That year the school administration decided that the forest above school be cleared, burned and be converted into fertile land for cultivation. I exactly don’t remember if the land turned fertile but students surely worked. Every Saturday a group of students were sent to their respective gardens allocated by the head of the agriculture department (which to my honest memory was called SAP) to work. Of course the school invested a lot of money and bought tools to be used in the garden.
Slowly, since the time doesn’t hurl itself, the once a thick forest where even deer dwelled now the signs of human civilization showed up. Students started growing pumpkin, radish, maize, cucumber and lot other vegetables as well. The principal declared that it (the agricultural work) would enhance the students’ knowledge on agriculture and would also supply fresh vegetables to the school mess.
I am not sure if the gardens supplied vegetables to mess or not but it did supply some crops and vegetables to the hungry boys staying in hostel. Soon the school administration noted that students particularly border boys were stealing cucumber and maize from the garden, roast them and eat and hence it was not allowed for students’ to enter the garden on other days except Saturdays. Since then only few students had the guts to enter the garden and when caught, one was made to work in the garden.
Sometime in the initial days of the second term of the school, the school was to celebrate its golden jubilee. The preparations were going on a full swing. When the next day was scheduled for the celebration, we were called in the football ground for rehearsals. But the captains were asked to get poles for the flag of their houses and also to prepare a banner each and to help them, all the captains of different departments were also sent. Since I was also a captain I was about to set into the jungle to get poles when a friend of mine nicknamed Pandu, suggested that the teachers were busy in the preparation and we should go and get ourselves a good cucumber from the garden.
“just last Saturday I have hidden a growing cucumber in the bush, by this time it might have become fat..” he said. “No one will see us” he added
He was right. It was time to treat ourselves with a fat cucumber. Since the garden was situated almost 500 m from the ground and there were administrative building between the garden and the ground, it would be impossible for the teachers to see us. Hence we got into the garden and as Pandu plucked the cucumber I explored the garden for more cucumber, just then the emcee at the ground who was our chemistry teacher shouted on mic “the two boys who are in the garden, come here!!” damn! Somehow he had seen us. Just as he said this we fled the garden leaving behind our fat cucumber and went into the class and hide there.
Minutes later the principal came in the classroom with a thick stick in this hand. My heart sank in fear. I started sweating. My reputation of being a sincere and responsible captain that I had gained with my good deeds in his presence would go down the drain. Worst I would get melding of stick upon stick on my butt. I would be known to the rest of the teachers and the school as a cucumber-thief. I was doomed. I had marred my repute. I looked at Pandu, he seemed lost in the realm of remorse.
But then, “Have you seen the two boys who were in the garden?” he asked.
“No sir” we replied in union and confusion.
“Tell me if you, later, know about them. And what are you doing here? Go and get poles!”
We nodded and he left. We laughed at each other.
Thanks to our sincerity that we had shown all along the year, we were not suspected. However, in the evening when dark crept in we went back to the garden and had the cucumber. Of course now we earned it, didn’t we?