The street to which Triple B’s gali opened can be seen in the last image above. From there it went straight to his school that’s in the first image above. Pandey Haveli area came after Sonarpura, just before the school that lies in Bengali Tola area. The second image shows a section of the large compound and house in the middle, just before the school. There used to be a motor garage in the compound that I never saw functioning.
The wall of the compound ran with that of the school up to the back of the school, and made a very interesting spot by the side of the library and the classroom before it where there used to be a narrow kaccha gallery, overgrown with weeds and grass in all seasons. The walls of the old compound by that gallery had long thick pointed nails cemented along its whole length to prevent the trespassers from entering. The distance between two nails was less than the breadth of an average human sole. Therefore, it was quite impossible to make a grip with feet there. Impossible; not undoable (as the great Sean Connery had said once).
We used to wear slippers to school, many of us on many days, as there wasn’t any footwear code annexed to the dress code. The school dress was white shirt and blue pants, and we had to wear it. That’s were the uniformity among the students ended. They used to wear shoes and chappals of various varieties to the school. So, we, the chappal wearing boys, dared to stand between the long and pointed rusty nails. We even walked maneuvering between them, when the sponge balls with which we used to play hand cricket used to fall into the forbidden compound.
I remember my white Bata chappal with blue strap. I was not the only one who used to wear it to school. There were many others too. Walking on the sand and dust strewn ghats in chappals with feet sweating under the summer sun has side effects. It’s definitely a better option than shoes and socks, but the layer of grime between one’s chappal and sole, that is actually a solidified mixture of one’s sweat and the sand, makes it very uncomfortable. Even that is nothing in comparison to walking in search of a hand pump that functions with cow dung filled in the same space. Bull shit (literally) is even worse due to its thinner and sticky nature. I have experienced both, and want no repetition at all. It feels really bad: every step of it. And what a relief when a functioning hand pump (chaapa kal) comes in view. There are very few things in the world that can be compared to the after-washing relief.
There was a time when Triple B used to drink water from any hand pump in his city, although he was not the one to consume Gangajal or water from the various natural springs. I mention it because now he can drink only filtered or bottled water, no tap or hand pump water for him. I remember how he had gone from Kasi to Surat and from there to Guwahati via Nagpur and Kolkata, drinking water at any railway station tap. He won’t do it for anything today. Change happened. It happened to him too.
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