A Village Boy
The Curious Ball
“Good Morning Sir”, said class together, standing up for our teacher. The teacher must have been in his thirties. He was also the Head teacher, known by then as a Headmaster. He was definitely not from Zhemgang Dzongkhag. “Good morning children”, he said. “You can now sit down”, he continued. “We will start our class as usual, are you ready?”, the teacher asked. “Yes Sir’, we all replied excitedly. ‘Ok then let us start, one, two and three”. “Today is Monday, it is sunny day…” It used to be quite a long singing, which I don’t remember now. “Ok, very good, children”, he used to say. That is how, our classes used to begin, we used to sing many songs together. We used to love singing ‘Nima Karma had a farm’, ‘Ten Green Bottles Hanging on the Wall’, ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’, and in Dzongkha “Alo tshu pang na ma jo’, ‘Chap-di Chap-do Chep-chep’ were some of our favourites.
We had around five teachers including Headmaster. They were all male teachers. In the class roughly we were twelve. It was male dominated class; we had just one girl in the class. Her name was Kinley Pemo. Don’t misunderstand me; I remember her name because she was only girl in our class. Not because I had some kind of feeling to her. Unfortunately, I don’t remember many names of my male classmates. I almost forgot! We had a ferocious Dzonkha teacher. We used to call him within ourselves DLT. Everyone feared him, I wasn’t exception. Dzongkha teachers are well known for disciplines. My concentration would be most of the time drawn more towards fear than his teachings. If we were to measure wealth by ability to torture students, he could have been the wealthiest person. Caning, pulling of ears, slapping were part of his classes. Another male teacher was also not very short of these characters; he was not very poor indeed. Other two teachers I can remember were two Indian teachers named NK and John. We used to fear Mr. NK very much, he was scary man; if he was not pleased with one of us, he used to lift us up placing his palms over the ears and throw us on the ground. What a pain it used to be, we had a status no more than bell or a drum, or an animal. Mr. John was lively, we used to love him, and he was not so scary. Sometimes his pinching used to be quite painful but comparatively better. We didn’t enjoy classes as much as today’s children would enjoy. There were never a time we could attend fearless classes.
However, around all these fears and difficult learning there was one hope, a place of happiness; a curious ball. Right after class I used to run to the playground and watch enviously our seniors play that curious ball. I used to wish, if I could get to play that ball on that lovely green playground located on the peak. The playground was beautiful, on the left hand side there was a volleyball playground, on the right hand side, it was grassy slope leading to school vegetable garden in the valley. It was not merely a vegetable garden, it also had three aged plum trees. Those trees must have been there for many years, and must have witnessed many students graduate from the school. Those trees bared fruits very rarely, and those trees may not have ever witnessed their fruits ripe. Too much for the plum trees. The curious ball again, football or a soccer ball, whichever name you like it. The desire to get in, let my feet tease it was unattainable dream. I was too young, and too small comparatively to enter into the field; seniors never allowed me to be part of it. I never got that chance, it remain a dream. It was very unfortunate, I never became a footballer instead, I became a ball boy. It was not that I was forced to become one, but out of my curiosity and love for the ball. I used to run through bushes to the plum trees valley to get the ball. I used to love doing that, to hold it in my hand, hoping that there will be so called one day for me in the future. Once, it so happened that I got injured myself. The stem of a grass went piercing all through my leg muscle (bjemthag). I still have the scar, which is visible from both side of my right leg. That was all out of love for the curious ball.