Lekhchand was happy to receive respite from the last 2 periods of the day over the next two weeks. That, these periods happened to be mostly Mathematics only multiplied the happiness. The annual day was approaching, and more than half the class had departed to various sections of the building, to prepare for the event. Since Lekhchand couldn’t sing or dance, the only avenue left for him was to be involved with was drama. Anyone with an initiative would be given a role, most will be given at least a dialogue, and a few of the teachers favorite pupils would be given sheets of them.

Last year, Lekhchand had played the part of an old man with 3 dialogues which he had been made to  mutter at least 300 times over the course of these days. His mother had been proud, and couldn’t stop praising him for being so clear on the microphone. He was embarrassed by it, because he knew it wasn’t much of a challenge. The old wife of his too was someone he did not like being associated with.  Oh! How his heart would have been gladdened if the wife had been the girl he liked. He’d had daydreams where his wife would be replaced, and in would come the girl he so desperately wanted to be in his vicinity. Soon enough, these daydreams died and Lekhchand went through the days of practice with resignation and boredom.

This year though, he decided that staying in class and playing games like Pen-fight was a much better use of time. So much he’d grown, he would think to himself.

***

Shalini Garg did not like to be given substitution duties. She had been a trained Bharat Natyam dancer, and would have loved to choreograph the invocation dance. But, when she had mentioned her desire to Mrs. Dutt, she had apologetically said that Anjum had been doing it for the last 4 years.  Shalini was promised a chance for some later event. So many convocation dances happen.

But what good was it to see things that are in the past. In another 5 minutes, she would have to leave for 9th B. A class she had never entered before. She collected a bunch of notebooks that was pending correction, took a sip of water from her bottle and bid goodbye to the 2 other teachers in the staff room.

Entering the class, she saw a bunch of kids at the back playing pen-fight. Having seen this game before, and being irritated by the sound of pens crashing and falling, she decided to cut their party.

****

Lekhchand was shocked and angered by the teacher (whatever her name was) for taking away their pens. Taking note of her movement, he had saved the Parker from confiscation just in time. It wasn’t his, but he’d saved it, and for which his friend should be grateful.

Instinctively, he followed his friends to request the teacher to return it. “Never again” was promised, and the teacher returned it after telling them to write an essay on “Make Hay While The Sun Shines” in 500 words.

****

Shalini had learned to not give too much leverage to indiscipline but these sorry, requesting faces of students had always melted her. What would she do with the pens anyway. She had ordered to make a better use of them by writing an essay.

Her mind drifted towards thoughts of her home. Her husband would return from his official tour from abroad. She remembered not being too happy with him, the few days before his departure. He had shown no sensitivity, no eye for her reactions, all the while only making calls, reading mails and politely asking for tea and various bills in between. He had expressed in a few gestures his guilt at not paying attention when she had wanted to bring up the topic, but that he never took any action established that he was doing something much more important.

It was amongst these thoughts, that her face drifted to a boy smiling to himself while writing. And, it was for these images that she’d taken up the profession. How innocent is the way in which these minds work. And, what joy was it to provide jolts to their mind.

***

An essay given by a substitute teacher without the constraint of compulsory submission had provided Lekhchand with a unique opportunity. He didn’t see the point to proverbs. If you want to say “grab the opportunity when luck is there” then say that. Why this, “Make hay while the sun shines” nonsense.

He decided to ignore the meaning given in his textbooks, and see only its literal meaning. And, thus he began, not knowing actually how hay is made, but surely the sun and its heat had a lot to do with it. Further inquiries suggested that a certain brand of oil must not be kept near the hay because it was advertised as a cool oil and would nullify the effect of the sun. Lekhchand felt a strange thrill, as he put the word ‘nullify’ on paper. He was confident that not many in his class could use it appropriately, and he had only newspapers and magazines and thriller novels to credit for this.

He ended the note with an instruction that was inspired from the WWE advertisement he subjected himself to every day without fail. It read- “Whoever you are, whatever you do, please don’ try this at home.”

He found his efforts extremely hilarious, and was delighted to see a couple of his friends taking too much time to read because they were laughing uncontrollably in between. The mention of the ‘cool oil’ being a deterrent, he noticed was popular among everyone he showed it too.

One thing was clear to him, that nothing- not even scoring that fluke goal in a games period, or receiving a fresh copy of that Harry Potter book after a year of waiting- had made him happier than this.

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