Priceless Moments of an Isipingo Secondary Career
It is years since the incidents of which I pen took place, and yet it is with diffidence that I allude to them. For a long time, even with the utmost discretion it would have been impossible to make the facts public; but now that the principal protagonists are beyond reach and with due suppression the story may be told in such fashion as to injure no-one. It records a unique career of an Isipingo Secondary pupil. Creative license has not been employed as I am sure it will be admitted that the singular events narrated are far stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.
English : It was a hot, humid day with the stench of the friendly neighbourhood garbage dump soaking the air. Concern for the melancholy of Thomas Hardy’s “Mayor of Casterbridge” during English ranked even below getting a few cuts at the hands of the headmasters cane. A plot had to be hatched to make the class bearable. Hence, during the break a couple of no-gooders (or do-gooders, perspective all depending on which end of the chalk you were) broke it to the rest that the gentlemanly stature of our English teacher, a certain Mr. M.U.Pillay, would be the target of our delightful excursion into frivolity. It goes without saying that no coaxing was required to get everyone on board once the finer details of the plot were revealed. The following sequences the tragic (well, from the teachers’ point of view anyhow) set of events that transpired :-
“Sir, it is such a hot day today. Why don’t I tell you a joke to make you feel better?” asked our hero innocently.
With a raised eyebrow, the teacher looked down at him curiously, suspicious of the pupils noble intentions and wary of the poison chalice being offered. But since the class conspiratorially echoed the scoundrels calls, he was left with little choice but to acquiesce.
“Well, get on with it then, we can’t be wasting too much time,” barked the teacher impatiently.
“Well, Sir, what happened is that one day a man went into a restaurant and ordered a bowl of soup. When the soup arrived he noticed that there was a fly in his soup, so he called the waiter and told him, ‘Waiter, waiter, there is fly in my soup’,” related the pupil, to which the entire class burst out laughing. At first the teacher wore a puzzled expression trying to figure out what had provoked the pupils into stitches. This lonely thought left him feeling somewhat foolish in the face of the overpowering mirth that now resonated through the class, and his expression quickly metamorphosized to amusement and finally graduated into laughter. This however was the punch line we were eagerly awaiting and only served to increase the volume of our jollity by several decibels.
Finally, once muscular spasms threatened the pupils sides did the din subside somewhat, and out of pity it was decided to enlighten the poor teacher.
“Sir, actually there was no joke, we just wanted to see your reaction once we started laughing our heads off at what was obviously not funny,” explained our hero.
Not to be outdone, the teacher replied unconvincingly, “Well, actually I knew that, and I was laughing at you lot laughing at nothing.”
“Yeah right, Sir, you expect us to believe that? Face it, we had you,” shouted the class in unison to the now grim faced teacher.
Afrikaans : The last period on Tuesday afternoon was dedicated to the subject and as usual, few had attempted their homework, and even fewer completed it. After many such fruitless encounters with her class, Mrs. Sadayan finally decided that anyone who had not done their homework would be detained after school, and to enforce this authoritatively placed her diminutive figure at the class entrance allowing only those with completed homework books to leave.
A fellow slacker and myself exchanged glances, looking like rats caught in a trap. What was to be done? There was no way out! Or was there? As soon as the teachers back was to us, we jumped out of the window and ducked down low to avoid being spotted. We then bolted to join the main procession of pupils down the stairs and out of school to freedom, laughing and boasting to all at notching up another successful coup.
Our efforts did not go unnoticed however, as a teacher from the lower block witnessed our escapade and accosted us the following morning. We were duly reprimanded, smirks were wiped off and homework had to be completed. C’est la vie, you can’t win them all!
Mathematics : It was Std. 9 and we were appointed a new maths teacher. Eager to show us who was the boss, he whipped around from the chalkboard at the first sound from the class, waving his fist and threatening unspeakable bodily harm to anyone who crossed his path. The entire class stared at him, unsure whether to be horrified or to burst out laughing. As it turned out, the latter reaction was the appropriate one for he was quite the inadvertent comedian.
Armed with his considerable fund of disparaging adjectives, often we would be treated to complaints of the headmaster, with the odd expletive thrown in for good measure. However, whenever the headmaster came by for a word with him in the corridor, the roaring lion was tamed into a most genial kitten. Murmurs of agreement to the effect of “Yes headmaster”, “Very good idea, headmaster” and “Leave it to me headmaster” could be overheard. None of this magical transformation was lost on us, and he would enter the class only to find us imitating the banter between himself and the headmaster. The sheepish look on his face just opened the door for his critics demanding an explanation as to the sudden change in attitude.
“Oh, he came to see me on a very important matter, only something that I can help the school out with,” would be the unsatisfactory reply.
“Way to go Sir, you showed him whose boss all right!” chuckled some pupils sarcastically.
“Uh, oh, errr …, OK, that’s enough of that, and by the way, have you lot completed your homework?” he spluttered trying to regain the upper hand, still reeling from this stinging attack.
Wise to this manoeuvre, a tried and tested tactic was deployed.
“Sir, what is the solution to Exercise 4.5.1? I tried it all of last night and I am sure you are the only one who can solve it,” quickly chimed in another pupil stroking the teachers ego.
Our hero then waded in with the teachers favourite topic, “By the way Sir, I like your new BMW. Does it have a 2 litre engine?”
The teachers lips broadened into a thin smile thus ensuring that the final nail in the coffin of the detested subject of homework had been sunk.
“Well, you see, it is actually a 2.3 litre engine ...,” he nattered on and with a sigh of relief we sank bank into our chairs happy to be entertained by the irrelevant details of his pride and joy for the umpteenth time. All in all, satisfaction was the order of the day as we had had a good laugh and wasted some class time.
Physics : “Who is going to bell the cat?” That was the dilemma we were faced with during break one morning. A double period of physics laboratory work loomed ahead and our no-gooders had to once again devise a plan to liven up the lesson. For some inexplicable reason, the trick of the month turned out to be pinning long paper tails stripped from chart paper to the rear belt loop of a persons trousers. Naturally the teacher, a Mr. P. Naidoo, was going to be the victim of our pleasantry.
We all gathered around the laboratory desk and the teacher to witness his enthusiastic demonstration on endothermic and exothermic reactions. It was at this point that the scoundrels in question all looked at one another waiting to see who would muster up the courage to carry out the deed. And just as the age old tale expounded, muscular dystrophy attacked the scoundrels at the very last minute.
Our hero, sensing his comrades’ spinelessness gallantly took up the mantle and deftly tagged the teacher. Giggles and chuckles ensued as the unwitting teacher paraded through the class still elaborating on the fundamentals of chemical reactions with the paper tail trailing in his wake. It was enough to leave one in rolling in laughter. Soon enough he began to wonder as to what was the cause of the class merriment and managed a nervous smile. Surely, chemical reactions can’t be that funny he wondered and thought that it may have been something that he said.
Just when the class thought that they would get away with it, he spotted a pupil staring at his rear and the game was up. Pierced by the black ingratitude of the very class he was trying to imbue with knowledge, down he glared, complicit guilt etched on the countenance of every single one of them. Tensely the class waited for him to rant and rave at this latest transgression. In that instant his fiery eyed look belied his inner analytical calculation of the wider implications of his own reaction. Making a scene would only be giving vent to frustration and the miserable creatures were bound to repeat some other act of mischief.
Coolly he removed the tail and continued with the lesson as if nothing had happened, leaving us with the guilt trip. Score one for Sir! Well, at least we did learn that his reaction was most certainly endothermic.
Biology : It was a fairly pleasant afternoon with a double practical in the Biology laboratory. Organ study was the topic and the teacher, a kindly Mrs. Y. Chinsamy, presented us with sheep kidneys, livers and hearts for dissection. Our incorrigible hero, though not a subscriber to the macabre could not resist a page from its book. He together with a fellow rascal decided to disgust the girls by playing ‘Catch’ with the sheeps heart. ‘Eauw’ was the natural reaction from the now green faced females. I am sure that even the patient nature of the teacher would have been tried if she had witnessed this act of morbidity.
Geography : Friday afternoon was a double dose of Geography. Our portly teacher, a Mr. S. Govender, had neatly written our notes on the chalkboard expecting us to quietly copy it into our notebooks. However, this stage of the week unsurprisingly tended to infect certain pupils with sudden bouts of ADD. A particular fellow, Pratish by name, a bit of mischief being his game, decided to convert his Bic ballpoint into a pea shooter.
Sure enough, the teacher became aware of his excellent aiming skill from the annoyed protests of some of his targets. An example had to be made resolved the teacher. He quickly jumped up, ruler in hand and headed for the culprit. Now to set the scene in perspective, it must be illustrated that the culprit in question was at the time sharing a double desk with his austere girlfriend. As cuts from the ruler rained down, the culprit felt gravity overtake his joints as he ducked under the desk, down to his girlfriends dainty feet. Such was the determination of the teacher to restore the natural order that not even the desk nor the culprits girlfriends legs could shield him.
Whilst the hapless fellow was laughing crazily under their desk, still trying to dodge the teachers ruler, his beloved turned several shades redder, a look of unadulterated embarrassment crossing her face. With affections plummeting as fast as the culprits descent to earth, wishing Scotty would beam her up, thoughts were then directed to the tirade that would sear the poor culprits ears during the walk home from school. Of course, not for the misdemeanour of pea-shooting but rather the felony of embarrassing her in the process. I would rather walk naked among lions.
Such were the days, and such were the antics of an Isipingo Secondary pupils career that filled them with joy.