Darkness My Light

Walking back to the house after dinner was always a treat. Not only was I well fed and looking forward to goofing off during Toye Time, I had these few precious moments to be a part of time itself.

It’s surreal how often that lamppost outside ABN’s house would suddenly turn off while I walked under it; that was the will of the cosmos calling out to me. The night was my home. And everybody knew. Even my House Master.

Once he caught me up at 2, in his PJs, dog in tow, pretending to study: I was roasting insects with my table lamp. Luckily for me, he didn’t make rounds the night we snuck off for a dip in the pool, or when we climbed up on the roof of H-house through the parapet to stargaze and long for the free lights of Mussourie.

Night was when the all the excitement happened. The Chamoli earthquake that left a huge crack across the MSS’s classroom ceiling was not without its share of humour, when in the dead of night 500 schoolboys rushed out of their wobbling residences. Much confusion and headcounting later, just when we’d begun to think we’d lost of one of our flock, a portly B-former somnabulates down HB’s front steps, and rubbing his eyes, says: “Who’s got us an extra PT yaar?!”

Whether it was pranks, contraband (i.e. Maggi and a kettle), or deep conversations, something about the darkness at Doon etches those memories deeper into my mind. A drop of adrenaline is released when you walk from the Weekly room to O-House early Friday morning, to deliver the final copy for printing to Monty — across the spooky tennis courts supposedly built on burial ground, and past the dhobi ghaat behind H&K, deathly silent except for the bajri under your feet. If that’s not enough, there’s the knowledge that if you’re caught you’ll get into a LOT of trouble, and then quickly out of it, in case the Weekly skips breakfast Saturday morning!

And if it rained at night — those were the days! Usually meant no rounds of the house by tutors and such, so picture your neighbourhood church turning into Chandni Chowk. Toye Time would literally become Toy Time with room cricket or something else, and all of us would be a lot more at ease. Till today I feel a sense of calm and peace when it’s stormy outside.

It’s really the little things: sneaking into a senior’s room to nick an all-out, chasing civet cats through the corridors, dancing weirdly with 50 other guys in a tiny common room with no lights on, bunking a Saturday night movie to walk around campus and take in that fresh night air, spotting Orion, and indeed, seeing the Big Dipper hanging over Vaha’s house every night after dinner, as I walk back to Hyderabad. It made me cut across the main field, many times, to get better, longer look. And I would do it again. I’d do it all again, in a flash of a shooting star.

(This is the first/last thing I’ve written in a while, dated September this year, and it is about my days at Doon. Originally meant for a school magazine, I don’t know if it ever got published. The key direction I received while writing it was that it needs to be “D-Form Parent Friendly”! I tried…)


2 Responses to “Darkness My Light”

  1. Nicely written Kasewa – brings a plethora memories to life!

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