Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pocket Money

Ravi and his friends were backbenchers in their class. Others tried to join their group of five students but did not manage to do that. Except all the boys in his group, Ravi was a miser. While his friends used to get decent pocket money, Ravi never had a penny – and that was the prevailing opinion in the class about him. There were occasions when Ravi had some pocket money, but he never really paid for anything. Among his friends, Ravi was popular as someone who didn’t believe in spending money.

Ravi belonged to a middle-class family and his father was a soldier in the Indian Army. The group of five boys was quite notorious among teachers, who always encouraged them to do well. At times, teachers tried other ways like sarcastic comments to jolt those boys from their reveries, but the group never had anything to say in their defence. They would blink at each other during such incidents and then the entire group would pose with smirks.

Every day during recess, one of the boys from their group would buy some sweets or candies for the gang except Ravi. While eating sheepishly with others, Ravi sometimes said that one day, he would throw a grand party. That didn’t happen for a long time except one day!

One day after the first period, when the bell rang, Ravi announced to his group that today they would enjoy some fruit chaat, lots of sweets and candies – and he would pay for all of that. It was a moment of elation and surprise for his group. The boys had a terrific time that day, as they gratified themselves with fruit chaat, Ice cream and Jalebi. Ravi was carrying a few notes of 100 rupees that day and he happily paid for everything. Boys were happy and didn’t bother to ask Ravi about the source of money. 

It was during the seventh period when Hindi teacher Mr. Praveen was elucidating a poem; a burly man entered the classroom. He had a big moustache and broad shoulders. He greeted the teacher and quickly announced that his son Ravi studied in the same class. Teacher greeted him and called out Ravi. Students craned their necks to look back, as Ravi timidly stood up from his seat with his head bowed down. Before Ravi’s father could mutter anything, his teacher said that he could wait outside at the reception and meet Ravi after the class. All this while, Ravi’s father kept staring at Ravi. Then he said, “I want to take Ravi to the Principal and please you also come with me.”

The teacher felt a bit surprised and reiterated that he could wait outside and meet Ravi after the class. Well, Ravi’s father finally left and after five minutes, a peon came and announced that Principal wanted to have a word with Ravi and his four friends immediately. As the boys entered the office, they saw that Ravi’s father was talking to their class teacher and principal was patiently listening to them. The very sight of Ravi made his father furious this time and he snarled, “You thief, how dare you to steal 500 rupees from your home, now you will be punished properly.” Class-teacher intervened and said that he should calm down and then looked at the group and asserted, “So, boys, did Ravi tell anything about money?” He added, “Where did you go during the recess and did Ravi buy anything?” There was a stunned silence in the room for a few moments.

Ravi’s appearance rendered pessimistic because of his stooped shoulders and bowed head. A few beads of sweat began to dangle over the uppermost part of his forehead. The class teacher stared at Ravi’s face in search of those eyes, which could have elicited something, but that did not happen and then he yelled, “Did you do that?” Nothing happened and Ravi stayed stuck to that spot even the principal asked the same question twice. All of a sudden, Ravi’s father stood up, rushed towards his son and slapped him. A sound of thud roared through the office, but Ravi managed to stand his ground. His head bent down and tears rolled down his cheeks. He did not reply again. Everyone was left astounded by that outrageous act of Ravi’s father. Once again, class-teacher intervened and asked Ravi – the same question.  

With steamy eyes, Ravi raised his head and looked at his class-teacher and just for a second, he managed to exchange glances with his friends. As their eyes made contact, all the four boys instantly blinked at Ravi, who was struggling to control a flood of tears. He mumbled a few words and once again his father snarled, “You rascal, you think you can get away with that?” Principal intervened and told Ravi’s father to calm down and then he ordered the peon to bring the class monitor to him. Meanwhile, Ravi managed to exchange glances with his friends and they repeated the act of blinking at him.

Class-monitor Manish entered the room and as soon as he heard about the incident, he said, “Sir, I overheard from other students that Ravi threw a party today and his friends had ice-cream and some sweets.” After he left the room, Principal asked Ravi to tell them the truth. Before Ravi could open his mouth, one of the boys from the group said, “Sir, we were joking about a lot of things today, our monitor must have overheard that.” Yes, we have had ice cream today, but I paid for that. Principal once again asked Ravi, whether it was true or not. As soon as Ravi lifted his head, the blinking game started again and then Ravi said, “Yes sir, he did.”

Now, all the eyes were on Ravi’s father, who growled, “If that is the case, then how it is possible then? I had to pay 6000 Rupees to someone today and I kept that money behind the idol of Lord Krishna at our home yesterday. Only Ravi and his mother knew about that. Today, when I counted the money after Ravi left for the school, there were only 5500 Rupees.” Ravi’s father could not utter the next word, as another boy from the group snapped the conversation and said, “Uncle, did you count that money twice?” Even the stoic principal smiled after hearing that comment. Ravi’s father was furious. He wanted to say something but then looked at Ravi again.

Then, the principal said, “Please Mr. Kumar, now that it has been proved that Ravi didn’t pay for anything, you should just go back home and calm down. You might have misplaced those rupees.” Ravi did not say anything. His father said that he wanted to frisk Ravi, but Principal quickly objected to that and said, “Mr. Kumar, I think your son has had enough already and I don’t want my student to cry again.”

The principal called out for the peon, told him to fetch two cups of tea for him and Ravi’s father, and then ordered boys to return to their class. When they reached halfway, one of the boys quickly held Ravi’s hand and asked other boys that how much money they have had. They needed 5 notes of 100 Rupees and luckily they collected those. They gave Ravi that money and said that he should leave the school immediately and reach home before his father. Well, Ravi returned to his class and told his teacher that he was not feeling well and wanted to go home with his father. While his father was sipping tea with the principal, Ravi quickly left the school and ran towards home. Next day, when Ravi returned to his class, the class monitor smiled at him and chuckled, “So Ravi, can we also join you today for another party?” Ravi looked at him, smiled and said, “No dear, I only enjoy with my friends.”

No comments: