A puny six year kid being packed to school without consent
Was the beginning of life’s best years that I in school had spent
It wasn’t simply first sight love, for this I must confess
But ten years later, studies done, I knew this place was best

Today it’s sixty years since I joined my alma mater
Nothing comes afore Oak Grove, regard for which is greater
My wife and children always know what’s closest to my heart
Memories of school will stay with me, till from this world I part

But when I joined Oak Grove School a lower KG kid,
The thing I do remember I didn’t like the place a bit,
Out of place and lonely I would stare at stars & moon
Or downhill at the twinkling lights of sparkling Dehradun

So the first thing I then thought to do was indeed very cool
I passed my time in planning an escape out of the school
The reason to my mind for this was really quite insane,
T’was Miss D’Collis headmistress & her Malacca cane.

A tall and forceful lady with attitude far from mild,
Her motto was: spare the rod and spoil the blessed child
How we lived was analyzed by watchful eyes of teachers
To them we were not simple kids but very naughty creatures

I was wary of teachers ‘cause discipline was their mission,
So all the dormitory matrons I viewed with great suspicion,
Their way with nasty little brats just whenever they caught’em,
Was giving dis-incentive slaps upon their little bott’ems

At night I bundled in my quilt, scared of thunder – lightening
Curtains moving in the breeze like ghosts were very frightening
With one eye, I’d peep out, haplessly looking for Miss John
But not a thing could make the matron wake up till next morn.

At first I disliked timings, rules, the studies and had curses
For bearers, hospital, doctor, & the stern looking nurses
Things I hated, were Yes’es and what I liked were Nots
The railway doctor too injected painful vaccine shots

But these were wrong impressions as I found in later years
Loved by children, Sisters Caston, Morris were such dears
Miss John and Miss D’Collis also proved too good and fair
Loving us & pampering us and showering us with care.

Mr. Rick in good ’old days was a much loved character
His porter lugging on his back an old time film projector
This was a saving grace and cheer for every home sick boy
Cause we saw all the English flicks that little boys enjoyed

Time passed, I got used to all the corners, nooks & places
I grew and learnt such little things as, tie my own shoe laces
I learnt to read Arabian nights, Grimm’s fairy tales and fables
Tarzan, Robin Hood & Arthur’s knights of the round table

In flights of fantasy I flew with wild imag’ ination
Dull, routine activities changed to lively animations
Let me share a secret of that life, of joy and tears
That child still lives in me, now grown up by many years

I began to love the nature in this magic place I was in
Silent mountains, cool breeze, trees, no traffic & no din
The night air filled with jungle calls of hyenas and jackals
With dark forest shadows, filled with eerie night-owl calls

I gazed at mighty Oak trees with their spinning acorn seeds
Brush wood on the mountain slopes outgrowing all the weeds
Stinging nettles brushing legs making them red and swell
Dog leafs to treat the rashes so it didn’t pain ‘like hell’

I loved to see the clouds float down and wet our cheeks and hair
And jet black ravens fly and perch on wires as they pair
The slippery grass and mossy stones, painting the hillsides green
As rivulets of rain water, zig-zag down into the stream

I saw the beauty in the hills, birds, forests, rain and mist
The nature walks and fancy fair, sports day, is just the gist
Cricketing in the valley, Mussoorie trips in snowfall, rains
The roll call bell, Homers & going home in railway trains

Life became more carefree from class five in senior school
We got access to games and sports & outdoor swimming pool
For swimming we went crazy carrying trunks and towel all day
So that when the permission came we’d be in without delay

We played inter school matches, boxing, hockey and football
The grounds were filled with cheering as the boys put in their all
Our throats grew sore with shouting as we boosted up our players
The pride of OG winning, was seen strongly in our prayers

But truly said ‘boys will be boys’ we grew naughty and bright
We loved the school but playing pranks we took as our birth right
We raided Jhits laddu shops & Orchard trees for peaches
From pantry we took all the packs of butter in our reaches

The tuck shop was on hit list even ‘Moula Bux’ not spared
We shop lifted his Japcakes, Stick jaws as much as we dared
For those who read all this there’s really no need to get angry
Boys who dine in boarding schools are always-always hungry

We loved to break the bounds and go on Sundays to the streams
And sit and laze on hill sides building castles of our dreams
We also bunked to Muss at night shaping our beds like tricksters
With Slippers, rolled-pillows & quilts, to see Rialto pictures

Juria, Kalyan Singh were bearers in the boys’ school dorm
In swinging style they rang the bell to wake us every morn
But God save from the matron, innocent sleepers ‘rising’ late
The caning while one’s still in bed, I can’t forget till date.

Oak Grove became my second home I loved this school of ours
The place of our formative years that filled our minds with powers
To face the world with confidence we set to venture out
The proof is all Oakgrovians have done well without a doubt

But Sadly After passing school class mates got out of touch
Missing friends (and girlfriends?) whom they all loved very much
Don’t let nostalgia prey on you, old Oakgrovians do take heart
For God in all his wisdom now plays an important part

Behold in 21st century there’s a miracle of the Gods
It’s the age of computer laptops, face book, Orkut and I pods
Just log in to the OG wall for those you’ve searched for ages
And presto you’ll find their links, pics, contacts in its pages

Sweet memories that I nurture within my heart and soul,
Of innocent childhood days I spent, keep me from getting old
I’m back in time to when I was in school of tender age
Nostalgia fills as day & night I dream of my school days

– Maj. Gaurav Mathur (1966 Batch)

This piece was shared by Gaurav Mathur on the Oak Grove School, Mussoorie Facebook group on June 11, 2018. This is his first submission to Oakgrovians Young & Old.


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