“Children, only one hour left.”
Oh man, so less time? What will I do. I gave another look to the amazingly depressed looking question paper. Crap! I didn’t want to solve it. But alas! I knew most of the answers. My conscience will not let me live peacefully if I don’t write things that I know correctly. While I was at war with myself, I heard something.
“Miss, he exchanged his old pilot pen with my brand new pilot pen”
It was Kasturika. She was sitting in the front seat in the next row. I was sitting third from front. We used to give exams with our seniors. They thought this would help stop cheating. Little did they know that seniors are better help than classmates. This guy, about whom she was complaining was also a senior.
“No miss, I did not exchange the pen.”
I was getting distracted now. I was as it is not able to concentrate on my paper. And this girl was shouting on top of her voice.
“Miss it was my birthday yesterday. Himanshu gifted me this pilot pen set. See, this one is new and look at the one I am holding, its scratched. He exchanged his old pen with my new pen. Please get it changed”
She was almost…ALMOST about to cry. The teacher was dam’n confused now. She didn’t know what to do. The pens looked exactly same. She was trying her best to locate even one scratch. Then an idea hit her.
“Himanshu gifted you this pen right? Alright. Call him. He only will decide.”
No, NO….this was what I was dreading. I so much didn’t want to leave my paper and go. But I had to. I got up and reached her desk. I too got really confused because both were brand new pens.
“Its difficult miss. Both are new pens. I gifted her in packed condition. I did see the pen so closely that I can tell.”
I saw all the hope on Kasturika’s face getting lost. I had to do something.
Then I suddenly realized something even worse had just happened. Oh God! I was holding both the pens in one hand. Now I couldn’t make out which one was whose. Brilliant Himanshu! I told myself. There must be some way out. I thought of matching the pen with the other one in the set. Something would definitely look similar.
“Give me the other pen!”
She obediently gave me the other pen of the set. I compared. OH MAN! All of them are new and of the same shade. I still tried hard to find the nearest match as far as the body color was concerned. I gave her a pen and then gave that guy a pen. None of them said anything. I was glad it was over. It took 10mins. Grrrr…..I hate it. I ran back to my seat and finished my paper.
I and Kasturika used to stay in the same colony. And we used to commute to school by a special bus run by PAC for officers’ kids. The pick up point was very near to my house. We all gathered there early morning and got in the bus together.
I was walking towards the bus stop and I could see Kasturika telling something very seriously to Pratyush bhaiya (yes, for a class fifth kid, anyone elder is bhaiya or didi. Moreover, the guy was really sweet). The moment she saw me approaching, she got furious and starting moving towards me. I got shocked (NOW WHAT HAPPENED!!).
“Youuuuuuuuuu….you gave me his pen. I called you so that you can do justice but you too give me that old pen only. Couldn’t you see this pen is so old and scratched. How could you not see? I checked it at home last night and found it to be that guy’s pen. I thought you would be able to see it that which is my pen. But no, you have buttons for eyes! I so much loved my pen. That was my birthday gift. How could he exchange it from me? And you couldn’t do anything!! Now look, my pen set looks so incomplete and weird. Two brand new shiny pens and this…old, dirty, scratched pen.”
And she went back again and started crying. Mummy!! Why do girls start crying so quickly?
I went to her and tried to explain that I couldn’t see a difference so it was very difficult to decide. But who listens to a boy who has buttons for eyes! I even suggested that why don’t you exchange it again today. How does that matter? But NO! She disagreed. Girls I tell you. We heard the bus hooting at a distance and we all prepared to board the bus.
On the way, she was angry for sometime but Pratyush bhaiya and I managed to cheer her up.