Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Of Brown paper covers and School days
Those unique Brown Paper Covers with which we used to cover our school notebooks. And the Sticker labels - ah!
Once the brown covers were put over the books… edges neatly folded – then was the turn of the various sticker labels that had to be pasted on top… to tell the world who does this Book belong to! The stickers had different characters drawn on them - from colourful cartoons to He-Man to Tom & Jerry etc.
First was the choice – involving very careful selection of which sticker label should best suit which notebook. Once that decision was reached, then with great precision… you were to get the placement of the label right on the cover. Sometimes the non-conformist streak in few would prompt rather edgy/angular placement of the label… Sometimes using the lower left corner… Anything little innovative… thoda different… we thought to ourselves.
After that came the part where you were to fill all the details… (some of us blessed with elder siblings, who had or at least thought they had neater hand writings…were deprived of this pleasure, in my case… with my scribbles… I took great pride in passing the honours to my father…)
Name: Hardik Mehta
Std: III Div: A
School: Students Academy
Last night, I happened to read one of the finest books of Rohinton Mistry and it took me to that world of mine - when my Parents used to take me to buy the books for the new academic session. I precisely remember that come first week of June and we used to head to this shop outside Malad station, East side - The shop was called Bipin Stores.
I happened to check a few days back and it still stands tall… with all its stationeries and various books… Actually now it seems to be oozing stationary actually – its loaded itself with so much stuff in the same dimensions of fifteen years ago Bipin stores - like it could explode of stationary!
Once the New Books were brought - the storewallah used to promote the new Brown Paper covers and the Cartoon stickers - saying:
"These days, it is compulsory for students to cover the notebooks with Brown paper cover, just yesterday two students from your same school bought it"
Thus we had no choice but to buy them. But my parents always had a different idea for things. That day, my parents told me that there is no need to cover the books with the special Brown Paper, we can always use the old Calendar sheets - especially those Bank Calendars which were of no use once the Year had gone by. Those Calendar sheets were huge and every Month, if torn out carefully, they could be used to cover at least 2 notebooks.
Amazing it was - they showed it to me: November covered my Science & History and December covered my Geography & Mathematics.
But in a fast changing world, covering your books with Calendar sheets was looked down upon… esp. when there was this beautiful Brown paper made available exclusively for covering the books.
Now in the middle of the academic session starting from June - the brown paper would breath its last, somewhere near December and then till April, the front few pages of the Book too would come out - thus giving both the book and the user the assurance – it was used often and served its term well!
Actually the condition of the book would determine how much the student has used/spend time with it (playing cricket with the rolled up book was a way too ☺)
I still laugh at this memory.
Back to the story, so when I saw my classmates with all their fresh Brown Paper covers on the first day in third standard, I immediately summoned for the Brown Papers… I spelled out the clearly the demand to my Parents.
Infact my classmates even knew how to cover a book by cutting the exact size of Paper from the huge Brown Cover Sheet. I never knew how to do that. (There are a few things I still don't know: eg: tying a tie, ironing clothes, Folding my full sleeves collared shirts etc)
My Parents had to help me in covering the notebooks with Brown covers. I didn’t even fill the sticker labels. I thought my father's handwriting was beautiful –each alphabet formed like a pearl and he obliged by writing on the labels.
One fine day my bench partner saw the label on the Brown cover of my Book and asked me:
"That handwriting on the label is not yours, whose is it?"
Without much ado, I said - "Its my Fathers"
The next thing he asked: "From which place did you get this brown covers ?"
I said: "Bipin Stores"
He said: "Same pinch"
Same Pinch I tell you - June is coming in a few days. Time for children to buy those books and those Brown Paper covers. Am sure the labels will have IPL players on it. And now am told the huge brown paper sheets are eating dust in the back stores of the book shops –fancy water proof sheets custom sized for notebooks have come in…
This note… in memory of those unique Brown Covers with which we used to cover our school notebooks. And the Sticker labels - ah!