Swami And Friends by R K Narayan

Swami And Friends by R K Narayan
From the book

It was Monday morning. Swaminathan was reluctant to open his eyes.
He considered Monday specially unpleasant in the calendar. After the
delicious freedom of Saturday and Sunday, it was difficult to get into the
Monday mood of work and discipline. He shuddered at the very thought of
school: that dismal yellow building; the fire-eyed Vedanayagam, his classteacher;
and the Head Master with his thin long cane. ...
By eight he was at his desk in his 'room', which was only a corner in
his father's dressing-room. He had a table on which all his things, his coat,
cap, slate, ink-bottle, and books, were thrown in a confused heap. He sat on
his stool and shut his eyes to recollect what work he had for the day : first of
course there was Arithmetic—those five puzzles in Profit and Loss; then
there was English—he had to copy down a page from his Eighth Lesson, and
write dictionary meanings of difficult words; and then there was Geography.
And only two hours before him to do all this heap of work and get
ready for the school!
Fire-eyed Vedanayagam was presiding over the class with his back to
the long window. Through its bars one saw a bit of the drill ground and a
corner of the veranda of the Infant Standards. There were huge windows on
the left showing vast open grounds bound at the other extreme by the
railway embankment.
To Swaminathan existence in the classroom was possible only
because he could watch the toddlers of the Infant Standards falling over one
another, and through the windows on the left see the 12.30 mail gliding over
the embankment, booming and rattling while passing over the Sarayu
Bridge. The first hour passed of quietly. The second they had Arithmetic.
Vedanayagam went out and returned in a few minutes in the role of an
Arithmetic teacher. He droned on monotonously. Swaminathan was terribly
bored. His teacher's voice was beginning to get on his nerves. He felt sleepy.
The teacher called for home exercises. Swaminathan left his seat,
jumped on the platform, and placed his note-book on the table. While the
teacher was scrutinizing the sums, Swaminathan was gazing on his face,
which seemed so tame at close quarters. His criticism of the teacher's face
was that his eyes were too near each other, that there was more hair on his
chin than one saw from the bench, and that he was very very bad-looking.
His reverie was disturbed. He felt a terrible pain in the soft flesh above his
left elbow. The teacher was pinching him with one hand, and with the other,
crossing out all the sums. He wrote 'Very Bad' at the bottom of the page,
flung the note-book in Swaminathan's face, and drove him back to his seat.
Next period they had History. The boys looked forward to it eagerly.
It was taken by D. Pillai, who had earned a name in the school for kindness
and good humour. He was reputed to have never frowned or sworn at the
boys at any time. His method of teaching History conformed to no canon of
education. He told the boys with a wealth of detail the private histories of
Vasco da Gama, Clive, Hastings, and others. When he described the various
fights in History, one heard the clash of arms and the groans of the slain. He
was the despair of the Head Master whenever the latter stole along the
corridor with noiseless steps on his rounds of inspection.

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