past tense

Riding the bus to school when it came near I'd hasten to count the ambulances that came up because the belief was that seeing three ambulances brought luck so the teacher might not check for homework. There was a large hospital near school so ambulances roamed the streets there, but mostly I couldn't get three, and my palm often received smart whacks from serious canes and went deep red, ambulance or no ambulance. (I checked my hand now and reassured myself that it is whole.) Sometimes it was alright because many hadn't done homework and we all took flogging and stood up on the bench. In another school in another town, the headmaster held a special ceremony once a month in the daily school assembly. He lined up the top scorers in the month's class-tests and gave each a palm-sized certificate of merit. Next, he lined up those who scored the least and and lashed them till his cane broke. The caning sometimes went on even when the assembly had ended and we were trooping to class. In Bangalore, our teacher was exasperated that her boys and girls were shy of each other at such a young age; so she put boy next to girl next to boy next to girl and enforced the rule the whole year and we enjoyed the rule even at that age. The Scottish nun in a North Karnataka town didn't like the prescribed history text-book and she ordered a special one for us that praised British rule and now I realize she got away with it. She taught very good English and her arts classes were fun and an experience like in the Sound of Music. In the last year of school the class teacher took us to the river Kaveri and taught us in a quaint way about null sets and universal sets but we didn't go for the maths and instead some boys and girls went for each other so the teacher said he saw no future for us. No matter. Altogether, those teachers gave us such a past.

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