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The Long Black Key (standard:Flash, 1245 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Oct 31 2010Views/Reads: 2502/1552Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Boyhood experiences of a boy in grade school.

The Long Black Key 


Subba Rao 

St. Anthony School was a place of conformity.  To protect the school
yard from roaming street cows and goats, wide shallow pit with metal 
grates were installed at the entrances. Stray animals wouldn't dare to 
walk pass the metal grate from fear of slipping. Even school children 
have trouble walking pass the metal grate since the space in between 
the steel bars were too wide.  Large Poinciana trees with its bloom of 
bright red flowers lined the entrance to the school buildings. Another 
entrance led to a large church, a picture of serenity. 

In between the high school building and the grade school was a large
play ground. At the center of the ground, a humongous Banyan tree, 
perhaps over a hundred years old with huge roots as thick as small tree 
trunk, grown down from the branches into the ground providing enough 
space for children to play hide and seek. Since the school was in a 
close proximity to the ocean, the ground surface was loose brown sand 
making it difficult to walk let alone run on it. 

Three was a small court yard in the center of the grade school with two
or three concrete posts with a distinct purpose and drinking water 

Juggernaut attended the grade school at St. Anthony's. He didn't like
it, particularly the morning Christian prayers.  During the prayer, he 
kept his head down and lip synch the song and faked right through it. 

During lunch break, some children played under the huge Banyan tree
while others indulged in sword fights using dried long pods dropped on 
the ground from the Poinciana trees. 

Father Naidu was the principal. The Father was a handsome man, tall with
bald head.  His skin was so fair, in his white garb he could be easily 
mistaken for a foreign missionary.  In his white robe, Father Naidu did 
his morning rounds walking through every class room, sometimes touching 
the head of a student with his palm as if giving some blessing.  A 
large metal ring carrying several steel keys hung from his waist, the 
one that get the full attention of all the students was a long black 
steel key. Students were at alert when Father Naidu was in the vicinity 
just from hearing the sound from the dangling keys like a wind chime. 

Almost all the teachers at the school were Christians with names so
different as if artificially made up. If it is Paul or David, one can 
understand, but the names were more colloquial and descriptive in 
nature like “Daiva Sahayam.”  Juggernaut understood the meaning of the 
name but couldn't comprehend that a person could have such a name. 

Small statues of Jesus Christ were placed strategically in the school.
After,  watching these statues on a regular basis, Juggernaut came to 
believe that Jesus was more a God person than Hindu Gods like Vishnu 
and Brahma, appeared unreal with more than two hands and heads, too 
much jewelry and unusual clothing, only  look good in movies, 
particularly when portrayed by  famous South India movie actor Ramarao. 
At home, a small statue of Jesus Christ crucified on a cross made of 
plaster of Paris was hung on the wall just above Gerard Gramophone, an 
automatic records changer that can play multiple records.  Every time, 
Juggernaut played records on the gramophone, he felt that Jesus was 
looking down upon him. One day he locked himself in the room just 
looking at the Jesus for a long time hoping Jesus would materialize in 
front of him as a result of Juggernaut's intense concentration. As 
nothing happened and all the records in the stack were done playing 
automatically, he realized that just concentration and devotion do not 
make a difference whether it for Jesus or Krishna, though Jesus was 
more human like. 

On some Mondays, Juggernaut felt like not going to school after lazy
weekend, he played sick. When he presented a letter from his father to 
the teacher, for his absence. “Your father wrote the letter like a 
medical prescription, I could never figure it out you know,” All I 
understand from your father's writing was your name somewhere in it,” 
said the teacher. 

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