July 14, 2012 7 Comments
Back in 1974 our English teacher at Karachi Grammar School (let’s just call her Mrs X) gave us an essay to write. The choice of topics was fairly routine, but there was one which sort of struck a chord with me. The topic went by the outlandish name of ‘Pockets’.
On what impulse I chose this topic, I have no idea. Suffice to say, I must have done a good job on it, because it ended up getting the highest marks. Almost four decades later, the essay is still fresh in my mind, not because of the marks it secured, but because inked in red, besides the essay was the comment “I am extremely surprised!“. Clearly, I did not look capable of putting together such a piece.
Since then, I have made peace with Mrs X, ( and I hope she is reading this note), but do marvel at the perversity of human nature. After 21 years of education, I only remember one piece of writing and that too because the teacher doubted my ability.
So I have recreated the essay below, to prove I was really the “real deal”. The language might have changed a bit in 40 years.
When the airport announcement came, I went up to the aircraft in a jiffy. The DC-10 was spacious and the seats comfortable. This was one of the few times I had been in an aircraft and I was most excited. The aircraft raced off and it was up and away. Not too difficult at all. Being a naturally greedy teenager, the food was the next treat. All looked hunky dory, until that huge lurch. It was as if the food inside would settle for the sick bag instead. Ugh! Then the announcement lady said that we had hit an air pocket and should put on our seat belts. The word ‘pocket’ sort of stuck in my mind.
An air pocket must be the worst form of pocket in this world. There are many and most are fairly innocuous; though some carry a significance far beyond their rather simple image.
Take the pocket knife. A companion for many a year, it is the means to many ends. I acquired it to satisfy my grandiose imagination, that one day I shall defend a damsel in distress with this piece of equipment. Alas, it has been most disappointing, in that I have never come across a damsel in distress. So, while heavily resorting to the imagination to satisfy my ego, I have used it for more mundane work, like cutting fruit, paring some wooden stuff, specifically the bottom of a bat, and also to open up screws by inserting the point of the pocket knife into the groove of the screw and twisting it.
Traditional pockets are cavities created in clothes, to allow one to deposit odds and ends. Mostly these are chewing gums, but sometimes even in my pauper state, I still manage to keep some money in them. Older people have wallets which they put in their back pockets. These wallets stick out and attract the class of beings called pick-pockets. These are talented individuals, with slippery fingers and few scruples. I would not go near them.
Of course you would have noticed that the last mentioned was a hyphenated pocket. These are very convenient. They pop up everywhere to make life easy. Patch-pockets is one such hyphen. Hyphens have been created by the intellectually lazy for ease of usage. They are a ‘short-cut’ to making things happen; not really the ‘done’ thing in English.
There are also hidden pockets. These could be inside clothes or brief cases. They are supposed to accommodate money and other precious things. I of course do not require such an exigency, as my pockets are to let. One other hidden pocket is the one inside a Kangaroo. It is nature’s safety deposit of the cub, which can then safely move along with the mother kangaroo.
Lastly, the pocket battleships. These were fast, armoured navy cruisers created by the Germans in WW11. There was a lot of fear and propaganda behind them. The Deutschland and Admiral Graf Spee were the most notorious of this class. The battle for the Graf Spee was famous for its bluff element. Having done some damage to the Graf Spee, the Ajax and Achilles (British ships) had chased the pocket battleship into Montevideo. Some deft radio work convinced the German commander, that an enemy flotilla awaited the Graf Spee outside Montevideo. Despairing, the commander sank the Graf Spee himself. Clearly he had developed pockets of madness inside his brain!
The above essay was of course written in pre-Google times. Today when I Google the word ‘pockets’, the references are not too different from those used in my essay. It is good to know that some things never change.