Bunk it

There I sat abhorred and laden with thoughts pertaining to free body diagrams and Newtonian mechanics; the otherwise white board filled with the scribbling of the toughest problems I’ve ever related myself with. My friend sitting beside me was equally bored and looked almost dead; I could tell by the look on his face, he was suffering and longed to go outside. The room with forty students breathing nervously made us claustrophobic and asphyxiated. We had no clue of what was going on around us.

The institute prided in getting its students placed amongst the top ranking individuals in any decent entrance examinations. But success comes at a hefty price now-a-days, does it not?

Oblivious of everything, I decided to write something on the desk- it was obvious they had been made recently for our batch, covered with shining plywood smelling of varnish. I fidgeted, wrote random characters till suddenly in a manner considered lackadaisical amongst many, I wrote a question, “Am I destined for something bigger?”

Sir: Biswadeep, can you entertain us with the answer?

Me [standing up, head hung in shame, rather contemptuously]: No sir.

Sir: Well, sit down, please, perhaps the one next to you? Niladri?

I sit down thanking my luck, today was not one of those bad days. My friend’s turn comes next and he iterates everything I did. He sits, we laugh at each other rather than being ashamed.

Me: I cannot take these classes anymore Nilu, they seem to be draining the life out of me.

Nilu: Yes, and look at all those brainy little Einsteins, striving to be sir’s favourite. We’re beleaguered, I tell you.

Me: Do not forget my dear friend; we still have Maths after this period-

Nilu: As if two hours of Mechanics isn’t enough to torture us with…

At this instant our ‘respected sir’ while making the usual rounds come up to our bench to observe if we’re making any progress to which we start pretending instantaneously; as if we’re busy solving the problem he wrote on board a few minutes ago. I even fake counting my fingers in busy intellection.

Come break, Nilu and I had a dangerous revelation; to bunk tuition for the other half. It was my idea, I had polluted my accomplice’s mind. If successful, we would be the first pair of sneaky bastards to have achieved this feat. Amongst troubles, firstly a security guard who would stand rigorously in front of the gate at all times monitoring closely people going in or coming out of the acclaimed institute. Our only viable choice was to climb over a wall.

First our wretched bags, then us. Albeit my heavy torso proved to be problematic in the beginning, I must say I handled it quite gracefully with Niladri supporting me first with his lean hands and afterwards me dragging his thin, seemingly malnourished body up, all the way to the other side. On the other side of which was, a small stretch of five foot long trees of a housing apartment- the perfect camouflage. Sweet serendipity!

The tea and cigarettes were liberating and it seemed no short of a victory- freedom tasted like an unknown elixir. After our tea, we toured an umpteen number of places until our legs got worn out in the process. At the end of the class matching exactly with the timings, we would innocuously reach the front gate and pretend as if we were present all along. The first day we pretended ourselves to be celebrities and those little Einstiens ogling us as if we had committed some grievous act.

Soon habit grew over me and I got so used to bunking that at a point I even forgot the faces of the faculties teaching there. I changed my bunking mates like a whore changes her clientele. Yes, I was ashamed of myself and the things I did; being intoxicated, drugged and doped on a regular basis, I felt ecstatic and serene. Bunking classes were a way of life now.

*Almost a year and a half later*

I sat in front of a my Physics sir’s office, my father beside me. Yes, I was caught red handed and our Physics sir being our mentor had to look into my matter personally.

Sir: I must say this feat has never been achieved before, in the ten year history of this institute. I must say he has guts.

Saying this, he puts out the register and hands it to my father fingering the trail of voids I left in the attendance column. My father breaks down at this point sobbing and making muffled cries of despair. I did not understand which aspect my father repented more, me bunking classes and not learning a single subject or me wasting almost one and a half lakh of his precious earned money.

Both I guessed. I hated to be right in such situations.

My father: What must I do with him sir? He seems to be beyond helping-

Sir: You do realize your mistake young boy?

I looked at him and then towards my father, I had nothing to say. On sir’s instructions I am told to wait in our classroom; the classroom seemed like an old memory suddenly jogged into existence.

I walk towards my seat at the end edge of the room where I had scribbled a question many months ago-

“Am I destined for something bigger?”

Below the question was a faded ‘YES’ which was crossed and replaced with a big, gruesome ‘NO’.

©Biswadeep Ghosh Hazra

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