Authored by: Rama Krishna L; Notion Press.Com, Chennai; 2022; ISBN: 979-8-88629-261-9; xiv+221 pages; Price: ₹299/-
“High school is what kind of grows you into the person you are. I have great memories, good and bad, some learning experiences and some that I’ll take with me the rest of my life.”– Giancarlo Stanton
On the same wavelength as the above reference, high schools play the most significant role in everyone’s life. High school time is the decisive transition period wherein one discovers himself or herself. Such a discovery is very significant for the rest of one’s life to ensure to live up to one’s expectations by not trying to be someone else.
“Rambo: 7 Seasons At Sainik School,” is not only the story of a Saikorian but also of every individual who passed out of high school — in a husk, a story of you and me! Consecrated are a few who could do schooling from any of the thirty-three Sainik schools that form the comity of India’s premier educational institutions, administered by the Sainik Schools Society under the Ministry of Defence. Apart from imparting Military oriented education to the cadets, these schools have a few other objects like removing regional imbalance; developing qualities of body, mind and character; and of course, bringing public school education within the reach of the common man.
The first chapter of the book comprising a total of eighteen chapters begins with the revelation of the family background of the author that hails from Kondrapole village in Nalgonda district of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh (present-day Telangana). In the same chapter, the author narrates his admission to the Korukonda Sainik School. Stirringly, within a few hours after his spending on the school premises, the author was named the “Ring Leader Ramakrishna,” by none other than his housemaster. This very incident brings out the fact that the author enjoys his salient freedom of who he really has been — his trade in reality for a role. In the same chapter, the account of the food in the hostel mess and sharing the pickle of a friend among all to leave the bottle empty within no time, makes the reader go back to their school/hostel days.
In the succeeding chapter, the author introduces us to the character of “Bampu,” through another character named Paparayudu, an immediate senior of the author. Besides, the reader also gets familiarised with such nicknamed characters as Tokada and Kaddi. Of course, one more important character Sparrow along with Daku will join the list in the latter part of the book. The author narrates the welcome party and announcement of COCK house, champion houses for the year, and also about the new appointments. There’s no doubt that almost every school has four groups each among which the competitions track. The reader becomes nostalgic for sure when reading between the lines of the narration of house groups. Most importantly, this chapter gives us the details about how Ramakrishna turned out to be Rambo. Yes, it is Gagan, the house captain, named Ramakrishna as Rambo after the chocolate he was biting then.
Beyond doubt, a nickname is the stiffest nugget that the evil spirit can throw at a man. When a person unexpectedly hears his nickname from unexpected people, sure, it will create an affray. That’s what happens in Chapter 3 — Ignorant Mistakes. The funny narration of Bampu knowing that Paparuyudu has revealed his nickname to the new joiners and after matters makes the reader stick to the book.
Further reading in this book discloses the fact that Sainik Schools follow the hierarchy of Military Institutions, for the punishments like ear squats, kneel-down, etc, described throughout the book reveal the very fact. The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. The incident wherein Nageswara Rao alias Kalia, a close pal of the author, scribes “TOK” on a wood piece to continue it to make “TOKEN” inscribed would be misinterpreted as the process of inscribing “TOKADA” by crafts master, supports the above thought of George Bernard Shaw.
The reader becomes wistful when the author narrates the story of him stealing the mangoes from the orchard and his friends arriving for the rescue operation. In another incident, Virat, a friend of the author, drops his question paper and picks up the copied material of the author under the pretext of collecting his question paper — a clear intent to save the author. These particular incidents leave an impression that friends are friends, no matter what, they always remain well-wishers of us!
Occasionally, this book brings out the ultimate love of a mother. It is palpable through the incident wherein the author’s mother dares to kill a snake for his sake. The feeling is identically deep when we read through the incident wherein the author escapes his half-yearly exams upon his father’s arrival to take him back home for the treatment, for his mother was worried about him for consuming the milk of the buffalo that died of a dog’s bite.
The book is a collection of tender, adamant and ignited minds that want to dominate for being dominated; a book of the desperate group mates who want to win the cross country; a book of blokes that look after to take revenge for being offended — no matter whether the one who affronted was even their instructor, etc. With the narration of the author’s journey through the seven seasons of his schooling, the readers stick to this book.
This book fascinatingly presents the author’s perspectives and analysis of his journey through the seven seasons at a Sainik school and categorically discusses most of the contemporary happenings.
Nonetheless, though I understand that it is always very easy to critique books for what they leave out, I strongly felt, in this case, the author has palpably taken it for granted that every reader has done schooling at the same place, forgetting the very fact that this book can have diverse reader profiles — the batchmates of the author, the alumni of the same school, general readers, and readers having some defence background, etc. I, the reviewer, strongly felt that occasional pictures of the school and a group photo of all those characters cited in the book could have added more exquisiteness to the narration.
If we meticulously follow an autobiography, we can live the life of the person described therein! Indubitably, as one reads through the book, one can live his own student life through the author’s narration.
The author, a Saikorian, has achieved the objectives he had set when he was writing this book in the first place. Overall, the purpose of the author in writing this volume is achieved — to provide assorted readers with the seven wonderful years at Sainik School. It is very much pertinent to mention that a few autobiographical narrations and contemplations make us live the character role of biographer! This semi-autobiographical work serves the same.
Indubitably, this book will appeal to assorted readers. To this end, this excellent publication, by all means, serves as a good read to not only the people associated with the author but also the people of general interest.
Before wrapping up…it is rightly said that some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers. I express my resilient decree that without the strong support rendered by Ms Laseeta Kunhikannan, the editor of the book, this book might have not taken its present form — the supreme editing capabilities are palpable wherein she has extracted Rambo out of Rainbow of emotions, and seven seasons at Sainik school from seven colours of the author’s sprightly emotions!
-Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi