With this one I’m back to my school days. 11 wonderful years in Bishop Cotton School, Simla.
This yarn has its origin probably in 1957, a couple of years ahead of me being despatched to the boarding school as a snivelling little tyke. In that year one of the little 5 year olds, P.S.Gill, having been bunged off to school by his parents landed feet first in the Linlithgow dormitory. That tiny dorm, under the watchful eye of Mrs Goss the motherly matron, was home away from home for 9 months of the year for all the 5 and 6 year olds who had been parcelled off with the fond hope that eleven years down the road, having by then been moulded into becoming responsible adults, the tiny tots would be ready to be let out into the big bad outside world.
A habit not at all an uncommon one in kids of that age, the young Gill unfortunately was a bed wetter. Cruel and playful as little kids are wont to be, the little fellow was immediately christened as ‘Piddly Gill’. A ‘title’ he smilingly accepted and one which, the habit having been left behind years ago, stayed with him all the way through his 11 years in school.
Piddly having completed his schooling in 1967 and having gone off the radar was for me, two years his junior, a forgotten person.
Now I’ll fast forward the tale to sometime in 2005 or possibly 2006.
While my Mum had relocated to London, but since Kitty’s parents continued to be residents of Simla, a visit to the town was an almost de rigueur annual feature. It was on one of those visits while ambling down the Mall Road that I spotted a tall Sikh gentleman walking towards me from the opposite direction. In one of the increasingly rare occasions when I recognized someone and could actually put a name on the person. Feeling pleased as punch and with as wide a grin as I could muster, I walked across to the gentleman and in my most innocent tone of voice said “You’re Piddly Gill aren’t you? While we were both in Rivaz House, you probably wouldn’t remember me because I was two years your junior”.
The gentleman pulled me towards himself and very patronizingly draped an arm over my shoulder while at the same time steering me around so that now we were both walking in the same direction. His arm on my shoulder very gently slid a little further till I felt my neck being tightly gripped with the pressure building up and becoming rather painful.
“What’s your name”?
“Gurrinder Singh Khanna”
“Ah yes, I remember you now”
“I’m only going to say this once so listen very carefully. In this town if you ever again call me by that name I’ll have you locked up in the clink and have the keys thrown away”!
All I could blurt out was a hurried ‘sorry’ before extricating my neck from his tight grip. Moving away from him I stumbled into the shop on the Mall owned by the Sud brothers, both Cottonians. Walking up to Dinesh I told him that I had just met Piddly Gill.
“I hope you didn’t call him by that name”
“I did and was quite taken aback by his reaction. Said he’ll have me locked up”
“I’m telling you, you’re damn lucky you got away so cheaply”
“What do you mean”?
“Arrey baba, Gill is the Inspector General of Police of Himachal and a very respected persona in this town”
That’s me! For years altogether been afflicted by a very severe and incurable case of Foot in Mouth Disease!!!