Friday, April 6, 2012

Sensei

A couple of days ago in the market, I saw a boy in a karate uniform complete with white robe white pants and an orange Belt. It took me back to my own Karate days and my Sensei. (Yea, I have attended Karate Classes. Dropped it after a year but that's another story :)). I was around 9 or 10 at that time.
'in the form of a Karate Teacher'
One day there was a new sensation in our otherwise laid back colony where we used to stay. And this sensation was in the form of a karate teacher. I asked my father if i could join fro the classes and was overjoyed when he agreed. Sensei (Japanese for teacher) had around 25 students (if i remember right) among which 5 -6 were girls and the rest were boys.
I remember him as a pleasant man. A bit to the shorter side, a little dark with a thin black beard in his jaw. He was Calm and disciplined. He rarely raised his voice in anger but a single glare from him would be enough to bring any own to line. Every other morning, around 6 - 6:30 he used to take classes in an open shopping center which had a huge central lawn. The classes would normally go uninterrupted except the days when the loafer and his friends would come to hoot us.
The Loafer. How much I loathed him.  He and I went way back.....
(Ahem by way back i mean two or three years.)
A lot of changes were taking place in my life that time. My elder sister had started behaving very weirdly indeed. Suddenly some games were too kiddish for her. She was refusing to do so many fun things with me; she even refused to go to the park with me. So what if she had become 13. I had become 8 too. I didnot stop going to the park just because I was one year older. Her friends were not going to the park, she said. Friends?? Friends?????? Was i not enough? Did I not share my dolls? Did we not always play together till now? Was I not enough?
I reproached. (Very good at melodrama....indeed I was. I still am)
One afternoon, with all the reproaches and guilt tactics and promises of the wonderful times that lay ahead, I dragged her to the park praying fervently with all my heart that the park would be filled and that she would have a wonderful time so that she would return to the park.
My Hopes shattered when I saw the deserted park. In my excitement and fear that she may change her mind, I had dragged her to the park way too early. No one was there.  Only the loafer (around 16-17 of age at that time  i think) was there with his friend. I was determined that my sister should have a wonderful time. Unfortunately for some reason, she seemed angry at the loafer. He winked at her and was saying something...
Ah, now I understood. He was making fun of my sister because he could wink and my sister could not. After all shutting just one eye while keeping the other open and that too so effortlessly was no mere feat , I tell you....No wonder she was angry. I will show him. (I got to know later that she had not even noticed the two boys!!!!. All my analysis was a waste :( )
"Why are you laughing? Tell me" - Courtesy THE hubby
"Look at me ", I called out to him. “I can wink too".
As soon as he saw me winking at him, he fell down backwards with a mock rapture clutching his heart and his friend started laughing. Warning bells rang. I felt confused; still I went to my sister and said to her.
"Don't worry JB. I showed him. I winked at him too".
"What” She yelled. "We are going home right now."
I was alarmed, I did not understand. First the loafer, now she!!!!. Both did not behave the way I thought they will.  She marched me out of the park clutching my hand and then to my utter mortification she started giggling uncontrollably.
"Why are you laughing? Tell me" I was distressed.
"You winked at him. hahahahhaha" My sister was laughing till we reached home.
She never came to the park with me after that.
HE was responsible some way, I knew. I was trying o show my sister a good time. He spoiled it. I would have succeeded in bringing her back if it was not for HIM.I hated him. I hated him with all my tiny heart,
And now he was spoiling our karate classes too.
As I said earlier Sensei was a calm person. He preferred to not mind them. But the more he ignored them, the more became their interference. Once or twice, he would ask them to shut up but one day the loafer gang was a bit too much.
Sensei told us to keep practicing the new moves and went to confront them. He took them out of the complex and we don't know what happened after that. After some time Sensei returned. He looked flustered and disturbed. "Is everything ok, Sensei?" Someone ventured to ask. “Yes yes, don't worry. Continue your practice" He said and after sometime dismissed the class.
That day in school, rumors blazed. Someone had seen Sensei talk to the gang.  Apparently Sensei went to meet the loafer in his locality later. No respectable people went there. What had happened???? Will there be classes anymore?
'Nothing seemed to be any different'
There was. Nothing seemed to be any different. But 10 min into the class, who should come in but the loafer!."5 rounds around the complex". Sensei ordered. We all had to do the rounds for warm-up session once we came to the class. Why should the loafer do it? Why had he joined the class? Somehow there was something different about the loafer that day. Gone was the brazen attitude. It was almost as if he was afraid of Sensei. The next class he came in his karate uniform.
At first the students felt uncomfortable. But as time went on, even his presence became normal. Sensei began taking 10 min breaks and started leaving the loafer second in command. Sensei said the loafer was responsible for us. At first the loafer seemed a bit confused but slowly he changed. He started looking respectable (if you know what I mean). Children began warming up to him. And slowly the loafer changed to Raju anna (brother in Tamil). He was friendlier and somehow seemed more ok than before. I was less inclined to like him. But my friends convinced me he had changed. When he stuck for us children when his friends tried to bully us he tried to make things better for us, despite the peer pressure, I relented.

After some days he and his friends opened a small cable shop. Much to the relief of everyone around. He seemed to settle down.  I don't know what happened to him as we left the colony that year itself. I don't know if he changed back owing to peer pressure. The locality from where he came was quite notorious in those parts. I don't know what happened to my Sensei too.
However nowadays, whenever I see some kid in a karate uniform, I remember my Sensei. I remember a teacher who tried to better a life.


PS: Extremly thankful to hubby for making these sketches for me. He is the best!!!!!! (for me i.e)

6 comments:

  1. I like your story. I thought it was great that your Sensei could include the Loafer and help him to belong. Your husband did a great job on the sketches. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Marcy. To tell the truth i was more excited about his sketches :)

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  2. You're a great writer and your husband's sketches are great,
    together you made a wonderful post!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Wish you both a great weekend.
    Mette

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  3. Thank you Mette.
    My hubby says Thankyou too :)

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