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Thread: The Turkish Cap

          
   
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    The Turkish Cap

    The school bell rang. Recess at last! We rushed out of the classroom. I took the 'gulli out
    of my satchel before I ran out. Khushal took
    the ' clanda a n d followed me. Panna, Raghubir, Brijpal, Prakash, Kaushal, Bishen, Nityanand,
    all dashed out, followed by others. We reached
    the ground outside our school compound where
    we usually played.
    Prakash drew a big circle. Khushal entered it.
    It was his turn to begin the game. He placed the
    'gulli' in the centre of the circle, and took the
    'danda to strike the gulli. The others took their
    positions round the circle. Everybody's eyes were
    on Khushal. He struck the 'gulli' hard. It flew out
    of the circle and went quite far. None of us could
    catch it.
    Nityanand was the first to reach the 'gulli'.
    Picking it up, he threw it back with all his strength.
    Khushal struck hard again. It went flying in
    another direction.
    Bishen was fielding that side. He tried to catch
    "Short stick used in the game of tip-cat (gullidanda).
    "Stick used in the same game.

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    it but it slipped through his fingers. He picked it
    up and threw it back towards Khushal. Khushal
    once again hit it back.
    It was my turn next. But the way Khushal was
    hitting I felt my turn would never come. I would
    have to wait till the next day. I was hoping Khushal would miss just once. Then I would be able
    to start. But Khushal was proving too good a
    player for us.
    Then Panna threw the 'gulli to Khushal. It did
    not even reach the circle. Khushal struck it forcefully towards Brijpal. Brijpal could not catch it
    either. It should have been an easy catch. I cursed him for missing it. Brijpal was also sorry foi
    the slip. But what could he do now? He flung the
    gulli back with a vengeance. Khushal didn't miss
    this time either.
    The 'gulli was now flying towards me. I was
    ready to catch it. But it never came!
    All of a sudden there was a lot of noise. A man
    in kurtci* pyjama was standing in the middle of
    the play field. His turkish cap was lying on the
    ground, upside down. The 'gulli seemed to have
    hit the cap on its way to me. The wonder of it
    all was that the 'gulli' had landed inside the cap.
    The man was furious. "You naughty boys! See,
    what you have done. I will teach you a lesson,"
    he shouted.
    "Long loose shirt worn with pyjamas.

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    "I am sorry, Sir," Khushal said promptly. "I
    did not do it deliberately. It just happened. But,
    I am very sorry."
    . "Is this your playground? Why don't you play
    in your school compound?" the man shouted.
    Brijpal went up to him. "Sir, we are sorry for
    what happened. Our school compound is very
    small."
    "That is why we play here everyday," Bipin
    added.
    "And this is how you play here, isn't it?" the
    man said wryly. "I'll go to your headmaster. Then
    you will leam how to play and where to play."
    Khushal and Brijpal pleaded. "Sir, please excuse us. We will be careful in future."
    The man did not appear to be satisfied. I
    thought I could save the situation. I picked up
    his cap to hand it over to him. He snatched it
    from me. I could not remove the 'gulli from it.
    Turning round, he started walking rapidly towards the school. All of us followed him, begging
    his pardon all the way. But he wpuld not listen.
    I stole a glance at my friends. They all looked
    mournful. I too was scared of the headmaster's
    temper.
    The man entered the school building, and went
    straight to the headmaster's office. The peon outside tried to stop him. He just brushed him aside
    and went in. We could hear loud voices coming

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    from within. All of us were praying silently. We
    had crept to the courtyard facing the headmaster's
    room. We tried guessing the conversation they
    were having and the consequences. Soon the
    peon came and called us. One by one we entered the headmaster's room.
    "Who is responsible for all this?" he asked in
    a thundering voice. "How many times have I told
    you to keep within the school compound?"
    We looked at one another. No one could say a
    word. The headmaster raised his voice, "Are all
    of you dumb? Why don't you speak up?"
    I made bold to reply, "Sir, we are sorry. We
    shall be careful in future."
    The headmaster merely said, "Apologise to this
    gentleman, all of you."
    "We have been begging his pardon, Sir," it
    was Brijpal.
    "You must apologise in my presence," the
    headmaster insisted.
    We chorused, "We are very sorry, Sir."
    "O.K. boys," the man said and turned towards
    the headmaster. "And thank you, Sir." He looked satisfied, and moved towards the door.
    Just as he was going out and we were about to
    leave, the headmaster asked, "Now, whose stroke
    was it?"
    I looked towards Khushal. He was looking at
    me. I looked round. My heart was beating faster
    35 and faster. But

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    how could I blame my friend?
    With a sinking feeling, I decided I would take the
    blame. A faint smile played on the headmaster's
    face. Somehow I felt it was not for any punishment that the question was asked. I opened my
    mouth to reply.
    But Khushal was quicker. "Sir, it was my
    stroke. I am very sorry."
    "What a stroke!" the headmaster exclaimed.
    "You strike the 'gulli', hit a man's cap, make it
    fall, and then land the 'gulli' inside it! A master
    player, no doubt!"
    I could not suppress my laughter. But I could
    not laugh in the headmaster's presence, either.
    So, I checked myself and with some difficulty
    managed a wide smile. When I looked round,
    the others were also trying to suppress their laughter. We were eager to go out and have a hearty
    laugh. The man with the turkish cap also turned
    round at the door. He too looked amused. Still
    smiling he went away.
    We trooped out of the room. Then we let ourselves go.

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