Mrs. Sheila, the Physics teacher enters the class with a duster on one hand and a long register on the other hand folded to her waist to ensure that it doesn't fall down. Coupled in her fingers are a few chalk pieces. Yesterday, the school principal had decided that the teachers should bring the duster and chalk pieces with them to every class rather than leave it in the classroom- a measure to cut cost and thanks to the duster fight between Balaji and Subbu last week.
Good Morning ma'm !!! we all greet her in the most uncoherent tone. As we sit down and take our seats, Mrs. Sheila, walks to the center and frees her hands by placing everything she carried, on her table.
"Stand up, all of you" she turns; "Did I ask you to sit" she quips.
We all raise ourselves as slowly as possible. Saravanan, who hardly fits into the desk makes a huge sound as he lifts his body, adding fuel to her fury.
"Did you all compete the assignment", she queries looking at everyone in the eye to catch her prey for the day.
"Now, those who haven't completed it, remain standing and other can sit and pass the notebook to the front desk", she says.
Arun and I, both of us, haven't done the work. We look at each other, puzzled. After a brief stare, as the rest of the class settles down, I choose to sit but Arun didn't want to take a chance.
Not that he wants to be honest. He sits next to this girl Ramya who will surely tell Mrs. Sheila that he is lying. But today he is not alone, four other students (3 boys and 1 girl) are standing too. I have already started thinking if I made a mistake by choosing to lie on a day when four others have defaulted.
"Kavitha, you haven't completed the homework? I didn't expect this from you.", Mrs. Sheila asks surprisingly.
"No ma'm, yesterday..." Kavitha starts to reply.
"You wait..." she abruptly stops Kavitha and turns to the boys.
Kishore is already trembling. Mrs. Sheila has a natural ability to pick her prey and was quick to spot him. She zeroes in on him and reaches out to her ear, dragging him out of his desk.
"Ma'm, Ma'm please maaa...", he begs in pain trying to explain.
"Tell me your usual stories. Did someone in your family die, yesterday. Tell me why you didn't mm?" she demands
Kishore goes blank. Actually that was his plan. He is clearly in void, unable to think on his feet. He goes "No ma'm, no ma'm"; totally in shock.
We all laugh as she drags him to the front of the class towards her desk demanding an explanation all the way. Kishore is still to recover from the shock and yet to regain his reflex thinking. He suddenly replies "Sorry ma'm, I forgot" and slowly looks up. Mrs. Sheila is enraged as the class bursts in laughter. I have already forgotten that I have taken a huge chance, today. Everyone including Arun, Kavitha, Siva and Muthu are enjoying.
"Keep quiet, all of you", she orders.
Turning to Arun, Siva and Muthu, she invites them to join Kishore and asks Kavitha to sit down. Mrs. Sheila slaps the other two and ask all of them to get out of the class.
"Unfair", we all breathe. Just as if she heard us say it, Mrs Sheila says, "Kavitha, I am excusing you because this is the first time you have not done the homework. Don't repeat it and I want you to finish it and show it to me tomorrow." . Mrs. Sheila, having come clear of the suspicion of all the students, goes to her chair. She calls Prem, the class monitor, and asks him to bring all the submitted notebooks to her table.
As he sets out to fulfil her orders, Mrs. Sheila tells us to study for the exams quietly while she corrects the notebooks. She asks Prem to arrange the notebooks according to the "Roll Number" so that she can conduct the viva-voce while she returns the notebook.
I never thought about that. All of a sudden, fear started to seep into me. I didn't know that she was going to conduct the vivas today. "Grave mistake", I think restlessly. Its only 10 minutes into the hour. Usually, she takes atleast 25 minutes to finish up with the punishments.
"I have made a big mistake. Total mis-calculation. I am going to get caught. ", I curse myself.
In the meantime the guys outside have gotten over their stint with Mrs. Sheila and have started having fun silently outside, looking at the younger kids playing in the ground.
"Man, I should have also stood up", I worry from within, watching the time every second, which seems to move ever slowly.
My thoughts are wandering. I console myself saying "I will be lucky. I will escape. The bell will ring". But the very next second, I am in fear. "The games hour seems to finish very fast", I think.
"Excuse me, madam", a voice from outside breaks the silence in the classroom.
Its Pichaiah, our attender. He has brought a circular from the Principal's office.
Come in Pitchaiah, what is the matter? asks the teacher.
Dressed in white and white, Pitchaiah seems like an angel sent by God to me.
Will this save me?
I quicly look at my watch and realise that it is 20 minutes into the hour. I do a quick calculation, only two students have completed the viva-voce. I am 18th in the order. But Jaikumar and Gayathri are absent. Still, I figure out that my chances are high to get through clean.
Stay Tuned to find out...