Unlike a vast majority of schools all over India, the all boys school that I attended back when I was young(er) and stupid(er), never shied away from scandalizing it’s confused (pre)pubescent pupils. Back in my school, we didn’t have fancy comic books and slide-shows to explain the birds and bees, we had a man whom I can only refer to as ‘The Unsung Hero of Sex Education in Indian Society’ a.k.a. our PT teacher. Pardon me if that sounded sarcastic but I by no means mean to mock this great man. In fact I’m sure each of the five hundred and fifty kids that passed out from school the same year as I did, owe an unpayable debt to him for imparting invaluable knowledge of the facts of life to us. I mean, how else would we learn that the word ‘period’ meant more than just a lecture? So digressions aside, let me tell you exactly how our beloved PT teacher, whom we lovingly referred to as Mr. Johnny Walker (both for his mannerisms that resembled the yesteryear comedian as well as his beverage of choice) contributed to my life.
As is the case with each childhood experience that scarred me for life, I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was all of fifteen years of age studying in the tenth standard: a time in my life where girls still had cooties and getting second highest marks in Marathi in a class of 85 was the end of the world. Simple times indeed! Back then, Johnny Walker Sir’s PT periods lectures (which were nothing but a half an hour game of kho-kho once in a month which usually ended abruptly when Walker Sir beat up 2/3rds of the class for talking!) were the only respite from Mrs. Jayachandran Geometry’s never-ending Maths lectures. That day, Walker Sir came to class and informed us that it was too sunny outside to play Kho-Kho, and hence we would once again have an indoor PT class (for my less-informed readers, this meant ten minutes of ‘Breathe in, Breathe out’ after which Johnny Walker Sir would fall asleep wide his mouth wide open leaving the class free to do whatever the heck they wanted. But this Indoor PT class was destined to be unlike others. Oh yes my friends, that day was, as Walker Sir had decided, the day when we would leave our boyhood behind and enter our confused teenage life.
“Saavdhan!”, he barked in his inimitable style. Once he was sufficiently convinced that we were sitting as perpendicular as our spines arched by years of carrying outrageously heavy bags allowed, he continued, “Today I will tell you kids a little story.”
At that point the class let out a chorus sigh. Johnny Walker Sir’s stories, much like most other things he did, digressed to something totally unrelated within a span of five minutes, followed by a nap and mass canings. Sensing that the class was least interested, he uttered a sentence which made sure that the class would pay rapt attention to him for any given length of time regardless of what he said after that.
“It’s a story about sex…education!” he quickly completed before our jaws dropped any further.
Now sex-education to me was like the mythical abominable snow-man. I had heard various fascinating and sometimes terrifying tales about it but never before had I actually been on the receiving end of one. For that reason alone, I like the eighty-four others was in a state of semi-shock cum hypnosis for the rest of that lecture and probably a good part of the following week as well.
“Now the Principal has said that the class is too young for sex-education. But who gives a damn about the Principal, I mean what does he know!” ranted Walker Sir who was of the firm opinion that the Principal, just like 99% of the world had his head up in the nether regions. “Too young he says, haan! Bullshit! I know all of you rascals secretly watch FTV.” he smirked at the red-faced class.
“Tension nahin lene ka…even I watch it.” he winked as the class heaved a sigh of relief and chuckled embarrassedly.
“Next class kaun sa hai?” he asked
“Jayachandran Geometry Madam’s extra Math lecture, Sir” we yelled in chorus again
“Pshaw! What will you children ever gain from this Algebra and Geometry business? Oye monitor, go tell her that I’m taking a surprise PT exam, my story is more important than the value of x + y2 !”
As the class cheered aloud, the monitor gleefully ran with the same gusto as Phidippides did to Marathon. Johnny Walker Sir then rolled up his sleeves and perched himself on the table with 84 curious lads hanging on to every word he said. With Jayachandran Geometry Madam out of the way nothing was going to stop him today!