Being in construction firm, I have come across many students of my father's. Well, he used to teach students who had pursued their course in mechanical engineering for certificate level. On an average, I come across five to six of them per annum, they all have the same thing to say about our father: he's a jolly man.
If one would remember, there were audio cassettes out in circulation with RTI logo, they would manually record every individual cassette and tried to sell them. His band was named Nature Club. I don't know what was so natural or nature friendly then, but they surely were always playing gigs and singing.
During my childhood days, when a semester would end, I would go around empty hostels and collect what those students had thrown away. There were books, notebooks, pens, pencils, geometry boxes, etc. Of course, we would never tell our parents about our heroic deeds of being Robin Hood, for if the word got out, it would be the only phase whereby you wished your mother didn't know how to weave ghos and kiras. Simple reason being, bamboo sticks being in ample amount and lashings with those were quite painful, today's generation would never know about it.
Anyway, there was this time when I would get water colours and paint brushes, without spending a dime or a nickel. My uncle would say that he would make paint brushes out of furs from kittens, how would he know that waxing off a kitten or a pussy cat would be an act so malignant for today's animal lovers, that they wouldn't mind crucifying him on a live banyan tree?
Whatsoever, we were kids and we were just adorable to those students. Some would give us their paintings and some would give us their colours. Few of those students would take us to town, buy us samosas and I remember one among many, Ganesh Daju buying me limca. At times, an act of buying a carbonated drink in hot summer days of Phuentsholing, is greater than you circling around the stupas.
Since we were kids, we could get away by asking few of the precious instruments or toys of those students. Like, one time, we got a harmonica out of a student, who didn't want to give but we insisted. That kid later, would ask his friend to hide his harmonica while I was around. Perhaps, not being sexiest, but that's how it feels to be a woman? You getting away with certain things whereby little bit of expenditure is required. Oh come on, now am chauvinist for saying so?
Jokes apart, there was this one moment when I followed my father and went to hostel. Perhaps, he had work that time and the hostel was filled with boys. When students were around, we never entered. We were just too shy to be seen taking away their stuff perhaps. Anyway, there they were, so many boys in four big dormitories. We would hear that they would raise pets which was forbidden as per school's rules, and their pets were funny. I would have understood if they raised cats or dogs, but some little weirdo back then, dared to raise a monkey in their hostel. It is funny to think about it. How would anyone on earth put an effort to catch a monkey and then make him a pet? That's where my logic fails pertaining to the pets. Animals are supposed to be in wild, free and at large. Just because men are slaves of conglomerates doesn't mean that they make proletariat out of animals?
Anyhow, it was towards evening and following my father was hard. Perhaps, longer legs and its angle covered more distance than a fat chubby kid's feet do? Anyhow, I got lost and there I was around those students and answering their queries like I was the first man on the moon. Howsoever, the questions weren't rocket science, I just had to answer which grade I studied in, what my name was, who my father was, how old I was and etc., you know those questions we answered when we learnt the art of speech and the very questions the infants of this generation won't answer? God, how I envy the kids today. They would get away just by saying: your face creeps me out or you know the answers why would you ask?
While I was being this astronaut who had been to black hole and back, a nice student gave me a Chinese Rubber Bubble Gum. He said, it was from China, foreign land and I should eat that. I should share it with my father and my brother, he would say. I however, thought, I would share it with my little brother, because that was very much neatly packed, and it was very much shinny. I was happy to have that. I would keep it in my pocket and while I came back home with father, right next to the banyan tree, I revealed to him that one of his students had given me a rubble bubble gum, all the way from China. He didn't response, perhaps he was busy contemplating his own issues in his head. Then I put my hand in pocket and showed him the glittering, well packed rubble bubble gum, all the way from China.
To this day, God I swear, I know how my father yelled at me: That's not a bubble gum, throw it away!
I won't listen to him and he would scold me again and I threw it. Next day, I would go to the very place to search my rubber bubble gum, but to my dismay, I would never find that. It would take me a decade, just to realize that, I was given a condom that night. Yes, a decade, because when I was taught about it and was showed one and made to feel one, I could remember the circular shape of that Chinese Rubber Bubble Gum! Till then, I thought that in foreign countries, people chewed bubble gums which were circular in shape! And of course, something my father didn't let me have!
But then again, after a decade, there was another kid in the colony, who was conned by some other older kid, told him that it was a balloon given to him by his Mama, and he was blowing that mama ko balloon in public. The aunties however, in that colony started to scream his mother's name when they saw him blow that balloon and play around. Well, it's hard being the younger kid around mischievous society. And aunties, don't they behave in weird ways? Perhaps, if only had they seen that piece under the shadows of silence, they would have succumbed and resorted to it diplomatically, but they hadn't, it was daylight and perhaps, the reflections from that gallant glittery bubble gum was so malicious, they all had to scream: Dophu ( of course name changed) ko mummy! Hera timro chora ley kay khel dai cha!
And in all that, I still wonder, who gave me that chewing gum? I surely have many questions to ask him at this age! -_-