What is the definition of a royal? How do we come to be called a blue blood? It is when you are pure and 100% certified. We all know someone or the other who is with the defence services. I have unconditional respect & affection for anyone who are in the forces, in any form or shape. There are certain things in life that are ‘sacrosanct’, i.e. not to be interfered at all, though by now, we know, there exist some anomalies in the way forces operate. They are one of the two institutions in the country who should be kept away from everyday scrutiny. The other are the parents. You cannot and should not question your parents. But even in the defence forces, there seems to be a clear demarcation of blue blood & light blue blood. More than the final step, your first step into the parade grounds determines the appropriate shade of you colour. If your first step is not into NDA but from one of the specific defence academies, you are light blue. True blue bloods are from NDA only. In the same vein, there is a clear difference between civil servants from ‘the academy’ and the ones who are ‘promoted’. And I agree to it. It is unconditional.
Just like us. If your first step while joining school was not in junior school (JS), somewhere at the back of minds of the ones who did, you are light maroon. We are ‘the maroon’ blood. In equal effect, if your final step out of Jharipani was not after passing Cl XII, you turn light maroon, even if your first step was in JS. There are reasons, beyond any conscious doubt to prove the same. If you did not get your hair oiled by ‘aayaji’ in a queue, if you have not been comforted by ‘bearaji’ after your first fully naked community bath, if your tuck box was not stored in the stinking tuck-box room, if you have not sung the same five bhajans during assembly, in rotation, if you have not experienced fear & sweat trickling down your spine just by a voice ordering, ‘bearaji, get the cane’, if the same voice has not melted your heart when you were leaving JS & venturing into the big bad world of senior school, if you did not stand under the clock, punished for something that your desk mate did, if you have not watched He-Man forgetting the most atrocious smell which was a mix of the oily hair in front of you, his/her socks which hasn’t been washed for a week and the monsoon drenched moist ‘daree’ spread on the floor, if you have not slept on Sunday afternoons, cozying up in your blankets, to be woken up by the smell of the snack of the evening at tea time, if you have not got confused on Sunday wondering why is a certain girl, roaming in the ‘boys flat’, wearing a trouser & not her tunic, only to realise it’s a sardar boy drying his hair after his weekly hair wash, if you have not gone on ‘nature walks’ slyly planning a race to SGC’s white cross, knowing very well, you will be caned for even thinking it aloud, if you have not cried when a kid from your section was sent to the other section, without your consent, even though, nothing much changed, you are light-maroon blood. It is unconditional.
From some strange and unfathomable reason, even if you skipped all of this (and much much more) and happened to join senior school, if you did not rejoin in Cl XI after boards & did not leave Jharipani after Cl XII, you can, in no way, be called a ‘the maroon’ blood. You may be doing wonders in life after passing out, you may be more active among ex-students now than you ever were in school, you may be very popular among ex-students too. We all appreciate your efforts. We sincerely do. There are equals. And there are first among equals. And shall always be so. It is unconditional.
Or is it really so? Can we really put a condition to this feeling? What is that makes us all maroon? Just spending years there? Just having these repeat conversations & sharing experiences which probably are more in numbers than someone else? Or is it that bond we developed, the feeling that connects us. To me, it connects me 24X7, 365 days a year. There is not a single day, I don’t think about school. Yes, now we have social media & WhatsApp groups which keeps throwing news about school, schoolmates & their whereabouts to us, every day. And yet, there are some who have been in touch when all we had was letters to write. To this day, a single message is what we crave for and is enough to soothe my heart. And then there are those, who were in school, right from Cl III to Cl XII and have not bothered or made any attempt to remain friends. I personally have crossed paths with such people who have consciously refused to recognise me. And I know of people, who were in school only for 3 years, kept in touch with their close groups all through & are one of the most active & engaging people today. So, what do I call this set of people?
There are people who were with us only till junior school. And they left. If you ask them now, probably, many of them wanted to leave. But, there are many who just didn’t want to leave. They cried & still get upset by the thought that they had to leave school. They were too young to choose why they joined OG. But while leaving, they wanted to choose not to leave. But probably could not. Was it their fault?
There are people who joined in senior school & finally became School Captains! Why so? Ideally, would not someone who had joined in Cl III & apparently was ‘the maroon’ should lead the school? There had to be some reason, right? No conditions applied there. Then, why on anything else?
All of us, for whatever time we spent there, breathed the same air, walked the same roads, sat on the same pushta. When we felt cold, it was someone beside us who ensured the muffler gets the perfect knot, when we didn’t have shoes, there was always someone who was watching silently & would walk up and say, I think you deserve it today, more than me. When we wanted to cry alone, most of the time, someone would find us & just sit there till we were dry of tears & thoughts. And then would suggest, to call him the next time I am feeling bad. We threw the same tantrums, performed the same mischiefs and saw the same dreams. We had the same teachers who taught us, the same smells making us nostalgic and the same memories that we cherish till date. It didn’t really matter if that kid joined us in junior school. If she or he felt for me, the way it was supposed to, he was not light or dark, but a ‘true maroon’.
Why do we call it the OG Spirit? And if it is a spirit, it better be unconditional too. Long Live this spirit. It will live, forever.
– Kanishka Mallick (1996)
This piece was shared by Kanishka Mallick on Nov 30, 2018 over personal messages.