditorium with all of us sitting and watching Titanic and eagerly waiting for Kate Winslet to shed her clothes and finally as she begins with it, suddenly someone (you know who 🙂 ) putting his hands in front of the projector and we end up seeing nothing but the dark shadow of fingers waving on the screen.
By the way, I sometimes feel lucky that I no longer have to get up at 5:30 in the morning. Though, the official time to get up was 5:30 am, but no one would be up till 6 and suddenly at 6, the whole wing will rise from the slumber lining up in front of toilets banging the doors – “Abbe, zaldi nikal, lagi hai, siren bajne waala hai”. It was a miracle how the whole wing managed to freshen up in those last 15 minutes. And, when we used to came for PT, there was no day without ‘Makdaa’. Be it PT or NCC, we just grew expert to find shortcuts. PT and NCC were the worse till the point new Headmaster did not introduce Shramdaan. He not only replaced PT with Shramdaan but extended it even to ‘Zero Period’ for a complete hour. It was such a boring and painful job to cut grass at Grassy Field with that blunt useless metal talwaar rotating it like a pendulum, again and again and it still not cutting anything 🙂 . But, we still had the fun of our life time sitting, talking, slowly moving the talwaar just pretending to do a lot of hard work, in short – Makdaa 🙂
Well! PT story shall be incomplete without Infirmary. I recently heard that infirmary has been refurbished. But most of you who have not visited school over considerable number of years, like me, will still be able to imagine Nandu Sir sitting on his chair and people rubbing their arms outside, so as to fake a state of fever and get rest. If you were seriously sick, probability was that he would throw you out and ask to join PT, sometimes even not giving medicines and if you had faked, he would have certainly blessed you with ‘Rest’ not for one but two days.
Any discussion on Ghorakhal is incomplete without a mention of Cross-Country. Never again in my life, I had so intense feelings and so much dedication for anything else. Even today, I get goose bumps whenever I narrate Cross-country stories to Non-Ghorakhalis. I know that they are not getting even one-hundredth of what I am trying to narrate them, but I feel it all over again as if I am standing right there yelling at the top of my voice –‘Come on, Singh House. Come on Tiwari, kaat saale ko. Bhaag, aur tez, Bhaag’; as if I am still running for my ‘Red T-shirt’, negotiating the slope just before Gola Baba temple curve, pulling me faster, step-by-step, hoping and aiming to cross the ‘Colour’ running just next to me.
There is so much to write about Ghorakhal and with each word, I am getting more nostalgic and emotional but I think that it’s time to take a pause. Whatever, I have written is a very small part of those wonderful years but I hope that this will be a trigger point for many of us getting nostalgic for our Alma mater. I can write about Ghorakhal non-stop for days and still will not be able to put all the feelings, love and respect that I have for that place. This is just a humble dedication to my Alma mater –Sainik School Ghorakhal: ‘The Heaven’.
So taking a pause with a loud shout of – ‘Shri Shri Ek hazaar Aath Gola Baba ki Jai’