The timetable suddenly looked so creative when two periods were assigned for the same activity. The last two periods on Friday had CCA (Co-Curricular Activity) while the first two on Saturdays was for Mass PT (aka MPT)!
CCA was both good and bad. We could make a lot of noise, hear some jokes, perform ourselves on the stage and play games off-stage when some uninteresting talk was going on. Or some of us could continue fighting with Sajith and Sureshmani which had started during lunch break over a slice of bread-jam or a few ball-bearings.
The flip side was your navy blue shorts would become ash white sitting on the floor. A patta-patti carpet made no difference as it had the same amount of dust that the floor had. Sometimes this dust came in handy when we would drag our enemy so hard as he was sitting, that it left an indelible mark on him at the base camp!
Mass PT was the time when we saw how the world looked after the assembly finished. Being a Saturday, you could learn how many shades of WHITE existed. There were some students who were always impeccably dressed. White uniform and white shoes and socks were EXACTLY WHITE. Not blueish white, or yellowish white or brownish white. There were some rare species who wore pinkish white. Maybe the white dress was washed with some red saree or shirt. But these colourful whites stood out than the actual WHITE!
As soon as the assembly got over, myself and Mahim would go to the PT room and bring the drums out. Shivanna sir would go on the stage, blow the whistle which meant everyone to take position. One boy and one girl would be on the stage, to lead the show. The boys and girls on the ground would stand with a two-arm distance (side and front). Any crooked line, anyone seen talking, Sir would come to the edge of the stage and shout with glaring eyes – “Aye, Aye” which was enough to send shivers down the spine! And if he just said “Aye” and didn’t slap, that meant he was not in his elements!
Satyanand Sir would be at the back checking the white shoes and uniform. He was not as wild as Shivanna Sir. After hearing Shivanna sir roar, Satyanand sir scolding anyone sounded so friendly. At the most, he would say: Lo, yaako polish maadilla?” Only a student can understand the relation between a white chalkpiece, a few drops of water and white canvas shoes.
Myself and Mahim would be stationed at the very back near the compound wall of the back gate, with Shivanna Sir. Sir would be on the bass drum while we were on the side drums. He would hit the first beat: DHAMMM. Then it would start:
Us: TAKK TAKK
It would end with:
He: DHAMM DHAMM (pause) DHAM!
[Yes, you got it! Now I am sure you can remember the faster version when the drill would have the hand on the hips, legs going front, side, front, position].
Amidst all this, one or two would faint. Shivanna Sir would shout: “Why do you all come to school, I Say!” Some delicate darlings would have sat near the window sill even before the drill would begin. We would see them giving a letter to Satyanand Sir, and him telling them to sit.
During really hot days, myself and Mahim would search for a shade to stand. If our beats went wrong, Shivanna sir would whack our hard head with the Bass drum stick, which had a soft head!
Minutes before the bell, we would be let off to drink water and keep back the drums, or just relax. We had to go back to our respective classes, as MASS PT was for A,B and C sections during normal days.
Before the ‘Sports Day”, Mass PT would be for at least 2-3 hours with classes VI to IX participating and practising. The two arm distance would become one-arm distance to fit all the classes, and students of all shapes and sizes. The ‘back’ ground would look like a small matchbox.
On the ‘Sports Day’, which would take place opposite our school, on Government High School grounds, the drill would look magnificent while Shivanna Sir would look magnanimous towards the students after the drill. He would give us sweet packets at the end of the show and pat our backs.
Just when you thought he had become god, he would slap you the next Saturday for not polishing your white shoes, and make you run 25 rounds after the assembly!