The exams time were like a whirlpool. If somebody had to find out about a robot’s life, they could have observed us. We get up in the morning 6am, followed by a revision (or, last minute book glancing/ mugging, whatever you call it),then rush for breakfast followed by exam at 9am. After the 3 hour exam, the revision for the next day’s exam begin. The school conducted a mock exam for practice(which ended up mocking at us), so every day, we used to write 2 exams, one in the morning & one in the evening. You can imagine our state by then. So when the exams got over, it was like breathing fresh oxygen once again. We had a 5 day break, Being such a short time, I nor my roommates couldn’t go to our home. The warden announced that the routine academic schedule will happen every day during the holidays too. The only consolation was that evening classes were canceled. As usual, the three of us, actively utilized the time in brainstorming and coming up with ideas for helping me approach Keerthana .
Prabu, who generally stays silent, comes up with mind blowing idea, at the least unexpected time. One of his idea was that girls like guys who have good physique. He said ‘Vikram, first impression make the best impression’. I asked him, but don’t you think Keerthana & I have already met and it wont be the first time we will be seeing each other. Prabu replied ‘That was before the holiday. Now when you meet her again, you can make a good impression on her for the first time.’ Not that the idea was bad, but to mould myself into a fit structure in 5 days, was what concerned me. Gopal, seemed more interested in the idea. ‘Is it really true, Prabu’. Does it really work’. Prabu said he had seen his friend brother get abs after visiting gym for a month.’ ‘But cant I do it in a week’, Gopal asked eagerly. Prabu replied: ‘Well there is a technique I have heard that could work, but iam not sure about it’.
Gopal was all ears for it. Prabu went on, ‘There is a 5 day diet program which will help you reduce weight (10-15 kgs in 5 days). On the first day, you eat fresh vegetables (except potato). The second day - fresh fruits, the third a mix of fruits & vegetables, the fourth - a boiled potato along with a handful of rice, the final day includes salads and a handful of rice. Gopal was eagerly interested in it. ‘Do you eat all those items along with your normal course or after your normal course’. Prabu muttered something. Gopal, the items I mentioned will be the normal course. Not in addition to the normal course. Gopal looked aghast. Doesn’t it damage your body? I mean your stomach, he asked. Prabu said ‘ it might work. So if you follow the diet course and work out slightly, you can have your dream physique.’ Gopal decided to give it a try. ‘So, Vikram, when do we start’, he asked putting a hand over my shoulder. I said, Iam content being myself but would be there to cheer him for the crash diet course. We went to the mess room and asked the cook to have the required vegetables ready in the morning. He was puzzled by our request, but just stared at us. The first day went by well, on the 3rd day, I couldn’t find Gopal in his bed. Prabu later informed that Gopal had fallen unconscious while going for a jog. His situation looked like as if he had been on a food strike for weeks. The school physician told Gopal to rest for 2 days properly and eat normal food. [It seemed he was equally interested in impressing Keerthana’s friend Geeta]
Once the school reopened, all the subject teachers started distributing the exam papers. I was more interested in getting to know her scores than mine. Being a decent student, I had scored above average in most of the papers except in Hindi where I was below the average. Keerthana too had scored well in all subjects except Hindi where she just passed. The school administration conducts a special course for students who secure border line scores.
Accordingly, being the class monitor, I had to prepare the list of students in all subjects where students have scored border line scores. After making the list, I told Gopal & Prabu that Keerthana is there in the special course. Prabu all of a sudden, shouted ‘I have a plan’. Based on our past observation, Prabu & his plan didn’t seem to get along. So with apprehension, we asked him to share his plan. He said, ‘Since Keerthana is in the Hindi special class, why don’t you join the class too. You will get a chance to spend some time with her & probably get to know her better’. Well, the plan might work. After promising to treat him to samosa in the school canteen, I made a plan to approach the Hindi teacher.
Next day, while submitting the list, I said to her, ‘Maam, I would like to join the Hindi special classes.’ She said ‘Vikram, was surprised to hear it as students generally give me reasons for not joining the class. You on the contrary want to join. So whats your reason ? I said, Maam, in the 20 marks multiple objective section, I had used random guessing in marking the answers, and got lucky. Hindi, being our national language, I want to understand and learn it completely. She got emotional and said ‘Vikram, I haven’t seen such an interested student in my lifetime. You will achieve a lot many things, if you have this attitude.’ Next day in the class, she appreciated me citing the reason and told everyone to work hard like me & take the special classes seriously. Later in the night, Gopal came to the room with a long sad face. I asked him what had happened. It seemed that Gopal got to know that Keerthana’s friend Geeta was also attending the special course, so he went to Maam and adopted the same ruse as mine. The teacher in turn blasted him and warned him to study properly or else she would take strict action against him. Gopal couldn’t understand what went wrong. After narrating what had happened, we found the reason. Gopal had missed the first part of my dialogues (of wanting to learn Hindi properly) and just cited my second dialogue part (of guessing the answers). That too, he had a big smile in his face while telling this. The teacher who at that moment had a heated argument with someone, felt that Gopal was proud of guessing rightly hence the happy smile. Hence, he received the treatment. Now, how can I make him understand that direct duplication doesn’t work, one needs to know the situation also. Somehow we consoled Gopal and we went to sleep.
Next day, the special classes started. I sat in the last bench as she usually sits in the second last row. I made Gopal sit in front of me and used him as a cover so that teacher couldn’t see me. I used to look at her, hoping that she will look back atleast once. While discussing the days happening, Gopal would say, that he saw Keerthana glancing at me twice. That was something news but I felt that Gopal was telling this to cheer me up. But I still hadn’t spoken with Keerthana much. Finally, one good opportunity arrived. The Hindi teacher conducted a surprise quiz on few verses she had taught last week and told us that whoever failed to write it will be penalized. She told us to choose a neighbor and correct paper by ourself and submit the paper after correcting. Keerthana generally sat with Geeta, but on that day, Geeta was absent, so she was sitting alone. I somehow gathered courage and went to her and asked if she can correct my paper. She hesitated initially, and then took my paper & gave hers to me. I then realized that Gopal was looking expectantly at me for the exchange. I mumbled a sorry and asked him to adjust this time. When I looked at her paper, I found that she hadn’t written anything in it. Later, I came to know that she hadn’t been feeling well, so she hadn’t read on the topic. While submitting, I wrote her name in my paper and mine in her paper.
The teacher after collecting the list of students who hadn’t written the verses, announced that these students will write the verses(around 20 of them) 500 times and submit it the next day. She then announced the names of the students. My name appeared at the end of the list. The teacher admonished me and said that Iam not working hard and that I hadn’t written anything in the paper. Keerthana was surprised to not hear her name in the list and since she had checked my paper she was more surprised to hear my name announced. She finally realized what I had done. The teacher called me to the center of the class and told that atleast others have tried to write something, but I have left the paper blank. The whole class was looking at me, while the teacher admonished but none of it mattered, because I was looking at Keerthana & for the first time, she smiled in a friendly way.
To be contd