The DODA Chronicles – part I

Letters from Doda!
(Translated from the original Hindi by the author)
Ibbetson House
15th March 1961

My dear Mummy,

Every Saturday is a letter writing day for us. I am sitting in my class of upper two and writing this letter to you. Mummy this is my first letter to you from school. Mummy, we had to first assemble at Kalka where Mr Advani who every one calls as Adoo was waiting for us to put us in the train to Shimla. The whole platform was filled with hundreds of boys and mummy, they were all dressed in suits and ties talking git-bit, git-bit in English and I could not make out head or tail of what they were talking about. No one was talking in Hindi or Punjabi. I stuck with Naresh who joined his gang of friends. They were all Punjabis but they were also talking git-bit, git-bit in English. Naresh said to them, this is my younger brother who will be joining school from this year. One boy was Vijay Khurana from Bombay and he was telling every one how a gang of robbers held up a bank in Bombay and walked away with ten thousand bucks! Mummy I was just wondering why should robbers steal cardboard boxes. The other two boys JPS Knigger and Jwanda became very excited and they also started telling what they would have done with so many bucks. Jwanda was saying, if I had ten thousand bucks I will enjoy with ten thousand dames. Vijay Khurana is a very smart boy and because he is from Bombay every one was listening to him with great interest. Naresh was asking him all sorts of questions about dames in Bombay and bars and all that type of stuff which any village rustic from Ferozepore can ask. Mummy it was so cold you just cannot imagine with snow lying on the way. The trains was going very slowly and some boys would jump off the train and bring some snow in their hands. It reminded me of our ice factory in Ferozepore. I did not say anything because I couldn’t understand anything. But every one else was talking and shouting and laughing. In Barog the train stopped for some time and I also got down. Suddenly some Chinese looking small boys got down from the next compartment and they were talking in Chinese. As I went up to pick up some snow, one of them made a grab at my snow. So I caught him by the neck and shouted at him in Punjabi. Suddenly he took out a knife. I was daring him in Punjabi to fight with me. It was very funny mummy. He was shouting in Chinese and I was shouting in Punjabi. Suddenly he stopped and said, no English. I smiled and said, no English. Meantime Naresh and his gang came running because some boy and told Naresh that your bra is having a fight. The Chinese boy put back his knife but in the process cut his finger and blood started coming out. He started sucking it. Naresh made us shake hands. Later on Naresh told me these boys were from Thailand and all Thai guys go to Rivaz house just like all boys from Africa join our house which is the Ibbetson house. I keep on forgetting the name of my house. So we got back into the train once again and Vijay Khurana once again started telling his tales of Bombay. Mummy Jwanda and Knigger are Punjabi villagers but Vijay Khurana is a Sahib.
Mummy it is so cold here you cannot imagine. It is just like going into our cold storage in Ferozepore. I will write again next Saturday

Your loving and obedient son



Written by, Suresh Sethi
Ibbetson 1961-66