I must admit, with mixed feelings that, I am an Aitchisonian. I have recently held that Aitchison College, hampered my intellectual growth, but it is not just this school, but all schools in Pakistan to this day are adept at stunting intellectual curiosity. In my opinion they are assembly lines for the production of individuals, who are instrumental in perpetuating the status quo. A sad truth.
So why do I choose to write about my time at this institute? Because I do not consider it a complete waste. Some of the most valuable lessons in my life come from my outside class experiences in Aitchison.
I expect Aitchisonians, especially those who passed through in flying colors, to attack me with vigor; to them I say: bring it on!!
Honestly, the most amazing individuals I have met are those who did not do too well in Aitchison, this puts me in the not so amazing people group. These individuals by not studying were able to engage completely with the institutional realities and have been the better for it. We were too obsessed with grades, sports colors, and prefectship to really appreciate life in Aitchison. In time I will write about some of these individuals.
In any case, for now I want to talk about the rites of passage, specifically, caning – the most important of them all. Let me state that those of you who have not been caned missed out on almost everything. Whatever arguments you put forth, consider them already rejected, I am not even going to provide a counter argument – so all of you out there who want to take to the rings with me on this issue, put your gloves down, consider the towel thrown in, you have been KOed: it is pointless.
There was never a time when I did not think about it; I would play out various scenarios, the common theme would always be defiance in the face of injustice – by that I mean simply standing up to authority. Teachers always put us down, in their opinion we needed discipline – it is something which is necessary, because you have to be trained to obey authority from early childhood, until, by force of habitm it becomes second nature to you – and they would always threaten us with corporal punishment. Well, caning is feared, and this fear leads us into conformity. But deep down I knew once I know what it feels like I wont fear it no more … and then would begin my life of independence, freedom from fear.
When it happened it was no where near as heroic as I had imagined. I was just unlucky. I was late for school. The headmaster Mr Bashir Akhtar, for some odd reason had on that day decided to cane everyone who was late. A chair was ceremoniously parked in the middle of the court yard and one by one we walked over, put our hand on the chair and raised our back sides. As I walked to the chair my legs started shaking and my palms got sticky. He brandished the notorious stick in the air and with relish brought it down … awww the pain, the numbness, or actually it felt like a hundred needles .. those who know, know, those who don’t – you have my sympathies.
In any case I walked into my class with my head held high. Gave high fives to others who had lost their ummm, lets say virginity, and the experienced campaigners acknowledged our transformation with appoving nods. I was in the league. From that day onwards a huge chunk of fear was caned away. I felt liberated and that is when true life in Aitchison started.
One last comment, it is all in the timing, too late is well too late. For me it was 7th grade, just about right!!!