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Waking up early and related sub-plots

As you are all aware, my grand father was a farmer-shepherd. My father interned as a shepherd before finding out that it wasn`t his calling and moved to farming. Farming involved getting up early and sleep walking to the fields two kilometers away, with two well built bullocks pulling you along.

Twenty days into farming, my father decided sleep was not something he was going to compromise on. So, he ran away to join the Military.

It is only these days that the kids don`t leave the first rope (read parents) till they find the second rope (read well paying jobs)… back then, youngsters didn`t mind letting go of the first rope even before the second rope was visible.

So, one morning my father decided to wake up early one last time…and walk 14 kilometers to catch a train to Madurai. The folks from the Army were hosting an Army recruitment drive at the Reserve Line Grounds in Madurai, and my father decided to try that out.

In his first attempt, he was selected for Military Intelligence. But then, somebody in the Army realized that Military Intelligence was an oxymoron and took him in, in the Electrical & Mechanical Engineering core (EME). My father would soon learn that there was no such thing as a Military Music either, but more on that later.

With no offer letter, no salary negotiation, no compensation break up, re-location costs etc…he agreed to travel to Bhopal in a train with other inductees into the Army. Things he took with him to Bhopal: One indigo colored nylon trouser (and he was wearing it), an industrial blue colored shirt (he was wearing this too), a Lifebouy soap, and a ten rupee note.

When he retired 32 years later, he was Honorary Captain – the highest designation you can get if you join the forces as a jawan.

Today he is no more, but when he was alive and kicking (me!)…he would say: “All this because I got up early that day. When you get up early, you can leave before the others spot you.”

Till now, we haven`t been able to figure out if he said this since he thought he was able to leave his village without any of the villagers spotting him because he had gotten up early …or he was a first rate philosopher and this was one of his philosophies.

Anyway, thanks to my father`s ‘get up early and win the world` mania…his three kids now hate getting up early. Though, they get up early.

Here is now he would go about waking us up on a typical weekday:

4.45 a.m.: “Rajan, get up…its morning!”
[Yeah right. Whom are you trying to kid? Let me sleep]

4.50 a.m.: “Come on son….get up…the sun is already up.”
[If the son is already up…why don`t you go trouble the daughters? Huh?]

4.55 a.m.: “I don`t have much time…come on get up. Or things could get worse.”
[You don`t have much time for what daddy? And what could be worse than being woken up at 4.45 a.m.?]

5.00 a.m.: “Do you know it is 5 a.m. already? Even the birds have got up.”
[5 a.m.? We would have never guessed! Thank you time keeper, now if you could excuse me please I have some sleep to catch up on.]

5.00 a.m.: “OK…now things are getting bad. Who wants water sprinkled on their faces?”
[Me! Me! Me! Yeah that`s what you expect don`t you. No way…give it your best shot…I am going under the pillow]

5.05 a.m.: “I have water in my hands….one…two…three…I am going to sprinkle now.”
[I curse you that you have a similar father in your next birth. For now I am going under the pillow.]

5.10 a.m.: “You might have escaped the first sprinkle…now comes the second. And guess what, I am going to pull the pillow off!”
[I get this feeling that you love it when we suffer. Can`t your office start from 5 a.m. onwards? ]

We moved from resistance to complete surrender in just 20 minutes. So effective was my father`s persistence. Had it not been for the fact that our father had to move between my single bedroom and my two sister`s double bedroom trying to wake us up…I guess we would have manage to resist for only ten minutes.

With time we became experts in sleeping with cold water sprinkled all over our faces. That was when our father increased the stakes. Here are a few of his ‘torture` techniques:

  • He would take a towel drenched in cold water and place it on our face & feet
  • He would play Bappi Lahiri`s disco music on our National Panasonic and keep it next to our ear
  • During the summer, he would switch off the fan leaving us to sweat it out of the bed
  • During winter, he would pull away the kilt and leave us to die in the cold
  • When we were in our village, he would tie us with a choir rope and lower us into the water in the well
  • He continued this till I was 15 years old. On the morning of my 15th birthday, I closed my eyes tight and waited to hear my father`s monstrous voice….but none came. During breakfast he said he would continue to wake my sisters till they were also 15 years old. Apparently, after 15 we were to know what was good for us and do accordingly.

    I somehow, don`t trust my father. I think his decision was driven by a conversation with my mother which I overheard a few months before I turned 15 years old.

    My father asked: “Did you like the way I work up Rajan by lowering him into the well?”

    My mother laughed her guts out and had responded: “At fifteen he will be 40-45 Kgs heavy…do you want to risk lowering him into the water in the well? You might pull a back muscle.”

    This post was written from 5 a.m. to 6.15 a.m.. And the author has no regrets.

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