After having some how passing out the 10th standard (S.S.L.C), we got into the junior collage. It was the 80’s. Those days you needed to be an Engineer (Civil, Electronics) or a Doctor to make the money for buying imported VCR, Cameras etc.
We got pushed into Pre University classes (P.U.C) and it was Science stream since Commerce was for lesser mortals and nagh, don’t talk about that stupid Arts – anybody can get a degree there
So it was PCMB combination – Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology.
Collage was a new kind of fun for us. We discovered that attendance from morning to evening for all periods of the day is not compulsory. This made us to skip English language classes. Off course we have studied that stupid English for 10 years, what more could be there still? An exception was for Lakshmi madam’s class. Not that her teaching was interesting but her stunning looks for the boys and matching exterior decoration for girls had a full head count.
Physics & Chemistry was the same boring stuff. We decided to take care by year-end.
Mathematics was not my favorite at all. My mother had declared – he is week in maths. Little did she tell the world he is week in most of the other subjects too.
Zoology and botany were the hot subjects. Not the professors were good looking or the subject was easy to understand but the subject was new to us. We attended in full stream and speed. Particularly Vani madam’s class
Vani madam was slightly built, cheerful, smiling – those pearly 32’s and always had a good way of putting across things. She also happened to be our lab in charge. Some how the first 3-4 months passed peacefully – From phylum coelenterate to phylum mollusce.
All we had to do was write down the pictures of these co-biological brothers/sisters into a big book called lab practical. Vani madam based on her moods used to award 7,8 and sometimes 10 marks for such drawings. We used to see all the dead animals live in Lab since there was no National Geography those days.
Suddenly one-day vani madam announced. All of you get dissection sets for next Tuesday’s lab – we have some “hands on experience there”. Gang and myself ran to the near by Kaplana stores in N.R colony.
Like we had compared, exchanged words on our camlin geometry box in 5th standard, we did the same once again with those beautiful scissors, tweezers, holders et all.
Doomsday arrived. All of us assembled in the zoology lab. Vani madams high-pitched voice rang out – “boys and girls let us first go through quickly the anatomy of cockroach”
We sat and listened for 20 minutes, the marvel of this stupid insect. After the mandatory any questions – we wondering why we should know anything about that lowly creature, including its digestive system, kept saying no questions.
Vani madam declared. OK all you go to the respective benches. There is a tray for each one of you. Careful it’s filled with water. There is a wooden mount on which the specimen for dissection should be pinned – lest the specimen decides to take a walk.
All of us like master surgeons – not knowing what’s going to happen opened our dissection boxes and waited for rajoo. Rajoo was our enterprising lab assistant who between bringing breakfast and jamoon for Head of Department also helped us in lab sessions.
Rajoo came quickly and kept the specimens one by one which was a small closed box and gave the thumbs up signal for vani madam to take over.
Vani madam ordered us to open the specimen boxes and mount it with round pins – the type used to keep two-piece of paper together.
Eeeek came the sound from 2nd bench. Thud – something fell hard. Madam rang out the shrill voice of Anu. All heads turned around as if some thing came alive.
Rama was lying unconscious and was leaning on Anu – who was hanging on to dear life by clinging on to the fashionable big broach on the head of Rama.
What happened girls? spurted vani madam.
Its – Cockroach, its there in my speciman box. I opened it and it just ran out at high speed on to the hands of Anu and in shock she has fainted madam.
With a masterly twirl of hands, madam plunked a good amount of water on anuradhas head. Slowly she opened here eyes. Suddenly aware what had happened asked in a meek voice “where is the cockroach”.
Madam vani in her best motherly approach chastised the boys so that it would give some time for girls to get back their composures. Boys – today’s specimen is a cockroach. This needs to be dissected.
Here let me show you the demonstration first, after which you can do it yourself!
This is just the beginning. You are aspiring to be doctors. How will you do post mortem on a human being then? You need to dissect frog and leech this year she declared in one statement.
Half the class decided to switch over to Commerce, as it had no such dangers involved.
The horrible things were sleeping by induced chloroform. After making faces and trying to show off that we are boys, we held the damn thing by tweezers and put it on the mounting board.
Chloroform has a wonderful sleeping effect when ingested and effect stays on for hours depending on amount of dosage. One week point of this liquid /Gas is – if water is given in plentiful, you are awakened.
Exactly this chemistry worked out between our cockroach and the water in the mount. Eek my cockroach just ran away said a voice. Rajoo came in with bottle of chloroform and said with disdain “Tsk tsk… please start cutting the cockroach. As you cut it dies and doesn’t need any more chloroform”. Rajoo declared from 4 years of experience and admonished us out of vani madam’s earshot.
We even today wonder how we can cut a cockroach, which is running away. This earned lots of brownie points for vani madam who demonstrated and cut the bugger in half.
This cut our egos too and we never made any more wise decisions regarding vani madams teachings.