R E M E M B E R…
the day I clambered on the Kalka Mail aged five.
Mr Das Gupta was the Calcutta party escort..
..the train chugged in to Kalka and it was bitter cold the 1st of March 59 years ago..
We changed to the hill train and chug-chugged up through 103 tunnels..
The Bus was waiting at Simla Railway Station to take us to BCS…
.. I drifted up to Linlithgow..
Grew up day by day and year by year and seasons through reasons and grime and grind and tears and pain and laughter and screams through blinding rain …
…then like yesterday as it all started I was gone away into a far away world ..
Now as I remember.. do you remember?
Our pocket money days,
the walk to Chipu’s..
Inspection as we showed our nails and polished shoes that hid my holes in steel grey stockings ..
It was cold in the dorms..
the roofs were drummed by hail on metal sheets as we hunkered down
We strolled along the corridors
stopping at the Box Room to get our weekly change,
Lefroy I was..
The worn out bottoms of my trousers were criss crossed by Choru…
never once believed did he
that man walked on the moon…
..the benches well placed to look down on to the second flat.
The War Memorial that chimes on the hour..
Mr Chaprasi walking to the bell and striking it fast and hard
though Chapel was a slow deliberate gong pushing you in to pray..
Mr Bugler shooting his notes across to Tara Devi as the School Flag was lowered..
..the sun had set and a shiver of cold as darkness descended…
at least those days we were far away..
away from the madding crowd; they say not today.
The stadium was symmetrical, as the opening batsmen descended ..
..our hearts in our mouth.
If you and I were the wind that could seep through the cracks of window panes and key holes we would enter our sacred school… you could go past Bursar’s house to the left past the chestnut tree on the right…
Would you sneak up to the Linlithgow dorms where Mrs Goss was the Maitron.. Wishing her Good Morning would you bound down the stone steps and leap up to the Irwin Hall doors taking the left and I right…?
We would enter and see those beautiful chairs with brass plaques of those Cottonians now past and gone.. the stage with dark blue heavy velvet drapes as you look around and see oils of past Masters we see in awe..
Below dinner is prepared in the kitchen under Bull Dog’s supervision, he was sluggishly determinedly sad and hence his name …and the Dining Hall in great regality, the last Cricket XI is painted on the boards ..the High Table at lunch had Von Goldstein Esq; in attendance never absent; his suits from Saville Row was he impeccably immaculate… and that handsome; living a singled out life to serve…he surely missed a woman his lady ..
The dorms were for us lads as you and I creep up.. the bogs to the left as I head for Curzon Lefroy and The Andersen; you have the bogs to the right as you head for ibbetson and Rivaz whose windows overlook the combined Basket Ball and Tennis Courts…below lies the Hos-p where I lay with chicken pox and a fractured foot .. and Sister Seager where Doc Butcher Mukund Lal arrived and cracked your hand with a quick snap best not to complain to that sadistic subtle shaitaan or was he a Samaritan in Wolf’s clothing just to make us wet our pants?
Our class rooms were simple with blackboards and chalk and the fountain out of bounds ; privileged for the Sixth Formers..
Head Master’s Lodge beyond England’s scope no not even Eaton nor Harrow nor Marlborough… what with beautiful garden as he walked his Cocker Spaniel peering below the Swimming Pool and the weeping willow. While across were the Chem and Biology Labs with a complete skeleton and snakes in vinegar…
Amongst the Champion Heavy Weights of the world, the Boxing Season was both harsh brutal but mind and soul forming… My Butterfly weight I won floating and dancing around the ring..
But for those days the Gym was “ Very In”..
Past the slope of Jackal’s Paradise we see the Third and the roof tops of Remove..
There even was the Fourth Flat and then beyond green fields and nothingness… just peace and quiet and not a soul except shepherds and local belles cutting grass..
we flew paper planes ..
If only then the pillars had seen a vision and purchased outright down to the Valley and across to Tara Devi gap…if only.
Let’s get back as the winds of time and leave that wonderful space sublime…
… today we stare out of windows as the entire world stands quietly still…
It’s 🐣 Easter… today is Sunday .. Easter Sunday…
R E S U R R E C T I O N …
The call to pray…
Quiet. Firm. There.
I think of you, of all of us…
A part of my heart
will always beat for you ..