This is not my story but the images I first formed when I heard this story from my mom Tejashri Milind are alive in my head as if it has happened to me. Since childhood I was in co-education, in short we call it as co-ed. The word means that girls and boys study together. But I partially remember my primary schooling days. Initially boys wanted to be separate than girls. I had no clue what girls wanted that time. Actually boys leave it, you will never know what girls really want from you;) . Coming back to my story, The boys till class 3rd and 4th year of schooling in my time stayed away from girls. They use to call “anti cola” If any boy talks or play along with girls. ‘Anti cola’ is just a teaser word which partially means you get away from me. You are disgusting.
Being with boys, the games I use to play was cricket, football, Ball Throw can catch. All these games involved running in ground for longer duration. And I am not sure I should call this laziness or something else but I hate RUNNING. In the same universe girls played games like langdi, stone in a circle, imaginative fairyland. Due to my laziness these games attracted me more. Ashwini Kamble and Anjali Rai we one of my first girl-friends whom I started to play these games with. I was sometimes boycotted or being laughed that I play along girls but slowly one by one, all guys started joining us for different games and finally we made a big team and Played the game Rex-Team, which is mixture of running, hiding and catching. And can be played by boys and girls together. I remember Ashish Mandrah was first to join me. We discovered our journey of co-ed together and learned girls and boys are equal.
When I told this story to my mom she came up with her schooling days stroy. Might be Manoj Ghughuskar or his classmates may remember this more than me. Though I was not in this story but the images of her story are still fresh in my mind. Even during my mother’s time, she had co-ed in her schooling life. Boys and girls had a strong bond, but it takes time to form. Their school had a very small passage common for boys and girls where they can go for drinking water. Boys mostly to tease girls and initiate conversation use to stand in those path. Now the path was more narrower for girls to move in and girls had to initiate the conversation for boys to move away from the passage or give them side. That was breaking-ice conversation starter point roughly before 30-40 years from now.
Once a girl complaint about a guy standing on the path and she over exaggerated this to one of the teacher. Coming from a girls school she was not happy with the co-ed system of education. For some reason there were professors who don’t like girls and boys mixing and talking along. Thus the teacher came and beaten the guy and asked him to go and stand outside of the class. He was not allowed to attend the classes from that time. In that duration, my mom and her friends thought it’s not fair to give such a crucial punishment as standing in the path cannot be considered as missbhaving or eve teasing. Even if the girl has requested politely to give her side, he would have given her, just like most of the boys do. They talked this in group and went outside and stood along the guy who was punished. Watching a scenario that girls are supporting a boy. The whole class boys joined the moment and came out of the class. And watching this, except the girl who complaint every other girl came out of the class. The Principle had to come and ask for the matter as it had never happened before that girls and boys came out of the class and started standing on ground, boycotting studies to support a cause. Boys and girls together demanded that the girl and teacher must apologies for their misunderstanding. And the class will only commence when the boy who is punished is allowed in to study with them.
This is what happened. And its was believed that their batch was most prosperous batch showing co-education and principal values learned for surviving. And the key is to fight not with each other, but fight with the cause together.
My international friends may wonder that only boys or only girls school may not exist now or this story is classic and traditions are not practiced now, but still in Hyderabad there are coaching institutes where girls and boys are taught separately. Recently from my friend I came to know that there is a complete universtiy Called Sathyabama University in Chennai that don’t allow even girls and boys to talk with each other. I am not sure but it’s just a view that person who are educated from a school/university where even communicating with opposite sex is forbidden, may feel initial difficulty in establishing a society which involves respecting both the gender equally and co-working in future. My be my thought do not apply to every place or situation. But I still support Co-Ed and wish people must experience this as childhood can never come back to experience these bonds again 😉