This is a fantasizing view of reality as it unfolded; a semi-fictional, semi-autobiographical account of past events with hopefully no future implications. This will be a three part series on what could have possibly happened if dreams came true. For some people, some dreams actually did.
Why hill stations are favoured more for honeymoons, against say, beaches or any other tourist spot? In fact, I don’t see a third option other than these two. But a hill station would win pants down, oops, hands down. Some say it’s got something to do with the temperature. Well, inside the honeymoon suite or outside? Anyways, for kids who were sent to boarding schools on hill stations at a ripe age of eight (many younger than that) a hill station for pleasure was a fantasy in itself. Or was it?
At the beginning, hill station signified a prison. There was only one word to define life up there – discipline. Everything was a routine. Get up at 0530 hrs , breakfast at 0800 hrs, 10 mins breaks in between never ending 45 mins classes, lunch at 1245 hrs, tea time at 1545 hrs, get refreshed by 1830 hrs, finish dinner in 15 mins and lights out at 2000 hrs. Next day get up at 0530 hrs, breakfast by 0800 hrs and so on..… You had to follow the tick of the clock. Life started with an ear smashing, teeth cringing wake up bell ring and ended with a single shout of “lights out”. Life took twists and turns as you kept moving up standards. Gradually, you started getting used to the tick of the clock. Later, it felt weird if things didn’t happen at the designated time. A lot of times it got depressing, irritating and desperate if things didn’t happen at the right time. (more on the depressing and desperate times as it ‘chills’). Anyhow, the early morning wake up bell ring remained constant. Everything during the day was also more or less stagnantly similar. Life brightened, though, after the “lights out” shout. Boys turned nocturnal creatures. In the cold dark night when most of the world would be getting ready to slip into their warm beds, boys would crave for fun and pleasure. Many a times, it would be experimental. Some liked it slow and smooth. Few preferred a quickie. There were the odd ones who slept off mid way. Because of low temperatures at most times of the year, the least preferred was the wet one. It was an addiction, though. Once back in the dormitory, it was lights out, flesh in.
Yes! But before your imagination runs wild and gory, let me clarify. By flesh I only meant massage. Seniors had only two modes of entertainment. The most common and entertaining was the massage. Sportsman or not, if you are a senior you got to get tired. If you are tired, you got to get massage. Most seniors had one boy massaging his whole body. But there were some who had a boy massaging their feet and another on their arms! I don’t think even Rocky Balboa had such a lavish massage after a massive fight night. The “wet” variation was the other entertainment, i.e. washing clothes. Some or the other senior would throw some or the other garment at your face. You had to manage the washing soap, the scrubbing brush and manage not getting caught by the warden. Shirt, trouser, handkerchief and socks were the norm. But, there were some boys in every batch who got the “sacred undies” to wash.
Many of us, juniors, had started believing that these hills, these Rocky Mountains were making us a rock from within and the outside. We didn’t feel anything. The cold certainly did its magic too. As a junior, in the freezing night temperature, while washing clothes, hands in that cold water, we stopped feeling our own fingers. If the warden caught you and kept slapping you, you stood without feeling anything. But God forbid, if clothes are not cleaned properly, the million slaps that were smacked across your face, really made the cheeks senseless. You stopped feeling anything. It was cold out there, no doubt. The weather, attitude of seniors, water from the taps, the winds, everything was cold. The only feeling that kept it warm up on the hills was what most of us mistook as the most pure and innocent feeling in life; knowing very well we desired the unachievable. We knew we were never ever going to conquer what we dreamt. We could never touch. Hence, it remained pure. We never complicated it and it remained innocent.
But it wasn’t the feeling of love. It never could be. What kept it hot and burning; heated arguments over “the look”, burning discussions on “the moves” and hot descriptions of “the encounter”. In the “chills” of the hills, what covered our eyes and minds was the dust of lust.
CHILLSI don’t know if all kids get a sense of becoming adults at the age we did. Education certainly helps. More so, when you get educated on the “taboo” topics? Batches before and after, may or may not vouch for it. But after long debates and animated remembrances of good old days and nights over coffee, beer and morning tea the next day, this batch came to some conclusions. No offence, all defense; good education happens only if there is quality fa-cult-y. We salute the “select few”(and their families) for making us curious, matured and horny boys!Surely, we did have some fa-cult-y figures, starting with the “few boys”not in the “same age group” of the batch they were in. These “big boys” started with becoming the biggest bullies of the batch at the beginning of school. But by the time we left school they became the sweetest and most helpful chaps around. In the entire journey, though, they were a pain mostly. To others, they taught a lot; directly and tacitly. Just by observing these big boys, others learnt so much. It all began from junior division actually; with the way they dressed up, latest fad and style. The way they moved around among teachers, staff and the girls, smooth operators. They were allowed to do “stuff” which normally would have got you “chilly” berates in front of an entire crowd if not the entire school. Even wardens who were not supposed to be in boys’ dormitory made regular visits to ensure these “big boys with big toys” went to sleep at ease, much to the unease of others. The best part, boys feared them, some revered them and tried to emulate them, a very few were hated. Some of them, I believe, are still scorned. But interestingly, boys never got jealous of them. They were simply amazed at what these “big boys” could pull off. On the hills, boys needed guidance. These big boys with their big toys made everything a playground. We thank them and their families to have sent them for us.We all had infatuations. Boys had their pick. A brush of “chill” down the spine (and other body parts) was by cult figures that were “respected”. Some of these cult figures had figures which were the object of fantasy by one and all at some point during or even after school life. It certainly was a dream that some boys had access to a few of them at odd hours of the day (and night). There were rumours of at least two of them having given “experiential learning” to their pupils. No confirmations, no denials either. As I (dis)claimed, some dreams may have come true. We also thank immediate families of these respected few for making regular visits and adding fuel to our fantasies. We did get to hear some suggestive sounds during such visits.
The answer was a chilling, NO.
We all love thrills. We may be living and experiencing a very constrained and disciplined life. In no way, it meant we did not have opportunities to experience thrill, especially the cheap ones.
While in junior division, bathing was fun. It was a common exercise. All boys had to kneel down together and get a bath-full in a queue. Interestingly, only a select few were allowed to wear undergarments for bath. No explanations to the criteria. But that was the thrill. Waiting for the day when you are told, “wear something from tomorrow”. Thrill was over. The thrill was in waiting.
When boys got to senior division, everyday was a thrill. Spanking was a surety. Here too, it was a common exercise. No matter who made a mistake, the entire batch would be “washed off the sins of error”. Thrill began with waiting for the prefect announcing after breakfast or lunch, “Class Z, move in”. Once inside the classroom, seniors would walk in and make the class sit with “eyes closed and fingers on your lips”. Boys could hear whispers and talks in the corridor. But there was pin drop silence in the class. The real thrill began in knowing there is a slap coming but not knowing from where and with whom will it begin? We knew someone will try opening his eyes slightly. To check who opens first, someone will open his eyes before the first one! Washing began and thrill was over. The thrill was in waiting.
As I said, life was disciplined. Everything followed the clock. There were very limited options for everything, including of the opposite sex. Hence, it actually helped keeping time. But, interestingly, here too, it was always a common exercise. There was no jealousy, no competition. “She is mine, but you can try your luck too” was the bonhomie feeling. Of course, she became no one’s. And, boys waited for the exact time for girls to come walking out of the bamboo trees on the turn for “combined classes”. They waited for that one sly look, that one wicked smile. They waited for her to give a look. They had preferences. But in fact any one of the girls from the bunch would do, actually. Once the girls had gone, the small discussion which ensued, started with “today, she couldn’t trace me in the crowd” and ended with “Bastard, why did you block my view? She looked at me and was about to smile”. The other would just retort, “Be in your boots. She was looking at me and even whispered something to her friend about me. Anyways, lets wait for tomorrow and see at whom does she smile”? We neither got a smile back nor ever got to know what was whispered, last of all, if at all it was about anyone in the boys crowd. But it was thrilling. We waited for tomorrow to come.
Boys waited for an invitation to be sent to girls’ school to come and watch our match. The boys in the sports team were excited. But the boys on the stands were even more excited. The playing XI would not have much time, energy or bandwidth to have a good look at the girls in the stands. The ones in the stands were the ones who had all the fun. But in the playing XI, the one who had even half the chance of scoring a goal in front the crowd which constituted of girls would just blank out. He started imagining which side of the field would he run and celebrate; the way in which he would celebrate and towards which girl will he kiss and raise his finger? The wait for confirmation of invitation, the wait for those beauties to walk up to the stands, the wait for that pass which created that half a chance to blank out. The thrill was in the wait.
One of the biggest waits was when boys waited for “Gorgeous”. Here too, “Gorgeous” was everyone’s quest but no one’s conquest. It was a common exercise. All boys had equal faith and hope to harvest their field of imaginations. Everyone waited for her to come out, walk the entire length of the road and disappear in the sloping horizon. Boys waited for her to take the last turn, sprint across the corridors and catch a second glimpse of her from another angle, with waited breath to not let her know they ran like there was no tomorrow. On most days she won’t smile. The day she did, it was assumed it was for a reason. All boys made it their responsibility to convince self and the rest that she smiled at him and only him. The entire day passed in a second waiting for her to return, walk back the entire length and flash the same smile. The day passed. She passed all boys, without a smile. What she left was a new thrill for tomorrow. For today, the thrill was over. The thrill was in the wait.
The real thrill is when you are on the edge and waiting; for the outcome. Deep inside, the factual outcome that would be, is not what you want. But you still expect the same. The imaginative possibility will never be. Yet, you desire. The chase between reality and desire is the “thrill”. Boys chased such moments, everyday. On the hills, with the chills, we played hide and seek with our own thrills.
(MAY BE continued…. )
– Kanishka Mallick (1996 Batch)
1980s 1990s Kanishka Mallick