At The Quiz Hall 

Chaitanyamoi Chetia

© Copyright 2023 by 
Chaitanyamoi Chetia

Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash
Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

Debojit washed his new beautiful sports shoes and dried it under the sun; he removed the shoe laces from his pair of shoes and dried it separately. He was wandering in his mind that he would put on fancy dress and wear sports shoes and would arrive at the club hall for the quiz competition. He searched his shoe laces where he had kept after they were dried under the sun; for after inserting the laces in the shoes he would put on and leave for the club for the quiz competition.

The quiz competition was a beautiful event for Debojit which he always longed for; and also for his friends. Participants from different schools assembled at the club; most of the students came from Assam Oil Division (AOD) school, Indian Oil Corporation ( IOC) school, and from Vivekananda Vidyalaya. Looking at the participants at that moment, no one could differentiate which participants were enrolled in which schools as no one assembled at the club for the quiz competition wearing their unique school uniforms. All the participants stood in groups outside the green field of the club gossiping amongst themselves and what they discussed were not known. At times the groups would crane their necks here and there to see whether any participants acquainted to them had arrived at the club as after a few minutes the quiz competition would start. Now they were waiting for the quiz master to arrive at, and Debojit arrived at the club walking on foot along the footpath with dejection in his mind that even after searching everywhere he could not find the shoe laces.

Next time, I shall not separate the laces from the shoes while washing,” Debojit wandered as he walked along for a long distance till he arrived at the club.

Seeing the boys of his age standing in the outside boundary of the club he felt like he were at his school. He would come close to a few group of students who were standing and gossiping, and as he approached them closer looking at their faces, he would disperse from that place as the participants were from other schools. Had the participants been from his school, it would have been a rapturous moment for Debojit, because then he would converse endlessly; but, all the participants’ visages were new to Debojit. He tried to join in the group discussion where the boys were chatting with giggles, and sometimes with chortles with enthusiasm, but each time Debojit would glance at their faces each time he would change his direction. After a few moment he became wealful that two students of his class section arrived at the club.

Has the quiz master arrived?” Debojit’s friend said to him.

Quiz master has not arrived till now!” Debojit said.

They discussed about the current affairs of Digboi, and about the fire that took place at Baghjan, which took 176 days to douse the fire completely; and Baghjan oil field was not very far from the club where the quiz competition would take place. Gurudindu sir was the quiz master who always conducted the competition, and controlled all the quiz groups very decently and effortlessly; sir also encouraged the participants and praised them when they would give current answers; and participants of all the schools preferred Gurudindu sir conducting quiz, for, sir could amuse and make all the participants smile throughout the quiz competition. Most of the questions that sir would put to the participants dealt in Digboi city; about the coal fields of Margherita; about the Ahom reigns and about the amphitheatre of Assam that was located at Sivasavar, and about the different types of animal fights that used to take place at the time the Ahoms ruled the state, and the people that enjoyed those fights from the amphitheatre.

Some tea estates of different places of Assam contained the same name; like Sessa tea estate, and Khomtai tea estate. Such similar names of tea estates could be found in different districts of Assam, though the tea companies were different; and sir could make the quiz hall of the club enthusiastic putting some questions like which major rivers had been flowing along these two tea estates having the same name. When no participants could give the correct answer, the question would go to the audience; when someone from the audience replied correctly, sir would ask the boy sitting in the midst of the audience to come up to the raised platform of the dais where sir had been conducting the quiz, and sir would gift a pen and would praise the boy.

Debojit memorised the names of books and authors, capitals of the countries, current affairs, autobiographies written by popular cricket players, and journalists, stories written by renowned writers.

In the street, all the participants feared the quiz master if they accidentally came across the latter; they would walk along the footpath silently, shutting their mouth until the quiz master crossed them. When there would be a quiz competition, no banner or posters were hung at schools or in the traffic points; but the curious students of the schools knew about it speedily; the news of quiz competition that would be held at the hall in the club would spread very quickly.

Till then almost forty to fifty students in their courful dresses had assembled at the club; and Debojit was in a dejected heart that he could not arrive there wearing the sports shoes which he had been planning to wear, and he could not come wearing it because he could not find the shoe laces.

Quiz master is coming,” Debojit said to his friends. They all loved the quiz master, for the quiz master conducted the quiz from the beginning to the end in a cheerful manner at the club hall; the audience would take their seat at the farthest corner of the hall and the hall became rapturous, and Gurudindu sir would again conduct the quiz.

In the previous quiz competition the quiz master had put a question to the audience to name the author of the book All quiet on the western front; one answer came from one of the boys of the audience that he had seen a film by this name very many times, but he did not know the author of the book; and such type of answers also made the hall of the club very mirthful and jocular and amusing.

Though the quiz master was kind to everybody, all the participants feared him because they had a strange notion that if the quiz master would see them walking in the street, in the next quiz competition which would take place very shortly, the quiz master would put them some toughest questions! And along with the other participants, Debojit also thought in the same way.

The other beautiful thing the participants liked about Gurudindu sir was that sir would encourage them and loved them. “Those who have not won, don’t be disheartened because there is a next competition coming soon,” sir would say, Debojit also got encouragement for this, and all the participants loved Gurudindu sir always.

That day Debojit arrived at the hall of the club for the quiz competition wearing sleepers, as he could not find out the laces even after searching everywhere. That day he promised himself that he would not remove the laces from his shoes while washing them. He spent the time that day searching every corner of the mattress; he wasted the time searching everywhere, he could not read the daily newspapers, be could not read the sports column and the country news. He kept the laces under the mattress in the middle of the bed; he turned over the corners of the mattress, but as it was in the middle of the bed, he failed to find it out.

It was a melancholic moment for him for not finding it out in time; and it remained engraved in his memory. It was a lesson for him to learn to cultivate a small thing like keeping his things organised, and also this incident helped him to keep track of every small belongings in every specific location of his home so that he could find his item in needs; and he kept that emotion of going to the club wearing sleepers separately.

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