The story of B. D. Monappa by Raja Ravi Sekhar.
Parts of this story are true and some have been made more interesting to hold the attention of the reader. Many of my chess students, especially those aged between 6 to 10 have heard this story many times over and enjoyed it a great deal too.
Sometime , maybe close to 1967 , I was a student of the 8th standard at school , where we used to have a History teacher by name B.D.Monappa , judging by his name , a gentleman from the Coorg region of Karnataka then known as Mysore State.
B.D.Monappa was a strict taskmaster and a stickler for discipline that he enforced with a long steel ruler. Students found wanting in discipline would often find their knuckles getting sharply tapped by the strong side edge of his greatly feared steel ruler. I was one of the very few students of our class who had managed to avoid getting rapped and zapped by him .
On one fine morning during his period , Monappa announced that he would be going to the toilet , presumably to take a leak . Just before leaving the classroom he issued a strict warning to us all . None of us were to leave our seats or wander around to chat with others. We were to stay put in our seats and keep staring at our History text books or else we would be punished badly. (You know how and we did too).
Monappa left the room and we could hear him walking , stomping his boots down the corridor . The sound of his boots grew less and less till there was silence. "Aha" Monappa has entered the toilet , we thought and rejoiced . The moment there was silence , we all became jubilant and started drifting around , chatting with others -
Several made plans for seeing a matinee movie as it was a Saturday half day - Some were eagerly yakking about a cricket match and many of the girls were going ga ga with their usual platter and chatter - I was no saint and went over to talk to my friend about cycling as I used to cycle a lot all around Bangalore - (The Bangalore of 1967 was quite green with lots of lung spaces , less buildings and cold enough that most people wore a coat or sweater ) My friend by name Joseph Lawrence had agreed to meet me the next morning and nodding my head I was staring vacantly at the wall opposite (Many people are in the habit of apparently looking at something but thinking about something else - Some are not listening to you but thinking about something else - In such cases the actual experience does not register - Very few can keep up such simultaneous operations-)
To my horror I could see a small hole in the wall through which a single eye could be seen spying on us - The eye was looking at us through thick glass and I had little difficulty in guessing the identity of the spy eye - The dangerous Monappa was known to wear spectacles with thick lenses and I quickly realised how he must have pulled it off - Monappa must have pretended to walk down the corridor to the toilet , while remaining near our door all along , just stomping his boots up and down with less and less force , timing it out till silence - A very tricky use of the scientific Doppler effect by the History professor but not funny at all for us kids -
For awhile I just froze , not knowing what to do - RRS, I thought . for that was what people often called me, your goose is cooked and you are going to get it today , good and hard from Monappa's ruler , maybe for the first time but it's sure gonna hurt -
All the other children around were quite oblivious to the danger and went on chatting while I stood still , not knowing what to do - The sound of Monappa's heavy boots started off again and this time the sound kept increasing in volume - Only I knew that wicked Monappa was standing right next to the wall and merely moving his feet up and down to create the effect that he was on his way back -
As the sounds of his approaching steps grew loud all the children scampered back to their places - I went back too and sat down but with a heavy heart , thinking all the time about the impending punishment -
Ahem! Monappa cleared his throat aloud , standing just outside the door , giving time for any wandering students to safely get back to their places and pretend to be still - The door opened and Monappa came inside - The iron ruler was in his right hand and he slapped the flat side of it against the palm of his left hand , quite relishing what was going to come - Monappa took a good look at the entire class, his eyes going over the rows of benches - He expected everyone to be in their places but only I knew that he knew a lot more -
So! quipped he - "All the children who left their seats , stand up" loud came his voice - I did'nt want to be punished twice , once for leaving my seat and again for not admitting it and so without thinking much further I stood up - After a few moments I was horrified to realise that I was the only one standing up - "Of course" I thought , none of the others knew that Monappa had been spying on them all and so all were taking a chance that he could not find out - Only I knew that he had seen it all and I had gotten up without thinking much about the others -
Slowly Monappa wended his way over to my bench and thundered " show me your hand " - Trembling all over I stretched out my right hand , expecting all along to get several "shocking" tingles as soon as his dreaded ruler would come swiping down - Imagine my great surprise when Monappa tucked away the evil ruler under his left armpit and stretched forth his right hand - I found my outstretched hand being vigorously pumped up and down as Monappa proceeded to shake hands with me and declared loudly "Well done, my boy , you are the only truthful student in this whole class" , you may sit down now - "Whew" I thought but aloud I said "Thank you , sir" and sat down quickly lest he should change his mind -
Monappa turned around , furious with the rest of the class for not owning up their guilt - "You , you and you" his ruler swung around , pointing unerringly at every one of the children who had left their places - "Stand up on the desk" - "Lift up your right leg and keep standing till the period is over" - After a few minutes one of the boys could not "keep it up" any longer - He put his right leg down and lifted up the other one - Pat came the ruler , catching him on his knee that went "clong" - Awoo! the boy howled but Monappa went on "Lift up your right leg - Paining eh? Serves you right for disobeying me!" - Thus ends the story of B.D.Monappa and his dreaded ruler - I think I was a bit lucky to escape that day from his clutches and sort of keep up my "unbeaten" record !? -
Footnote by RRS : During 1966 - 1970 I was a student of " My Institute" which was located at the intersection point of 11th cross road and Link road at Malleswaram in Bangalore - It also had a kind of branch or auxiliary buildings further up 11th cross towards Vyalikaval on a side road - Sometimes we had to shunt to and fro between periods - I was there from 7th to 10th standard , learning both Hindi and Kannada from scratch - I used to see many movies in both languages and carefully observe the dialogues - With the usual repetition and a bit of guess work my vocabulary in both languages went up very quickly - Our class teacher was S. R. Shama Sharma who used to take Maths and Science classes for us - SRS as he was called was the typical young man , fresh out of college and burning with idealism to reform the world - I gather that he joined Canara Bank later and ended up in a senior position in their subsidiary concern Can Fin Homes . Our biology miss , the fair and beautiful P. R. Sita , who used to stay on 6th main 11th cross , resembled the actress Pandaribai . I also remember Sulochana miss , Sundari miss who took English and B. D. Ashok too. Our principal was called "Shri Krishna Bhagavan" which sounded rather unusual but was quite true and he took English classes now and then . Shri.Mani was our correspondent with a peon by name Yellappa. Among my school mates and class mates I recall - S. S. Ravi who is now Professor in Computer science at the State University of New York at Albany - K.G.Venkatesh whose dad was probably one of the partners at Venus Hotel opposite Triveni theatre in Majestic , was fair and tall with palms that kept sweating all the time - Venugopal , son of a doctor at Chamarajpet and he used to come all the way by bicycle - Velayudham , whose folks had shops selling kumkum on 8th cross Sampige road Malleswaram - S. M. Joseph Lawrence , originally from Jalahalli whose dad Mr.Manickam worked there , presumably in the Air Force - Kalavathy was a beautiful girl , fair and quite brainy too , coming from Yeshwanthpur - Madhavaraya was a hefty and rustic sort quite popular - K.V. Nagasimha , fair and thin , came from somewhere near 10th cross down Link road in Malleswaram - Jagannath was right on Link road close to 8th cross - Maheshwar Mukherjee was a close friend of mine and his dad Brijeshwar Mukherjee was some kind of ground training instructor at the Air force base in Jalahalli - His elder sister Eva Mukherjee was a few years senior to him and we got to see her whenever we went to his house in Jalahalli quarters - Vijaykumar was an orthodox looking Iyengar boy , quite fair and tall , wearing white and white most of the time - Seemed to come from Seshadripuram and had relatives at Malleswaram - Krishna was an Iyengar boy too coming from Link road close to 5th cross - Gopalakrishna was a hefty looking local Kannadiga boy - Kini was fair but very short and lived close to the school - We had girls around like Sudha , Kusuma , and someone better known as the malayalee dame , pretty well endowed as is wont with young girls from her province - Pradeep was around and so was Wilson , quite senior looking and might have been close to seventeen , who said he drove autorickshaws - If I remember right there were two girls called Malathi , one rather glamorous , living somewhere on the heights between Link road and Sampangi road between 13th & 15th crosses - The other Malathi looked a bit plain and lived right on Link road close to 9th cross but could sing very well - She was often called upon to sing the then popular "Dhoni saagali munthey hogali doora theerava serali" which she did very well - I admired her a great deal for that but never told her in so many words - Well , I've put down whatever I could recall - I do hope that some of you , who are no doubt still around like me , would get to read this , at least by accident and get back to me - Send me an e-mail for old times sake - RRS -