That intimation from the school in the capital, must have come on a day, as ordinary and yet filled with the excitement of the growing years. It must have been brought to your attention by your father or mother, as you came in, muddy and disheveled after an evening’s worth of game in your neighborhood playground. He would have probably called you to the living room, and with equal parts of pride and paternal seriousness in his voice, would have matter-of-factly told you that you have got through the Nation wide Sainik School entrance test, and that you should be joining there.

The realisation would have slowly sunk in in the next couple of days. It would became as mysterious, dark, dismal yet somehow curiously exciting, if you had been a child, growing up in your warm comfort zone of your loving parents and siblings, with your every single childhood issue, addressed, resolved or taken care of. This was going to be different.This was going to be way, way different. From what your limited faculties could process and gather about the ‘Big, Bad, Wide World” (read more education), you were going away to this residential school for the next 7 years, away from your comfort zone, away from security and general fun.

You would be managing every single activity connected with yourself, on your own, right from combing your hair to washing your clothes to even tying your shoelaces. As the grim realities slowly unfolded, the excitement at some point became mixed with dread, and together formed something so heavy and grim that lay like a millstone round your neck, and to your surprise, seemed to gather a little weight with every passing day.

There is frantic shopping, trips to the local tailor, getting to know new terms like”Oxford pattern Shoes” which you run through your head, a couple of times, swirling it inside like fine cognac. You are happy that you would be wearing one pair of those, soon. You are amazed at the detailed description, down to the last sewing kit that is a requirement with the rest of the stuff, amused as to what you would be doing with a needle and sewing thread in the first place!

There is a set of uniform for every part of the day, for starters. And a different kind of shoes with each. What kind of deranged people think this stuff up, you wonder.

And before you know, the day arrives. And mayhem.

PS. Do you still remember the day you came to know about getting into SSKZM? Share!

10 Responses

  1. Well, I was rather pushed into the ‘sainik’ world by an ambitious father who wanted his son to be a ‘fauji’, albeit the starred variety. but ‘papa ke kehne se koi fauji nahi banta’ and my destinies lead me elsewhere. However I still remember the long shopping list clearly. A metal trunk gifted by my uncle who was with the BSF. (Still preserved in mint condition with the 2014. Its sight sometimes makes me nostalgic, some time frightens me. Especially when I see the trignometric pattern of a theta in the ‘0’) Let alone ‘oxford pattern’ even the basic shoes of different kind was something extremely fascinating for a village bum like me. I shall never forget the cloth markers called ‘fabric paint’ for which we scourged the village town of Palakkad and never found.

    Our beloved leader ‘Beji Mathew‘ had to over dilute the paint of Gopi/2012 to mark our roll numbers on our combined possessions. the ‘AIR BAG’ (most people would think it to be Nike product/ or car accessory now a days) were more like Bajaj scooters in its range, limited with double l,i,t &d. With a thin budget and lot of effort my father was able to complete the list. (thanks to Gopi’s dad for ‘fabric paint). Years have gone by, much water has flown under the bridge, I am a father myself, but I will never get to do it again (god blessed me with a couple of the fairer sex for posterity) the list and the shopping remains fondly in memory, albiet with a bit of melancholia.

    1. Dear Sanjeev,
      I really, really wished I had kept my school-trunk ( I ‘donated’ it to our House Attendant, who went by the rather quirky term of House Sweeper). And it was Bejy’s batch which sponsored the 2011 OBA Reunion. Am sure he would be delighted to read your warm note.

      Reconnect with him here

      … Biju

      1. Yes, really. I cannot recollect this specific event but i can recap many of your batch mates.
        Bejy (1652/1986)

          1. Dear Leader,
            Where are you now a days. I once had the opportunity of having a glimpse of you at the Kaloor bus stand way back in 90-91. I wanted to get down to catch up with you from the bus I was travelling in, however couldn’t respond fast enough and was spirited away to my destination by the superfast service between alwaye and ernakulam. Hope to catch up with you, if you are still in Cochin, on my next vacation..

  2. I am not sure how many people remember this. There was a documentry about sainik school on DD (the only TV station in those days by the way) when I was in 5th STD (1983-84). I was a student of sarvodaya Vidyalaya (TVM) at that time. It was that Documentry that got me hooked. I remember by parents wondering what Sainik school was when I announced that I wanted to study there. The decision to join was entirely mine, my parents played along. I found a sir to help me prepare for the “entrance”. The biggest tension was that I had “knock knee” and if I would clear the medical test. Well, I got through. The shopping list was a bit weird. Why would you need a hockey stick? Well like many thing that has happened since, there were no explanation or rationalization forthcoming. So I went out and bought a “Vampire” hockey stick (there were only 2 brands worth buying in those days. I dont remember the other brand name). I must be the only “hockey player” in school who does not have the customary stitches in the head to show off for those days.
    Another distinct memory of mine is with the white shorts and blue shorts and how the mysteriously became loose after a few days in school. Then you had to take it to the tailor to have them refitted. After the vacations they became a bit tight again but then you knew that all you had to do was wait for a few days. I am still not sure if it was the PT or the depression that caused the weight loss in the initial years of school (6th and 7th) or maybe a combination of both.

    1. Dear Rajesh,

      Oh Yes! You think the shopping list was only a bit weird? 🙂 That documentary that you watched on TVM DD was called Target NDA, with one of the crappiest title montages ever to have been prepared for a documentary in the planet. And the other band of hockey sticks in the market, which was way too expensive was the Slazenger 🙂 The Mysterious case of the Cadet’s Waistline has always been tradition I guess. And you really really wish for it as you steal a glance in the mirror now, don’t you agree ? 🙂 Thanks for sharing . Means a lot.

  3. Biju,
    i always remember the way you used to describe CCJ’s entrance to your drawing room.
    a button tensed up due to the relentless thrust of a beerbelly would enter first followed by the belly and then the man himself ….
    our one and only……
    childhood days …. the description was fun…

    I suppose later on Sir had gone onto become the principal in Navodaya and did well for himself.

  4. For me, it was free will, Psu, also CCJ played a part in introducing the School, when he met my Father on one of the “Johnny Walker Memorial Get-togethers” in Abudhabi, while he was on a visit. And I didn’t mind either, it was just transfer from one boarding school to another..

  5. On the contrary, I have this question to my batchmates and even to other batches- How many of you came to Sainik School because you wanted to and against the will of your parents? I am one! I had to fight my mother’s extreme pain to send his son to an unknown (to her) world. My father was always supportive. It was my sheer ambition to become a fighter pilot that burned a passion in me to join the Sainik School.
    However in the middle of the year in 6th std my dream was shattered when the doc declared that i had myopia!
    In spite of my enthusiasm to join the school, i remember how much i cried the first day when my dad left me with a heavy heart and man, the weeping went on for months! Then there was this totally opposite story, from the 9th std onwards, of how much i used to miss the school when we separated for our vacations.

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