Rohini Kejriwal (ISC 2009) is an accomplished journalist, blogger, and generally amazing person. This piece is taken with permission from Down The Road, an “exciting and eclectic collection of short stories that brings out all those memories – unforgettable, warm, thrilling, and at times embarrassing – of life in school and college campuses,” edited by Rohini and Ahmed Faiyaz, and published by Grey Oak Publishers.
“Be quiet or Akka’ll come and catch us,” said Alisha, peeping out of the Box Room door and checking if our Houseparent’s light came on. Her light being on meant that our noise levels had risen beyond the permissible point and that she had been woken up from her beauty sleep and would now come to the source of the noise to scold the ruckus makers. Tonight was not one of those nights when it was only the noise that we could get into trouble for. A Maggi party was in session.
Making Maggi in a boarding school is an illegal but sacred act. You must know exactly what you are doing—who is going to cook it, who is heating the water, who is cleaning after the act of consumption takes place, and who keeps the deodorant at hand, the precautionary measure to get rid of the smell in case the houseparent comes to do her rounds. There are big bowls in which evening snack is given. Someone clears out the contents of one such bowl, washes it, and hands it to the cook. The cook crushes the ‘n’ number of cakes of noodles (‘n’ being a variable for the number of people present), and pours the proportionate amount of hot water which is brought from the solar water tap. The bowl is covered with another plate and left to semi-cook.
After ten minutes or so, the water is drained out, burning the hands of the one draining it, the masala is sprinkled over the prepared noodles, and after the cook mixes it with her hands, everyone digs in! The consumption is almost always done with the hands since spoons have to be flicked from the Dining Hall (DH) otherwise. The person who washes it usually gets to lick the bowl clean of its masala before washing. Quite a treat, I assure you! In the end, the deodorant is sprayed and the fan is left on and everyone returns to their rooms as though they were in no way associated with any illegal incidences that day. Sadly, too many people got caught keeping illegal foods and no one practises such nights anymore.
This Maggi Party was unlike others in the past. It was the last one as school students. A few hours back had been our Farewell Night. The Farewell Night, as always, was during the middle of the Board exams for some and almost towards the end for some of the Science students. It was on a Saturday so that no one was worried about an examination the next day. The girls were in beautiful sarees in varying hues of blues, greens, oranges…The boys were either wearing tucked in shirts or kurtas. In a few days, the 12thies would have to vacate the classroom we had gotten so fond of and head out into different parts of the world, pursuing our different dreams. Some knew which direction they were heading. Others could only hope that they would stumble upon their paths soon.