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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.
Swami and Friends PDF Book by R. K. Narayan
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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.
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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. Swami and Friends PDF Book Download The Scripture period was the last in the morning. It was not such a dull hour after all.
There were moments in it that brought stirring pictures before one: the Red Sea cleaving and making way for the Israelites; the physical feats of Samson; Jesus rising from the grave; and so on. The only trouble was that the Scripture master, Mr Ebenezar, was a fanatic. He was known to be chummy even with the teachers.
No teacher ever put to him a question in the class. It could not be said that he shone brilliantly as a student. It was believed that only the Head Master could reprimand him. Swami and Friends PDF Book Download He was more or less the uncle of the class. Then there was Mani, the mighty Good-For-Nothing. He towered above all the other boys of the class.
He seldom brought any books to the class, and never bothered about home-work. He came to the class, monopolised the last bench, and slept bravely. No teacher ever tried to prod him. It was said that a new teacher who once tried it very nearly lost his life. Mani bullied all strangers that came his way, be they big or small.
Grammar was child’s play to him. His face was radiant with intelligence, though his nose was almost always damp, and though he came to the class with his hair braided and with flowers in it. Swami and Friends PDF Book Swaminathan looked on him as a marvel. He was very happy when he made Mani see eye to eye with him and admit Sankar to their company.
Mani liked him in his own way and brought down his heavy fist on Sankar’s back whenever he felt inclined to demonstrate his affection. He would scratch his head and ask where the blithering fool of a scraggy youngster got all that brain from and why he should not part with a little of it.
The fourth friend was Samuel known as the ‘Pea’ on account of his size. There was nothing outstanding about him. He was just ordinary, no outstanding virtue of muscle or intellect. He was as bad in Arithmetic as Swaminathan was. He was as apprehensive, weak, and nervous, about things as Swaminathan was.
The bond between them was laughter. Swami and Friends PDF Book They were able to see together the same absurdities and incongruities in things. The most trivial and unnoticeable thing to others would tickle them to death. His tone was as vigorous as ever, but in his denunciation there was more scholarship.
He pulled Baghavad Gita to pieces, after raising Hinduism on its base. Step by step he was reaching the sublime heights of rhetoric. The class Bible lay uncared for on the table. The Head Master glided in. Ebenezar halted, pushing back his chair, and rose, greatly Hurried. He looked questioningly at the Head Master.
The Head Master grimly asked him to go on. Ebenezar had meanwhile stealthily inserted a finger into the pages of the closed Bible. On the word of command from the Head Master, he tried to look sweet and relaxed his brow, which was knit in fury. He then opened his book where the finger marked and began to read at random.
It happened to be the Nativity of Christ. The great event had occurred. There the divine occupant was in the manger. The Wise Men of the East were faithfully following the Star. Swami and Friends PDF The boys attended in their usual abstracted way. It made little difference to them whether Ebenezar was making a study of Hinduism in the light of Baghavad Gita or was merely describing the Nativity of Christ.
Rajam was a fresh arrival in the First A. He had sauntered into the class on the reopening day of the Second Term, walked up to the last bench, sat beside Mani, and felt very comfortable indeed till Mani gave him a jab in the ribs, which he returned. He had impressed the whole class on the very first day.
He was a new-comer; he dressed very well—he was the only boy in the class who wore socks and shoes, fur cap and tie, and a wonderful coat and knickers. This Rajam was a rival to Mani. In his manner to Mani he assumed a certain nonchalance to which Mani was not accustomed. If Mani jabbed, Rajam jabbed; if Mani clouted, he clouted; if Mani kicked, he kicked.
If Mani was the overlord of the class, Rajam seemed to be nothing less. And add to all this the fact that Rajam was a regular seventy percenter, second only to Sankar. Swami and Friends PDF There were sure indications that Rajam was the new power in the class. Day by day as Mani looked on, it was becoming increasingly clear that a new menace had appeared in his life.
Granny expressed her approval of this attitude and then begged leave to start the story of Harischandra, who, just to be true to his word, lost his throne, wife, and child, and got them all back in the end. She was half-way through it when Swaminathan’s rhythmic snoring punctuated her narration, and she lay down to sleep. Saturday afternoon.
Since Saturday and Sunday came so rarely, to Swaminathan it seemed absurd to waste at home, gossiping with granny and mother or doing sums. It was his father’s definite orders that Swaminathan should not start loafing in the afternoon and that he should stay at home and do school work. But this order was seldom obeyed.
Swaminathan sat impatiently in his ‘study’, trying to wrest the meaning out of a poem in his English Reader. His father stood before the mirror, winding a turban round his head. He had put on his silk coat. Now only his spectacles remained. Swaminathan watched his progress keenly. Swaminathan felt glad.
This was the last item and after that father would leave for the Court. Mother came in with a tumbler of water in one hand and a plate of betel leaves and nuts in the other. Swami and Friends PDF Frank drank the water and held out his hand. She gave him a little areca-nut and half a dozen neatly rolled betel leaves. He put them all into his mouth, chewing them with great contentment.
Swaminathan read at the top of his voice the poem about a woolly sheep. His father fussed about a little for his tiny silver snuff-box and the spotted kerchief, which was the most unwashed thing in that house. He hooked his umbrella on his arm. This was really the last signal for starting.