An edifying afternoon

 | December 26,2011 03:31 pm IST

The Love Detective Club was inaugurated one hot afternoon, when there was nothing more than a Work Experience class in school, to while the time away.

And the WE class was a major pain, to put it mildly.

Some girls with crafty fingers got their round stitches and cross stitches right; but for Edward Scissor hands like mine, I ended up with huge loops and wild curves that made the delicate Ms.Shirley shudder in horror.

" What is this, if I may ask."
She, of the delicate fingers, enquires politely looking at my pillow cover embroidery.
We were supposed to 'do' parrots.
I preferred that she understood from subtleties.
The pillow cover looked pathetically at us, one green parrot staring balefully out of it.
It looked green, at least that part was right.
My giggling best friend, my namesake, had opined that it resembled a bird who had committed suicide, two days before. So much for hangman's knots.
" For someone who can sketch, you are terrible with stitches", Ms.Shirley says and with a great sigh, sets to unravel the feathery mystery that I had assiduously knotted together in the previous half an hour.

And while she re-created the bird, I went back to my friend group. Someone had got 'Lovelolikas' from home-purple , rounded salted fruits for eating on the sly!

It was in that lazy period, as I munched into gorgeous purple love, that Edel Roberts, having stitched two parrots cooing cozily from one branch, put forth the idea of the Love Detective club.
It turned out to be the most intellectually fruitful afternoons of my memories.

'Nominations for Hon. Life time President?"
As five girls collapsed in stitches, the visions of Sister Vimala rose up in smoke to stand witness to our unanimous choice.

Sister Vimala hated Romeos and Juliets. Unfortunately, in our Co-ed school, we tripped over Capulets and Montagues with great frequency. They would be everywhere-in the class rooms, near the bus stands, in the play grounds. All of them were identified by the singular properties of the element of love in the chemical periodic table.

They exuded goofy smiles, they looked around with smug superiority when snot faced kids like us walked by, and they sighed loudly in literature classes when poetry was taught. Also, mark the litmus test, they all uniformly turned pale when they encountered Sister Vimala.

'Hundred lines Susmita.." I have come to school to study and not waste my time'.'.In Malayalam copy book and you can get it signed by your father by tomorrow.'
'Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art though Romeo?'
Romeo, a dashing Muslim boy, had been subjected to rather brutal gender bias. He had got caned in the lateral periphery of his body. He also had to carry Sister Vimala's copy books- from three classes, totaling hundred. Besides, his mother got to sign his imposition.

Another incident, that made the Reverend Sister suitable for life time Presidency, was her peculiar nose for smelling scandals.

" What is inside your Chemistry book, Serena?' she had asked, sniffing like a blood hound, as that angelically pretty girl, slipped her love note into a sulphorous experiment within it.
Soon the smell of rotten eggs had floated around as the tender beauty was made to kneel down, her sweetheart looking as if he was Spartacus, hanging in a cross himself.
The evidence of the note, was whisked to the sides, by helpful classmates; the raw and boiling fulminate remaining in Sister's she admitted that fifty two students were a little too many to fight singlehandedly.

' Life long President-Sister Vimala", anoints Edel. She almost pricks her fingers with a revolutionary flourish.

And while we were ruminating on the Secretary ship-opinions oscillating between the harsh faced Neanderthal History sir and the walrus mustached Physics sir, who were bound only by a common hatred for love, someone asks..
" Has Sister Vimala ever fallen in love?"
The edifying nature of the afternoon was yet to begin.


" The basic hypothesis", says Edel Roberts, tucking her spectacles firmly onto her long nose," Is that all these love detectives are frustrated ".
Edel was good in Maths.
Mini TA, of practical wisdom and literary affiliations, grins.
" The whole tribe of teachers?"
She has a point. Her mother is a teacher too.
" Aunty is not frustrated -she packs such lovely pickles", I pitch in. One cannot forget the hand that feeds one. Usually I ate Mini's lunch.

" Asha in that corner, can be a case study-do you think she is crazy?"
Five girls look at Asha intently. She certainly seemed to deserve a check-up.

Asha is singing to herself, staring at a picture of Mammootty. Occasionally she giggles in answer to the teasing of her friends.