The next day morning, I wake up a little earlier than usual and get ready to go to school. I am not sure if it is the fear or the cold steady rain outside that has disturbed my sleep. Nevertheless, I pack my books and just when I am about to leave, "I will drop you in the school in my car" affectionately dad offers me.
The overnight rain was good enough for the already bad roads of Chennai and by now the potholes are filled with dirty water.
So I quickly take the offer and sit in the car. This way I also gain a good five minutes to complete my homework.
Dad slowly takes the car out of the house. The five minutes that I thought I would save is already lost and more - he drives the car at snail's place.
As we move towards the end of the street, a pedestrian woman steps aside carefully to leave way for our car. My dad acknowledges by a nod of the head and slows down (further) to ensure that he doesn't splash on the lady. Only when she looks up I realize that it is Mrs. Sheila. The expression on my face changes at the very sight of her and my dad is quick to pick that. "Do you know her?" he asks.
"Mmm, yeah she is my new Physics teacher. I didn't know she lived in the neighbourhood", I reply.
Dad, immediately slows down the car to take a second look.
In my mind I say, "You can't go slower than this."
But he seems to have different ideas. He stops the car and offers a ride to Mrs. Sheila.
Mrs. Sheila hesitant at first, obliges and gets in after noticing my school dress.
Mrs. Sheila doesn't know me as her student. She just knows a few people in our class. Afterall she has been in the school only for 3 months.
"Thank you, sir" as she seats herself in the back seat.
"Not a problem at all. I am going there to drop my son afterall. Why not drop his Physics teacher? haha" he responds and eases her into the conversation.
"Which class are you studying" she questions turning towards me.
"XI E mam.", I answer obediently.
"You live here Ma'm? I have never seen you before in this route." I pose one back at her.
"We recently moved here to the 43rd street. Its just been ten days", she responds having a first time complete look at me.
I realize that she is not going to forget my face after this.
"What is your name?" she quickly asks.
"R. Rajesh Ma'm" I reply.
Dad adds to his tally by posing a few questions to her. But the car hasn't moved much in the meantime.
I must agree that some good personal information about Mrs. Sheila were revealed through their conversation.
Now I can tell the boys all about Mrs. Sheila's family - that she is unmarried and lives with a brother and an old mother; that her brother is studying for IAS and she is the only breadwinner of the family. Just as the conversation continues, dad asks Mrs. Sheila "So do you take tuitions outside of school as a supplemental income?".
Mrs. Sheila gets a little uncomfortable with the question. But she pulls herself together and replies, "No, I think the school has some wierd policies that the staff should not engage in private tutoring of our school students".
Dad is smart enough to understand from her reply that Mrs. Sheila would love an additional income oppurtunnity, if only it was not for the school statutes that prevent her.
So he quickly rubbishes the school saying "Yeah, they have all kinds of rules, most of which is absurd and nobody follows" giving Mrs. Sheila the much needed confidence for taking private lessons.
"I want to put Rajesh into some tuitions. So if you are okay, you can teach him in the evenings. I would be more comfortable if he takes tuition lessons from his school teacher than some third person", he adds.
Mrs. Sheila, obviosly uncomfortable with the question, in a dilemna, replies "I will think about it and let you know through Rajesh before the evening"
And with that we reach the school.
We both get down and dad drives away.