His name was Subramani (name changed to protect author from getting punched). He would come to school every morning with a great deal of vibhoothi plastered on his abnormally large forehead. By the end of the day, the vibhoothi would have spread all over his face, making him look like he had just used the compact from hell. We called him Powder Subramani – not very creative but then again, we were only 7 years old and our nicknaming skills weren’t exactly the sharpest. I think the best we did back then was Bajji Gomathi. Heh. Gomathi basically had too many molaga bajjis in the canteen and…I digress.

This post is not about Bajji Gomathi’s digestion problems.

Powder Subramani loved discipline. He was probably the only person in II C to have always brought books as per the time table. His walk had discipline. His speech may not have had grammar, but it had discipline. Even the way he ate rasam rice had discipline. It was no surprise that the teacher picked him to be class leader.
Subramani rose to the occasion, and how! Nobody could escape his sight, his 4 inch thick viewing apparatus (commonly referred to as soda buddi) made sure everyone in the perimeter was in his line of control. Even Badboy Naveen was quieter. It was almost as if class II ‘C’ had reformed.

Almost.

It was a Wednesday, I think, or a Thursday. I don’t remember. Our science teacher was absent, which meant Powder Subramani would be on vigil for a full forty minutes. The class was mostly quiet, except for Badboy Naveen who was singing the Su-Su song (I don’t remember the lyrics but it had a lot of Su-Sus). His name was the first one on the “Bad Names” list, not to mention it had an underline and “100 ticks” which was cleverly added by Subramani to save the trouble of actually putting a 100 ticks.
See, when we were in 2nd standard (or even the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and the first term of 6th standard for that matter), the role of the class leader was well defined. He would be the guy who would write “Names” (The visionary that Powder Subramani was, he even innovated and came up with 2 lists – “Good Names” and “Bad Names”) on the board, which was essentially the list of people who were up to no good in the class (or in Subramani’s case, the list of people who were breathing a little too loudly) which would be passed on to the teacher who would decide upon a suitable punishment, like extra Moral Science classes.

Where were we?

Yes.
That afternoon.
The Su-Su song.
Bad Names.
Now, in the middle of all this, there I was minding my own business when my pencil rolled off my desk and onto the floor. So I went to retrieve it, and in the process knocked down a couple of books from the adjacent desks as well (I wasn’t a big fan of poise. Especially not poise like Subramani).
When I fianlly came back to my desk, below Badboy Naveen’s name THERE WAS MINE.

I was appalled. My name was a Bad Name – which was somewhat WTF really, because my name is really nice and I’m sure my Grandfather knew much more than Powder Subramani when he named me.

Heated negotiations ensued.

“Ei, Subramani. Take my name off. I am quiet only”
“Ei, you are making noise”
“No I’m not. Take my name off.”
“No! You are not being quiet”
“Stupppid. I am quiet. Take my name off”

I had called the class leader stupppid. You can imagine what an Epic Badass I was, even back then.

“I am not stupppid. You are only stupppid”
“No I’m not”
“Stuppppid stupppid stupppppid” he said, with so much fervour that the first bench was full of his DNA samples.

At that very precise moment, as if by divine intervention, our class teacher walked in.

“Subramaniam!”
“Yes Miss”
“Did you just call this girl stupid?”
“Yes miss…no! no miss”
“I heard you! You tell me ma, did he call you stupid?”
“Yes Miss” I sniffed (for some extra effect)
“There will be no name call in my class”
“But Miss!” protested Subramani. “That girl was not shut-upping!”
“Enough! From tomorrow, she’ll be the class leader.”

It was too much for poor Powder Subramani to handle. He never spoke to me the entire year, and the next year, and the next year, and well, never. Clearly, he took IInd standard leadership a little too seriously. We had spent nearly 12 years without talking to each other.

Yesterday, Powder Subramani added me on facebook. My life has finally come full circle.