khadda hai

Owais Mughal

The term ‘khadda hai’ – which literally means a pot hole, is used for the cricketers who are bad in fielding or batting. In the streets where I grew up, a usual spoken sentence went like this:

ye fielder to bilkul khadda hai – halwa catch chor dia (This fielder is a pot hole – dropped an easy catch)

Now let us go to our main story where lesson of the day is going to be: Respect is earned and not commanded.

In eighth grade we had an English teacher who had perfected the art of disciplining the students. His technique was to use pieces of chalk as projectiles and hit any of us suspected of talking or any other petty mischief in the class.

Over the years his aim had become so perfect that he rarely missed his target. The chalk pieces though small in size were thrown with high speeds and therefore hit our heads with very high momentum. We derided getting hit by a piece of chalk and the discipline in class was thus maintained.


Every teacher in our school was given two new chalk sticks per period (one period lasted 50 minutes) to write on the board. Sometimes this English teacher had to use so much chalk for riot control that not much was left for him to write on the board with. In such case he used to ask for his chalk pieces back from the students. This added to the humiliation of disciplined students.

One day our class was in an extra state of turmoil. The English teacher as usual resorted to what he knew best. That is the use of indiscriminate chalk piece projectiles for crowd control. In just couple of throws he ran out of his two full chalk sticks and then had to ask them back. A student who was extra excited that day threw his chalk piece back to the teacher as a slow looping catch. The English teacher looked at the slowly arriving chalk piece in the air with a smirk and tried to catch it with one open palm – and missed the catch. There was two seconds of silence and then suddenly the whole class erupted in a spontaneous chorus of ‘khadda hai – khadda hai.’

Now when I look back I think this was becasue students were forced to behave in the class under the scare of flying chalk pieces but the very first opportunity they got, they paid it back by taunting at the teacher. Respect is earned and not commanded.

Credits: Title photo is from here.

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