When we were in school, a lot of lessons were learnt during the lunch break in the large playground of Don Bosco. Fighting for honour was common, so was fighting with honour. You never fought to break anyone’s bones but you fought to prove a point. Today after so many years, what we fought on is lost in the shadows of memory, what remains are the lessons learnt from them. We were an all-boys school so the lessons seem from another day and age where chivalry, honour and loyalty were all that mattered.
There was rarely a hit to face. The marks were the most visible and definitely the ones which would get the opponent at the receiving end into trouble when he goes back home. You also never hit the groins. The pain is unbearable and everyone knew it. That’s the first thing you learn when you play cricket and mistime a shot. The kick to the shin was acceptable and I do not know why because now that I am saner I know how scary that can be. But then now of us had the speed of the Premier League Players. We desperately wanted to play rugby but given that no one knew the rules and there was a lack of equipment, it never really took off. But what we managed was the shoulder shove, a highly effective manoeuvre that can come to use in both football and basketball. In the basketball games, it was brutal because of the hard surface. In the football matches, it was terrifying as the green grass left the signs for all (read moms) to see.
But the favourite by far was the punch in the gut. Never utilized on the games field, it was reserved for the one on ones that rarely happened, but if they did, they were always scheduled after school hours. It was the equivalent of a duel with a loaded pistol. Both shoot, but the one with the more accurate aim is bound to win. The punch in the gut was just that. Everyone knew that the one who could connect first would be the winner. It made one see the stars and the pain was only fractionally lower than a kick in the groins. The one who threw the punch always won, at least that bout. And then he helped the fallen man stand up on his feet. There was honour.
But the man who had fallen also learnt a mighty lesson. He learnt to take on whatever the world threw at him, embrace the pain, maybe double over if required but then find his own feet and get up. The punch in the gut made him stronger, over and over again till one day his own punch would land exactly where it was meant to be.
And as long as he had learnt how to pick himself up and become stronger, there was not a thing in this world that could keep him down.