School keys – 2

The kunji was slim, and so to hide it on one’s person and carry it to the examination hall was not a big challenge. But there were some intrepid fellows who took on mightier mountains. I remember a fellow who smuggled the state-prescribed physics book into the exam hall. And that was a real tome, some five hundred pages or so. If I remember right, it was authored by Harnam Singh, perhaps co-authored, for it was fondly referred to as ‘four authors’. Now, the invigilator  who happened to walk the aisle that day had the habit of bending his head suddenly, and our young intrepid student thought he had been caught and he blurted a sudden ‘sorry!’. The invigilator woke up to the unsolicited confession, and dived to find out the sin. And there it was, in the drawer of the desk. The huge tome itself! Even he was shocked!

‘Copying’ was a fine art those days, a parallel education passed on by tribal elders. Bit papers with finely calligraphed subject matter were exam-keys for many a student. There was even a name for this ‘bit-paper-meant-for-copying’. It was called a ‘Furraa’, and I dont know if that word is found in the Hindi dictionary. Furraas were kept in geometry boxes, socks, shoes etc. There were some tribal elders who knew the art of attaching these to a rubber band tied to the shoulder, so that it could be released from the palm, and shot back into the sleeve, when danger was spotted. Oh the slings of David!

And it wasnt just the boys who used ‘furraas’. I remember this girl who was caught with a ‘furraa’. And she fainted when she was caught. ‘A’,  she was a girl, and ‘B’, she had fainted. And so she was let off on ‘compassionate’ grounds. Well that would have been fine, except that she brought in a furraa the next exam the following day, was caught again, and she fainted again!

Lets now come to the term ‘ee adichaan copy’.

I asked a few people about the etymology of this colorful phrase, and heres what I heard.

Exams were on. Student ‘A’ telescoped his vision to look at the answer sheet of student ‘B’ sitting in the seat ahead of him. Now, there was a house-fly sitting on the answer sheet of student ‘B’. Student ‘A’, who was very exact in his copying, thought that the fly was a part of the answer, and so caught a fly and pasted it in his answer sheet too. A fly is called ‘Eee’ in Tamil. And ‘Ee adichaan copy’ means, he copied the ‘fly’ as well!

Which brings to mind the famous Hindi proverb – ‘Nakal mein bhee akal honee chahiye’ – “Even to copy, you need some intelligence’…

5 Responses to “School keys – 2”

  1. ramji Says:

    We used to be taught hindi by a teacher…whose name i donot recollect…but remember that we used to refer to her as HMT…acronym for Hindi Moti Teacher…in honour of her considerable girth!
    She gave us a dictation quiz one day…and my benchmate…let us call him S…did a ee adichan kappi from me!!
    S then quickly went upto HMT and got his quiz evaluated…and I followed a few minutes later…after he was done.
    HMT gave me a look over and the next minute her palm made a stinging contact with my cheek…and she thundered in her stenatorian voice-
    “Nakal maartey ho to akkal se maaro karo!”That was in 8th Std at DTEA!

  2. Srinivasa Says:

    Was she Pushpa Awasthi? Her husband was Shri Ramanath Awasthi, program dir in AIR New Delhi’s Hindi section. She was an out and out Hindi patriot – she disliked Nehru, she only liked Lal Bahadur Shastri etc. She would have prefered Allahabad or Lucknow as the capital of India etc etc

    Anyway, Kamesh you have not included some important points about kunjee’s – like famous publishers, their motto etc

  3. gkamesh Says:

    Sriniji

    Pls tell us about publishers, motto…

  4. Srinivasa Says:

    One of the most distinguished makers of kunjee’s was of course ‘Nand Lal Daya Ram’.

    Their motto was ‘ईमानदारी सबसे बडी चीज़ है’. In their English kunjee’s, the motto read ‘Honesty is the best policy’. It was printed on every kunjee prominently on the cover page right above the title of the book, in a dark box. You couldn’t miss it. Once the Hindi speaking Sir in our school, O P Sharma (?), hit a hapless boy on his head with the kunjee while confiscating it, pointing to the motto “यह क्या लिखा है, हैं”? He was well-versed in the ways of the world.

    Still I never understood what that motto meant until I met a Haryanvi philosopher in college who threw light on it. Commenting on the motto, he said that ‘कह्ते हैं इस्त्री अनर्थ की जड होती है। इसका मतबल यह थोडी न है कि हर आदमी उमर भर कुँवारा बैठे. He had a fund of Akbar Birbal jokes, I remember, and used to subtly take Akbar’s side while narrating them.

    He was a true ज्ञानी. He had taken the standard route to Enlightenment which was available in those days to promising Haryanvi youth. A year my senior, he had gone to Chandigarh to do Pre Medical, was unsuccessful in getting into Medicine. He had then joined my class – plain ol’ good for nothing Physics Hons.

    My sense was that the motto served the same purpose as the warning on cigarette packets. हर आदमी को अपना वे आउट खुद निकालना पडेगा.

  5. gkamesh Says:

    wah! wah! taaliyaan! thanks srini for the great response!

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