Back In the Days

I was a good student and by that I mean, I did no wrong and religiously adhered to all spoken and unspoken rules. I never spoke or interrupted a teacher, but one day, I was punished for speaking and disturbing the class. It was absolutely unthinkable. I was in the 6th standard and sitting in the second row. Two other girls were busy whispering while the teacher was trying to explain the flow of blood from one organ to another. With sweat dripping from her forehead, the teacher was furiously writing on the blackboard and talking without bothering to look at us. She suddenly turned her head, looked straight at me and said, she saw me talking. I was amazed to know she could see something that had not happened.

I immediately stood up and looked at the two girls in front and denied talking/whispering. She got mad and said, I must get out of the class and infuriate her no further. I was terrified of going out, as the principal of the school had a habit of roaming around and skinning alive kids who were found standing outside classes. He treated both girls and boys equally and didn’t mind inflicting bruises and cuts with repeated thrashing. I repeated myself once more, but the teacher refused to hear me out. I walked out of the class – I had no choice.

I prayed to god really hard to keep that fatty inside his cabin.

A few minutes later, something wonderful happened. I saw him get in his car and out of the school compound. I relaxed and thanked the invisible lord. I was getting bored standing there, so I headed towards a place where I could drink a glass of water. We were supposed to stand in one place when we are thrown out, but I had 30 minutes to kill and I was wearing a watch. I spotted a poor kid who was standing near the school gate. I asked him why he looked so hungry and thus began a conversation intended to kill my time. He told me he was hungry and if I had anything to give to him, he would be much obliged. I had 20 bucks. I used to spend 5 on the bus fare and 15 on chocolates for my brother daily. So I gave him 10 bucks but not before he shared his story as quickly as possible.

I was interested in knowing if he was an orphan, how he survived at night, where he slept, what he did on days when nobody gave him anything, why he wouldn’t wash his face when I could see a water pump on the other side of the road for anyone to use, if he had only one torn t-shirt and where did he get that from, did people ever beat him up, and what he planned to do and go where, once my conversation with him was over. I spent 15 minutes, gave him the money and told him to spend it wisely. I felt sad for him but that was all I was capable of doing for that 7 year old kid that day. Once the bell rang for the next class, I returned and things were normal again. The whispering girls were very apologetic. I told them not to worry, as I had a good time and whatever happens, happens for the best.

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