THE STORY OF LEVELFIELD




ENGLISH CLASS

‘Bring out your sentence homework,’ I say.

This is one of the few conventional stuffs that we do – students have to write sentences using the words given.

‘The first word is - absorb. Anybody has a sentence on it?’

Sohom raises his hand. His enthusiasm never diminishes, no matter how many bad sentences he writes.

‘I absorbed the lizard which was walking on the classroom wall.’

The class erupts into hoots of laughter, shrieks, screams. ‘That’s observe, Sohom, not absorb,’ I say. ‘And it is evident you observe lizards on the wall, rather than listening to the classroom discussion, otherwise how could you write sentences like this?’

‘Well, next one - extravagant - who has a sentence on that?’

Absolute silence.

‘We did not understand the meaning of this word,’ Tanu volunteers to explain, bravely.

‘Well, you are being extravagant when you spend excessive amount of money for something.’

‘Like the Shah of Iran, who used to take bath in milk?’ asks Rituraj, always the first to connect issues, apply concepts.

I talked about the Oscar winning movie ‘Argo’ once in the class, and talked about why Iranian people were furious with the Shah because of his excessively luxurious ways.

‘Yes, yes, but it was not the Shah of Iran who bathed in milk, but his wife.’ I corrected.

A torrent of comments.

‘But why would somebody like to bathe in milk? Won’t it feel sticky?’

‘Yeah, and she would smell funny!’

‘I want a WC which uses milk to flush.’

This comment takes the class to a frenzy of imagination - a bathroom where there are separate buttons in the WC, giving you various options for flushing, one with milk, and another with Pepsi.

‘Why Pepsi? I like Coke!’

‘You are not going to drink it, it’s just for flushing!’

‘Well, well,’ I find it difficult to stop the flurry of comments. Raising my voice over the din, I say, ‘Well, such a bathroom will be called an extravagant bathroom.’

‘Shah of Iran did one other thing - he supposedly got his lunch flown in by concord planes to Iran - such a thing can also be called extravagant.’

‘That day we saw a picture in the newspaper where a politician was wearing a garland made of 500 Rs notes,’ Rizwan says, ‘such a thing may also be called extravagant.’

‘Correct,’ I say, ‘now let’s move on. We can’t be learning only one word during the whole class.’