I never understood the relevance of Suprabhatam. I mean, god was omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, surely he could handle graveyard shifts as well? I later accepted it to be some sort of cajoling and coaxing for god to get up and get about.
But be what it may, Suprabhatam was an integral part of the routine. If morning shows the day, the quality of life could pretty well be determined by the Suprabhatams in PS and HS. The difference between Suprabhatam at PS and HS was the difference between a Summer Camp and a Concentration Camp.
PS: They say that in de-addiction centres, they cure you of your desire by administering it in small portions. Almost similar to how you were woken up in PS. The lights would be switched on. S. Bhargav would be chanting 'Karagre Vasate' somewhere in the distance. You woke up, rolled your bed, slept on it. You joined the line to pile the beds, and slept on it. And then put you bed on the pile, and slept on it some more. You stood in line for toothpaste, coaxed to brush your teeth, and then cajoled into the prayer hall.All at a sleepy, hazy, unhurried pace.
The lights in the Prayer Hall were switched off, with only the lamps lit, giving off a hypnotic effect that was probably the last thing to keep you awake. You somnambulate to the lines and take your place. Once the prayer begins, you fall on the back of the person sitting in front of you, who sleeps on the person sitting in front of him. This chain goes on till the wannabe-Swami Vivekananda sitting in the front of the line. This little hermit keeps shrugging off the person from his back, disrupting the chain of sleep behind him in the process and inviting the wrath of the entire batch on himself.
There was a senior girl on the mike chanting 'Om', to the accompaniment of the harmonium, a perfect lullaby to drift off into lala-land. Each 'Om' took its own, sweet time to emanate from the chanter, and lasted for about a minute, in the process guaranteeing you 21 minutes of blissful sleep. Prasunna mam did her best to extract a few 'Om's from you, but as long as you were smugly settled on the back of the person in front of you and didn't look up at all, all was well. The Suprabhatam too went on at a slow pace, if you were awake to notice it in the first place.
The Suprabhatam was followed by the 'Ashtotram', which flew by before you noticed it. "OmbhagawansatsaibabanamahaOmsatSwaroopaNamaOmSai.....", so on and so forth. By the time the entire session was over, sunlight seeped in from the meshed windows. You were woken up when your class was asked to leave. You stood up, bowed down once in front of the altar and left.
Of course, there were the 'Spirus' who were deep in meditation and unaware of their classmates who had left. Such divine souls would later on need to be tapped on the head by Anantalakshmi mam and would only then open their eyes to realise that rest of their classmates had left. But if you were a normal person, you slowly walked out of the prayer hall. Your sleep was driven away, and you charged downstairs for a breakfast of bread and tomato soup. Ready for another day of kick-assery.
HS: All the excitement about going to 'that school' would evaporate on the first day itself. You were woken up in an inauspicious manner. Your blankets were pulled off your bodies. If you still managed to sleep, the combined vocal talents of Anup Jalota and Narendra Chanchal were unleashed on the PA system to jolt you out of your senses.
As you trudged along to the Prayer Hall. This was a strange hall. Like a magical hall in Hogwarts, it served you food four times a day, showed you a film a fortnight, and fucked up your mornings everyday. The lights were switched on. There was no option for you to lounge yourself on the person in front of you. There was one arms distance between the person in front of you. All the teachers of the hostel were present. There were two guys of your own class, friends who mocked at teachers with you at night, who were monitors. They wrote your names down in little papers if you were found not chanting the prayers.
There was no way you could doze. If you did, the dickhead sitting behind you who desperately wanted a seat in Eleventh standard would nudge you awake, and get a smile of approval from Janardhanan. Not only were you not allowed to doze, you had to keep your back straight, and your hands in the meditation mudra pose, and had to chant the Suprabhatam. As if this was not enough, Janardanan's voice (as melodious as a chainsaw cutting through an old blackboard) ensured you stayed very much in the realms of awareness.
If you still managed to defy the odds to steal thirty nine winks, you were made to go to the end of the hall and stand, making you wish you were a horse, one so that you could sleep while standing, and two so you could run over some of the teachers.
The chanting itself was so slow, it felt like an endodontic therapy being performed without anaesthesia. The other highlight of HS was the Ashtotram. In HS, Ashtotram was not just another prayer, it was the Holy Grail.
We were set questions in 'Human Values' that were as cruel as 'Write down the Ashtotram from No. 67 to 92'. Punishments included writing the Ashtotram in a paper 5 times during Games Time. So, there was no respite during Ashtotram time too. And it was chanted in slow motion as well. Om....Bhagawan...Sri...Sathya..ZZZ...Sai...(tap on head)...Babaya..."Bloody fellow, Go and stand"...Namaha...
It wasn't over as yet. To add free-flowing, triple refined, Iodised salt to the wound, Janardhanan sir would give us our daily dose of nuggets of wisdom. Little notes on the importance of devotion in day to day life.
Surprisingly, at the end of it all, you were still sleepy as hell. You trudged out of the hall, and in a colossal joke played by the heavens, were to be taken for jogging. By Rammohan sir!!!!