I first heard the scream of my angry uncle who had burst out at me after seeing the marks on my report card. I was 13. The only thing running in my mind was my violent uncle ram’s face. He is a fair, tall and strong man with his mouth filled with paan juice. Often he would stare at me as if I had stolen someone’s kidney! My father had been out of station for some purpose. Uncle ram took the responsibility of looking after me for a fortnight.
“Sharan!” he exclaimed.
“You are going to SAS”, he told.
“SAS!”, I was puzzled.
I thought that he would have given me the punishment, like the one that is given in hell. I could hear the yama dharma laugh with his brown rotten teeth and say
“Guards! Cut him into pieces and put him in the gravy. Ha! Ha! Ha!”
I shook my head like my dog raja would do.
“What the heck is ‘SAS’?”
“Are you teaching me abbreviations?”
And a series of irritating questions I put to my uncle.
‘Silence!’ he broke out.
‘SAS means sada shanthi yathra, which is the best place for you to go. It is under the guidance of Sri Hogeswamy. It wasn’t the best place to go. I wasn’t sent for the trek as usual, but to dogs!!!
There were more fans of Hogeswamy rather than the followers. Hogeswamy had a European PA with a basket of fruits in her hands. Basically, in the ashrams, it is supposed that the life is very simple. But here everything was going exactly the opposite. The guru’s wore the traditional kurta with jeans, took bath in showers and used deodorants!
I often heard that the food in the ashram was very simple such as ragi balls, ragi malt and rice etc;
But I was shocked when the person had served noodles in my plate. Yes! Every evening, we would have been served noodles with ketchup and an orange juice (not fruit juice but flavored). The noodles which were served by them were very fascinating. It would have been prepared before half an hour, when we students assembled. Then it is cut into pieces of cake. The noodles were very sticky, hard and pasty. We had to use a knife and a spoon instead of a simple fork! Some of my friends over there had got irritated and ate the noodles by hand (some would mix up the Sāmbhar which was a great taste according to them).
We had to wake up early at 5’o clock even before we heard the rooster. One morning I could hear the screams and uneasiness everywhere. Then I went out to check what the chaos were. I was nuts driven when I saw the holy head shaving ceremony!!! A half an inch of hair exactly in the middle of the head was left for no reason. Now, it was my turn. I didn’t feel any pain, but got irritation. Later I was made to apply the paste of sandal. Now I looked exactly like a modern day pundit.
There were no separate beds for us. We had a dormitory with no toilets. Who comes first could occupy the ground; meanwhile the others had sit in a corner with their eyes open and sulk around. There was no entertainment encouraged there. No TV’s, no PS’s, no mobiles etc; quite boring compared to the teen life. I don’t mean that we totally depend on these. None were interested to do their daily chores, they were admitted to the ashram from their parents ‘encouragement’. No one cared to wash their clothes; as a result my one dozen of under pants were stolen.
Finally, the last day had come and my parents appeared in front of me after a 10 day long wait. Yes, I hate this place like hell, but the lesson that I learnt was parental love. I could no longer resist without them. I often can’t control tears when I think of orphans. That explains how lucky we are. They don’t have any pleasures in life, but still they are happy.
The only thing that I tell you that, life is very precious. Don’t miss even a moment of it. Time passed once cannot be gained again.
So, treat each one of them with love, respect and harmony.
Schoenstatt st Mary’s school
Please note: all the characters in the story are fictions and do not resemble to any person.