By Tharindie Pilapitiya
After having celebrated Halloween in a virtual setting for a few years, this year we decided to conduct it physically at the university. This was quite a new experience, even for some of our board members. As the Gavel Club is always eager to provide its members with lifelong memories, we came together to make it happen. With that, Gavelier Pavan and I were chosen to be the chairs of the meeting.
To give our gavel family an unforgettable experience, we thought of taking them on a tour to a haunted cemetery. In a short period of time, we put together a small organizing committee, and were able to plan on the decorations and the procedures for the Halloween meeting. Though we planned a lot and went into every minute detail, we were so impatient until the moment arrived. The rest of the gavel family were also waiting in excitement to find out what the day had in store for them.
As the organizing committee, we went to the venue a little earlier to make sure that all the arrangements were done on time. While we were busy making the arrangements, we heard footsteps in the corridor, followed by some familiar voices. Guess who else had come early? The gavel family had also arrived early out of excitement and curiosity. But we kept them waiting outside the meeting room until we finished the preparations.
We allowed no one into the room. At sharp 5, the doors were opened, and people started pouring into the room. The room was completely dark making everyone believe that they were entering a world full of horror.
As per the tradition, the national anthem was sung and then President Suthira Wijeyawardhane handed over the gavel to me as I was the Toastmaster for the Halloween themed meeting. Not only that, I was also the guardian of the cemetery and the tour guide of the day who was responsible to guide the visitors throughout the cemetery. Then began the long-awaited spooky night.
As the chief guardian of the cemetery, I had been stuck with ghosts and goblins for years. So, it was really nice to finally see some human faces and to breathe the smell of humans once again. So, I warmly welcomed them all to the creepy night. I also congratulated them for being selected for the journey, because not everyone out there was lucky enough to take part in the Halloween themed meeting of the Gavel club. At that point, we switched on the lights and only then were our visitors able to see the ghosts hanging from the roof and walls as well as the big black coffin laid in front of them.
While they were exclaiming at the decorations, I introduced my co-workers, the organizing committee who had been involved in the planning and the arranging of the meeting from the very beginning. Only then did I realize that my assistant was missing. As usual I had to give him a call, and to the amusement of the audience, he sprung up from inside the coffin and came running towards me. Though at first, he complained about disturbing his long, peaceful sleep, he was happy to see a group of human tourists. It made him feel that we are still remembered by the rest of the humans in the world, though we live very far away from them, in the dark and isolated part of the world.
The hall was in complete silence when they listened to him. With that, the first task of the day, “The Halloween Round Robin” commenced. To make it more “Halloween-like”, the topic was not told at the beginning of the round robin session like we do in our usual meetings. This time, the participants had to play a “Musical Hat Passing” game where they had to pass my magical witch hat around while my ghost choir sang pumpkin carols. Whenever the carols stopped, a box with numbered chits was given to the person who had the hat on his/her head, and he/she had to pick a chit from it. The corresponding topics to the numbers on the chit that every person had to speak about were displayed on the screen.
There were 6 topics, and the participants were asked to speak on what they will do if they can travel on a broomstick, their experiences on scary movies and witches, ghosts who coloured their childhood, bad omens or dream halloween costumes among other interesting topics. However, everyone managed to keep on speaking for 20 seconds, though it was challenging. How can you go on a tour inside a cemetery if you are not willing to accept its challenges? They once again proved that they were the most qualified set of people to take the tour.
After around 45 minutes, the round robin session came to an end.
Then it was time for Gavelier Madhushika’s CC9 speech. Before inviting her evaluator, Gavelier Kasun, I asked the timer, Gavelier Damsith and Ah counter, Gavelier Saritha to introduce their roles. After that, Gavelier Kasun explained the objectives of the CC9 speech and invited Gavelier Madhushika on stage.
She told us her story of her long journey of growth inside the gavel club. She described the day she first joined the club and the way she first wrote a speech for a competition. She shared how her mentor supported her unconditionally to help her grow and reminded us of our own mentors and their immense contribution towards our growth as speakers. She used presentation slides to describe how she improved gradually. After she ended her speech, Gavelier Kasun presented his evaluation in a very attractive manner as usual.
Since the bright smiles and the charming voices of both Gavelier Kasun and Gavelier Madhushika drove the meeting away from the halloween mode, it was upto me to remind them that we were still in the cemetery and to handover the controls to Table Topics Master, Gavelier Pavan. He was ready to guide the participants over the next part of the tour as the assistant guardian of the haunted cemetery.
Instead of having the normal table topics session, it was decided to play a game which tested the participants’ knowledge on movies. They were divided into 6 groups. Then Pavan explained the rules and the game started. Everyone was busy finding the clues and their corresponding movies.
After every minute, the teams had to point out one of the movies hidden in the picture and also explain the clue from which they found it. This happened in rounds and Gavelier Saritha noted down all the movies that were mentioned to make sure they were not repeated. The teams who repeated the same answers were disqualified. The number of movies that some of our gaveliers had watched and the memories that they had regarding those movies were truly amazing. Finally, two of the teams emerged as the winners of the game.
After the fun-filled game, controls were handed back to me. We had then reached the final episode for the day, and it was the time to choose the best costume. I believe it was one of the best moments that most of the participants were waiting for. Almost all gaveliers were dressed up in fancy costumes. There were costumes that were designed with a lot of effort while there were some others that were simple but creative at the next level. They also had eerie-looking face paintings.
I invited all the costumed gaveliers to take part. They came in front, introduced themselves as vampires, witches, ghosts, movie characters and other imaginary characters and filled the audience with fear and excitement by performing different acts Everyone in the audience cheered and clapped after each act and at last even the president had to perform an act to the request of the gaveliers. With his face painting gone wrong making him look like a cat, he performed a cat act that made the audience explode with laughter.
As the co-chairs of the meeting, me and Gavelier Pavan faced a lot of trouble in deciding the winners for the best costume contest. Though at first, we had thought to choose only the best costume winner, after enjoying all the amazing performances, we decided to choose two winners, the best costume winner and the best actor. Gavelier Madushika, who was dressed up as Fiona, a famous movie character was named the best costume winner while the past president, Gavelier Dinidu was awarded the best actor title.
Then I handed over the gavel to the President, marking the end of our tour. Like every good thing should come to an end, the halloween themed gavel meeting was then concluded by the president.
But how will a tour be completed without a treat? Though the meeting was officially over, everyone got a chance to taste a piece of cake after celebrating our very own Gavelier Dulmi’s birthday. Then it was the time for photoshoots. Though it was normal to take photos at the end of physical meetings, it was not normal to capture pictures with those fancy dresses and face paintings. Everyone enjoyed the after party as well as the meeting, proving that gavel is something more than a club. The day concluded after creating so many sweet memories that will be cherished forever.