I was studying in class seven in the Government Upper Primary School, Puthuvely. (Please see ‘The Uniform’ for another incident which happened while I was in the same school.)
Preparations for the anniversary (annual day function) of the school were under way. One of the items proposed was a play staged by the students. The play was written and directed by Joseph Sir, who used the pseudonym J. Ramapuram (Ramapuram being the name of his native place). The name of the play was Ariyappetaatha Sathyangal (the unknown truths). A sort of ‘audition’ was held for those students who were interested and willing to take part in the play. This was done on a Saturday, when we did not have any class and the school was closed. Several of us joined the chorus. Joseph Sir asked us to act a small portion and deliver a few dialogues. He, of course, ‘directed’ us, or told us how to do it. I was one of the lucky ones who got selected. Wow! Jump! Hop! Shout!
I do not remember the whole story. The play had six scenes. I had two appearances, in the first and last scenes. In the first scene Jose (the name of my character) is a student and it is revealed that he has failed in the SSLC (10th class) examination. Jose’s father is very upset and scolds his son. Dejected, Jose runs away from home. Curtains to scene one.
Jose appears again in the last scene, which is supposed to be taking place after several years. I remember that I was wearing the same shirt in both the scenes (as a student, and as an employed man returning after several years)! The shirt was arranged by Joseph Sir, because he thought I should wear a larger shirt. In the second appearance, I enter the house with (an empty, but supposed to be quite heavy) suit case in my hand. My sister Leela (enacted by Mr Abraham, my class mate) runs to me and the long-lost brother and sister embrace each other lovingly. I ask her about father. Leela tells that he had passed away several months ago. Jose becomes unconscious from the shock and falls onto a bench. Leela runs inside, brings a glass of water, and sprinkles on her brother’s face to revive him.
What had actually happened was that in each rehearsal Abraham only acted sprinkling water without even having a glass in his hand. But this time for originality, he actually brought water and springled on my face. (It was a cold night and the time was around three in the morning.) That was quite unexpected and I suddenly giggled!! It was not a very silent movement. The spotlight was on my face and everybody watching the play noticed movements and the giggle of an unconscious man! Remember, he had become unconscious from grief after hearing the news of his father's death! You can imagine the possible response from the large audience! I could not face Joseph Sir after the play. ‘Leela’, of course, apologised to me later on, but the damage had already been done.
The next day I heard that Joseph Sir said in the other division of our class (there were two divisions, A and B, for class 7) that I should be kicked on my back with such force that I land only at Veliyannoor, which was the next village, where my home was located.
That was my first stage experience.