Edited by: Sharanya Vairam

Maine apni school life bahut enjoy kari hai. I still remember the conversation that I had with my father when he proposed the idea of sending me to boarding school. I was sobbing while he was relentlessly making efforts to convince me to give my consent for the admission. Acha hua ki, ro dhoke hi sahi lekin, hostel chali gayi because when I graduated out of school after class 12, I was completely a different person. 

School hostel ki aisi bahut si yaadein hain jinhe main abhi tak nahi bhula paayi hoon. Hostel apne mein hi ek alag si duniyaa hoti hai. Har cheeze alag; har baat alag; har din ek naya lesson. The myriad learnings and experiences from hostel life have groomed me into a better person and prepared me to deal with the possible challenges in life. One such memory is the “Hostel’s Morning Assembly.” 

Now do not get me wrong when I say, “Morning Assembly” and visualize the daily prayer assembly. Yeh waali assembly ka concept hi alag tha aur iski upaj sirf mere hi hostel ki thi. Mujhe nahi lagta ki shaayad aisi morning assembly kisi aur school hostel mein hoti hogi. Ab mere school friends/schoolmates agar iss article ko padh rahe hain toh unhe ache se pata hai ki this Assembly was the best tool to inflict torture on hostellers (pun intended). But let me define it for you to understand my feelings as I write this piece. A “Morning Assembly” in Birla Balika Vidyapeeth was -at least when I was in school- the congregation of all the hostellers at five o’clock in the morning as a daily routine with mandatory “participation” in exercise to remain healthy and fit. The presence of ‘innocent and poor hostellers’ was ensured by the attendance personally taken by respective house prefects in the gracious presence of all the house mother and the PT Teacher herself.”  

So, kahani yeh thi ki subah paanch baje utho, who pink waali T-shirt pehno, sports shoes daalo, basketball court mein apne house ki line mein khadhey ho, attendance do, phir ground mein jaao, apne house ka human circle bana lo aur circle ke beech mein khadha representative/House Sports in-charge jo jo exercise karey usko dekh dekh kar neend aur frustration mein apne haath pair chalate raho. Bunk karne ki sochi toh tumhare saath saath tumhari roommate ki bhi shaamt aati thi coz PT Teacher/House mother phele usse pakadhti thi and after ‘preliminary enquiry’ phir aapki baari aati thi.  

Toh bhai, ek raat phele agar bunk karne ka khayal bhi aapas mein discuss karte they toh roomie toh aisa haath jhaadti ki jaise tumhe jaanti hi na ho. Periods mein bhi mandatory tha jab tak ki ground mein hi chakkar na aajain . Kyunki periods were never allowed to be used as an excuse to avoid any physical activity unless the pain was ‘visibly unbearable’ (personally, this was one of the best things that I learnt in school. It helped me understand that periods are natural, that I should accept them gracefully. They are part of my physical existence till a certain age so why stop enjoying life and making best out of it).

Unfortunately, for me there was no way to bunk the assembly because when I was in 10th, the then house sports in-charge made me the representative and in 11th I became the sports in-charge itself. Waise maine bunk toh maara hain par zyaada nahi kyunki mere nanhe khandho par pure house ke fitness ki zimmedaari jo thi. Ab yahan bhi dard ki kami nahi thi because representative hona apne mein ek dharamyudh tha. Koi exercise chodhi toh in-charge ghoor ke dekhe aur agar puri head to toe karwaayi toh ek side se seniors ghurte aur dusri se batchmates. Thank god juniors mann hi mann gaali deke apna quota pura kar lete the.

Also, my house sports in-charge that is my senior (when I was in 10th) gave me authority that, indirectly and humbly, I can correct my seniors too if they are not doing the exercises properly. But I tell you, this was a huge joke, just like the government does once you become a public servant and you have the “authority” to bring the alleged ‘change’. Seniors ko kuch bolna aur woh bhi mere school mein, yeh toh bhaiya impossible tha coz seniors ka darr and dabdabba namak cheez bhi kuch hoti thi, (mere batch ka bhi tha as a tradition) and panga leke kaun utni jaldi marna chahta tha. Aur batchmates ko aap kuch keh nahi sakte because unka toh scene hi alag hote hai (readers can very well assume). Toh bhai, sabki suno bhi aur sabko bachao bhi  issi ka naam tha  dear “Morning Assembly”.   

Chalo yeh sab toh phir bhi tolerable tha par Assembly ke baad jo nahaane ki mushkil hoti thi asli sardard toh wahi hota tha. Ab bathroom ka ratio, generally, 1:5 girls ka tha, buckets lagana (I mean number lagana) pre assembly allowed nahi tha (decision taken as a matter of policy to avoid morning squabbles) so kabhi nahane ko milta toh kabhi nahi. Phir bhi winters were not a problem because baaiji, at times, gande maasoom bacho par taras khakey after lunch garam paani ki ‘bhatti’ jala hi deti thi but summers were a huge challenge. You know how extreme the weather in Rajasthan is so after lunch also it was not possible to take bath due to naturally hot water streaming out of taps. Uff! Jab itne action packed mornings ki aisi ‘Kick-ass’ start hoti thi toh batao kaun fit na rahega.

Par jo bhi kaho mazaa toh aata hi tha. Ab main sochti hoon ki kaash iss habit ko thodha seriously le liya hota toh aaj paanch baje uthne mein aafat nahi aati (no pun intended). Samjh aaya ki 11-18 age group mein jo fitness gain ki jaa sakti hai woh kisi aur age group mein gain kar paana thodha mushkil ho jaata hai. Morning Assembly ne ek baat bahut achi sikaayi ki HEALTH IS WEALTH. Starting se hi aapna dhyaan rakho; khoob exercise karo taaki jivan bhar ki aadat bani rahe aur body fit rahe. Discipline aata hai, body ke towards responsibility samajh aati hai.

At the end, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all my house-mates for the gentle cooperation and humbly acceding to every request that I had made to show the best of their conduct while we were on the ground. Thank you all my dear Bakulians . I had a great time with you all.

With this, I end my chatar-batar. Meet you next time with something new and interesting.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy…  Exercise daily.

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