When nostalgia comes knocking, it is time to open the treasure chest of sepia-tinted memories of those good old days spent in the loving embrace of our grand old Alma Mater, Infant Jesus Anglo Indian Boys High School.
For a good number of us, our eventful tryst with IJHS began on that rain-soaked day in the first week of June 1988, when we walked down the wet road of Tangasseri towards the most prestigious educational institution in Kollam accompanied by our parents. I bet for most of us, it was a nervous, yet exciting affair. A new school, stories of bullying seniors, cane-wielding ‘masters’ and above all, the uncomfortable knot around the necks (it was pretty hard to adjust to the knotty transition from the ready-to-tie tie to its original avatar)… these were reasons enough to be jittery.
During the assembly, our roving eyes scanned the area for familiar faces and many of us heaved a sigh of relief to spot friends in the lot. The baritone voice of the towering personality in an immaculate, white cassock, our principal Fr Kayavil, reminded us of what lay in store for us. He seemed to be the epitome of discipline and authority as his stare and a raised index finger could silence the multitudes. Our hearts sank glancing at the stern-faced ‘masters’.
Soon, we were herded by our class teachers to the white washed century-old block (sadly it is no longer there). Soon, it became our home away from home, where we wrestled with new subjects and the black, muddy ground saw many a running race and myriad games. The adjacent building with its ancient-looking bougainvillea canopy always intrigued us of the funny smells emanating from the chemistry lab. It was quite an adventure to sneak around and steal a glimpse of what was happening inside.
As days, months and years passed, IJHS became an integral part of our life, and everywhere we were known by the label of an IJHS boy. In almost every assembly, Fr Principal would remind us in more ways than one of the essence of being groomed as gentlemen. And no wonder, the quest to make us gentleman came at a painful price indeed- No one can forget the painful wacks on the back with the fearsome bamboo canes dealt by some of the unforgettable ‘masters – Kuncheria, Simon, and you know the rest for our little escapades and peccadilloes!!
Not all assemblies were sessions in agony. In fact, the jibes and jokes of Fr Kayavil, especially targetting the plus-sized lady teachers and the paunch of the male staff, would leave us in splits of laughter.
Despite our little rivalries, fisticuffs and competition, still we valued our friendship, which grew as we grew from naughty brats to spirited teenagers. Speaking of teenagers, despite the strict dress code, still we managed to be in style, be it the cut of the trousers, the extra tuft of hair at the nape of the neck, the belts with ostentatious buckles, which used to be frowned upon by some of our teachers. Why? The reason is simple: To mighty impress the ladies across the street. So much so our masters had a tough time patrolling the streets keeping an eye on roadside romeos as Master Hickman and Miss Maureen would term us.
Still it was fun as we had forged thick friendships and the healthy inter-house rivalry, which reached its crescendo during sports and arts festivals. But all rivalries were set aside on House Feast when the boys of Brittos, Berchmans and Boscos gleefully digged into yummy beef biryani lovingly prepared and served by our teachers.