Rite of Passage

  • It was first brought into class by Mukesh, the oldest among the kids and bit of a pervert. The graphic paperback with the racy illustrations, available only in shady corners of Ratnapark, really captured the imagination of the adolescent boys. The lines,
- Dipesh Karki
Rite of Passage

Aug 30, 2014-

Dahal Sir’s class after lunch break was the usual boring affair. He was reading a passage from Bhawani Bhichu’s Mero Sano Sathi in his usual drab monotonous voice and almost half of the eighth graders were falling asleep. Among those in the class who were still awake, a few were gossiping, while Ravi and Sanjiv, seated in the back, were both peering into their copybooks and chuckling at something.

The lines read: “Through the peephole the boy saw the maid spreading herself under the moonlight as her nightgown sprawled along the bed sheet .....” All of sudden, both boys felt a hard smack on the back of their skulls. For a moment, everything turned dark and when their eye sights cleared, the stern figure of Dahal Sir stood in front of them.

“What the hell are you two supposedly doing?” he yelled.

Both boys were nervous. Ravi stammered and said, “Sorry, Sir.”

He received another hard blow to his face. “Give me what you are reading,” Dahal Sir said. As both the boys hesitated, Dahal Sir snatched the book from them, tearing the cover of Raat ki Urvashi.

A pin-drop silence fell over the class. Even those who were feeling drowsy till then were now at full attention. Everyone was facing the blackboard, but their eyes kept glancing towards the boys, who were both standing with their heads bowed low; their faces had turned completely crimson with utter embarrassment. The overbearing silence made them feel as if they had been put in a torture rack and there was no way out.

Twisting both of the boys’ ears Dahal Sir yelled again, “Both of you guys will be expelled. Let’s go to the principal’s room.”

With pain and fear, both of them cried, “Please Sir. This won’t happen again. We are sorry. Don’t take us to the principal’s room.”

It was around a week back that the erotic work by the notorious writer who used the pen name KP had been introduced into the classroom. It was first brought into the class by Mukesh, the oldest among the kids and bit of a pervert. The graphic paperback with the racy illustrations, available only in shady corners of Ratnapark, really captured the imagination of the adolescent boys. The lines, words and images in the book simply overwhelmed them. They couldn’t decide whether the things they were reading were immoral, sinful or normal. The only idea of sex they had had before was a foggy idea based on the vague descriptions given to them during their biology class by an embarrassed Mrs Amatya. What they had learned in class so far was based simply on routine pedantic biological discourse and nothing more. But now after perusing the nitty gritty details of carnal pleasure, the gratuitous curiosity among the boys had reached fever pitch. They felt a shock and awe that rattled their very moral foundations. By the time Sanjiv and Ravi were caught, the lewd book had already been lasciviously read by almost all the boys in the class.

Sanjiv had always been a well-disciplined student who was good at studies. He was a pale, lanky boy with an awkward husky voice, thanks to the onset of early puberty. He came from a prominent business family and had a good reputation. Ravi, on the other hand, was a mischievous kid with a chubby face, and he wasn’t all that good at studies. His father had abandoned the family when he was just a kid; he had suffered through hardship and was brought up by his mother, who worked as a clerk in a government bank.   Both the students had never had any record of transgressions and had always abided by the rules and regulations. But now, standing in the principal’s room, both boys were shaking with absolute fear. Principal Lal Kaji Sir was a very stern man. Boys used to be scared of even venturing near him. Putting his glasses down and pursing his lips, Principal Lal Kaji shook his head with complete disdain. “How disgusting. You boys were reading porn in class. I will call your parents. You both will be immediately expelled,” he said.

The news reached Mr Bhojraj Basnet, father of Sanjiv, like a firestorm. He was in the middle of a board meeting when a call from his son’s school interrupted him. Fearing something bad might have happened he rushed to the school.  Upon discovering the real reason for the call, he became extremely agitated. He could not believe that his son could soil his image in such an ignominious fashion. Seeing his own flesh and blood standing with his head bowed down, he felt utter embarrassment and was at a loss for words. Right in front of the principal and all the teaching staff, he slapped his son real hard. Tears fell from Sanjiv’s eyes, while his father scolded him at the top of his voice: “You have tarnished the image of our family! I am ashamed to even call you my son!” His father’s harsh words made Sanjiv cry inconsolably, while Ravi stood near the door, visibly shaken.

Inside the prinicpal’s office Lal Kaji Sir and Mr Basnet started to have a grave conversation.

“This is a very serious issue Basnetji. Our school’s regulations clearly state that your son will have to be expelled,” Lal Kaji Sir said.

“I understand your dilemma, Lal Sir. But you have to understand

that I am a prominent businessman with a wholesome image. If the media even get a whiff of what has happened, this will bring my entire family into disrepute. Why don’t you put all the blame on the other kid and let my son off the hook?” Mr Basnet said.

“Well, I can’t help in that regard at all. Action should be taken on both boys,” said the principal.

“Well, Sir. In that case let me remind you that my company donates a huge sum to your school. I know you are a practical man and if you expel my son, you will have to say goodbye to all the money,” Mr Basnet threatened. “And believe me, I am not bluffing.”

Mr Basnet’s warning regarding the repercussions of expelling Sanjiv made the principal think hard. Forgoing the considerable donation would place the entire school in a financial fix. After some thoughtful deliberation, Lal Sir finally

conceded, “ Considering the facts, sure Mr Basnet, we will let your son go this time. But he will have to put in extra class hours. And also, please make sure he doesn’t fall into bad company.”

Relieved by the Lal Kaji Sir’s forthcoming attitude, Mr Bhojraj spoke in a sombre tone, “Sure, Principal Sir. I am really thankful to you. I will make sure that my son will comply with everything. And I will make sure he won’t be friends with that other kid.”

“Don’t worry. We will expel Ravi. Our school should set an example

so that boys don’t commit similar transgressions in the future,” Lal Kaji Sir said, with a malicious twinkle in his eyes.

In the following week, Ravi was expelled from school while Sanjiv remained absent for a week. When Sanjiv later resumed school again, other students hardly spoke to him. Going to school became a nightmare, as he remained a solitary figure. The psychological toll of being ostracised by his peers, together with his pent-up feelings of guilt began to affect his studies. In the mid-term exams, he failed both Nepali and Maths. As a result, he was forced to visit his teachers’ home every Saturday for extra tuition classes while other children enjoyed their holiday. Sanjiv hated it and wished he could get away from everything and even thought about running away from his home. But he loved his mom dearly and couldn’t even fathom the pain something like that would inflict on her. So grudgingly he obeyed everything.

During one of the tuition classes at Dahal Sir’s home, Sanjiv was finding it very difficult to keep his attention on the topic of arcane grammatical rules for forming a portmanteau of Nepali words. Meanwhile, Dahal Sir, ever since learning that Sanjiv came from a well to do family, had become apparently obsequious towards him

“Let’s take a break, kid. Go and rest in the living room while I work on a few things I have to do,” Dahal Sir said unctuously.

Feeling relieved, Sanjiv loitered into the next room, which was well-carpeted. It had a TV in one corner and a large bookcase near the wall. Spotting a children’s folktale section, he pulled a paperback from the shelf, and a sheaf of papers fell onto the floor. As he stooped and picked them up, he came upon lines written in Dahal Sir’s handwriting, which read: “Under the darkness, the maid started to caress her master....” A chill went up Sanjiv’s spine. Hurriedly he sifted through the pages and saw the trademark KP inked at the bottom. Holding the chunk of paper, he finally comprehended the phony world—all the while completing his rite of passage.

Published: 31-08-2014 09:37

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