When I heard the sound of school bells in a television program, it made me remember the excitement, joy or terror that sound (music) used to bring me when I was in school.
The bells in between two classes , called "periods" (pireed in Malayalam), some times sounded terror. This depends upon who is taking the next class, whether any home works are pending etc. If some exam results are to be announced in the next class, then I would have stomach aches. Even after leaving school, in dreams I used to hear the sound of bells, the teacher coming in and distributing answer sheets, my answer paper being missing or myself getting a Zero etc.
I did my schooling of first to fourth standard in Govt. Lower Primary school, Irinjalakuda. The first standard class room was covered with wooden meshes painted in light blue, and on rainy days water used to come in through the meshes. My grandfather (mother's father) would come to school in the evening, to take me home. He will be wearing gray or yellow or blue colored plain shirts with very long sleeves, and a mundu. When the bell rings at 4, All will run out and I will be searching for the gray colored shirt near the gate. I still can feel the tension I used to have, if he was a little bit late.
We were staying in a rented house in Peshkar Road, Irinjalakuda that time (the house was owned by KVK Warrier, the freedom fighter). My mother's house was near to the school, and my grandfather would take me there first. I will have a half an hour break there, eating chips and reading Poompatta. Later, we will go to my home, and he will tell lot of stories from his life as well as from books.
After a long time, for some purpose I had to go to my old school. When I saw the classrooms covered with blue meshes and heard the sound "Ka Kha Ga Gha" from different sides, I felt like crying.
I joined National High School, Irinjalakuda from the fifth standard. Even though I always enjoyed school life, it was the friday evenings bell that brought me utmost pleasure. One new terror was the exam bells. Every half an hour during an exam, a bell would ring to indicate the timings. I always had timing problems during examinations, and most of the exam bells have been terror symbols for me.
Nowadays I think the exam bells are not very necessary, as most of the students are having wrist watches. I got my first wrist watch when I joined the Engineering college. But I don't think that has anyway improved my timing in writing examinations.
That was an HMT watch which My father and I together went and bought from a shop somewhere in Ernakulam. I was thrilled when the beautiful girl in the shop helped me to tie the watch in my left hand.
That makes me remember the wall clock my grandfather was having. He used to constantly experiment with it. The basic mechanism was the only part of the original clock. The covering of the clock was made of card board and wooden crates taken off a box that he got from a vegetable shop. On the card board, he pasted numbers cut from an old calendar to indicate the time marks. When the clock gave problems, he took out the machinery and put in a vessel filled with kerosene for sometime. Another interesting thing was that the clock would work only if it is kept in a slightly slanted position. This angle increased by time and somebody joked that eventually it will have to be kept upside down.
My grandfather passed away in 1992. Now when I think back, I feel how great a person he was. I don't think he ever believed in leading a "planned" life. He experimented with Ayurvedic medicine shops, many other businesses, he did Pujas, and various other things in life (as told by mother). But he never had any attachments towards any of these things, I feel. He had strong principles, and always kept them. He lead a very simple life.
I have few of his things that I keep with me as a treasure. An old seal of his medicine shop (When I was in school, I would spread ink on it and put seal in my notebooks and show it to my friends proudly), few pieces of "Pavizha puttu" used for some medicine, a lens etc.