Rocking the Bench in the Class

Mahabat Khan Yousufzai (C70)

This story goes back many years, around 1967-68, when we were in second year at NED Engineering College doing civil engineering. At that time I and my friends Mustafa Ahmad Shah and Mazahirul Islam found it hilarious playing silly pranks on classmates. The incident I am relating here is about the only girl student in our class.

The lecture theater 1 was a dark, gloomy huge room with long benches able to seat at least ten students. Even in daytime we needed electrical light to illuminate the room. The girl student used to sit at the edge of first bench. It was like a regular seating arrangement. I generally sat behind her as it was a good place to hear the professors clearly. I was very keen to get first division, my family was depending on it. My whole family migrated to Karachi from northern area so I could become an engineer.

One day before the lecture some of the boys got a long rope and a rock, they put the rock under the middle support of the first bench, making it act like a fulcrum. The bench was raised up in the center but not on one of the ends. Then they tied the rope from under the bench and passed it from under all the benches to one of the back last benches. Here the culprits or jokers sat holding the end of the rope.

Very soon the girl came in the classroom and sat down on the designated spot she noticed the bench was wobbly but did not pay much attention.

When the lecture started the boys at the back jerked the rope and the bench wobbled. The girl stopped taking notes, her pen skipped few lines and made it sloppy, she looked around then turned and looked at me. As I was right behind her she thought I may have shaken the bench. I kept a straight face, I knew who was doing it and it was not me.

I kept my head down in case to keep from smiling and looking guilty. She went back to her writing and after a bit the jerk happened again. She looked around again and gave me a bad look, I kept my head down acting busy. After a few more times I noticed that the lecturer is now paying attention to both of us. This prank would get me in trouble which I could not afford it. The girl had a feeling that either me or boys sitting beside me have done it.

She did not say anything, perhaps she did not want to cause trouble for any of the boys. Now I was praying that the guys will not jerk the rope anymore. This was getting serious. I am sitting tense not paying attention to what the lecturer was saying. I could see the girl was very attentive and waiting for the next bench jerk.

The boys at the back were enjoying our discomfort. Thank goodness the class came to end and the lecturer walked out. The girl got up shock the bench a bit and looked at the bench again, and then at us sitting on the second bench, puzzled as she could not see the rope or the stone in the dark room. She decided that there was something wrong with the bench.

Ultimately she gave up and walked away without saying a word. All the three guilty boys had a big grin on our faces. We were glad we got away with only ugly stares.

After nearly 50 years I had the occasion of talking to her on phone and I retold her the incident. She started laughing and enjoyed it. She said she remembered it well and thought that it was me but could not prove it. I told her I was innocent although most of us knew what was happening.

I thought that this was something I could share with my class fellow so they too can enjoy our little prank of half a century back in our second year.