As a gift to my nephews I had written a story for them. Completely sick of children's authors trying to put 'layers' into children's books, adding character's sexual preferences, dark themes etc., I wanted to to write an innocent story of four friends. Childhood is innocence, lets them have it till they can. I have themed it like one of those detective novels I used to read as a child, to make it appealing to young boys (and hopefully young girls), as unfortunately I have no nieces (yet!). Anyway, the Chapter 1 of the story follows, let me know what you think! Love it? Hate it? Should I publish it? Do write!
Last day of exams
“Ok come on class, stop writing, ensure your details are filled in and the supplements are properly tied…”
That was Mrs. Chari the exam supervisor shouting quick instructions in her gravelly voice. Tall and stern with her hair tied tight firmly behind her head, she was quite the terror to the students. Her large plastic-brown spectacles formed the perfect frame to her square-ish face and her narrow eyes resting within were the perfect tool to stare down the errant student. And that is something she did very often. While her instructions were usually met promptly, today her ‘firman’ was met with furious scribbling across the class trying frantically to complete that last sum or underline that important sentence.
Anand sat calmly looking around the class…mentally categorising the students still struggling with their papers. It was a simple classification, but an important one. For some that last minute work would mean getting a rank, for others it would mean somehow getting to the pass mark. The final joy in both categories would be the same.
Anand had finished his paper and the customary ‘paper checking’ some time earlier and had spent the last five minutes dreaming of a glorious summer vacation. Now that paper collection was well underway, some students used Mrs. Chari’s divided attention to sneak glances at their friend’s papers seated around them. But Anand was using it to look around and give secret smiles and waves to his best friends seated in three corners of the classroom: Anshu, Sid and Rohan. Anand could not remember a time when the four of them weren’t best buddies. They were his ‘area friends’ as well as ‘school bus friends’ and ‘school mates’ all rolled into one.
Anshu was the group’s artist and many a times his casual doodles were better than their Art teacher’s actual drawings! Bespectacled, tall and with straight hair that fell across his forehead Anshu’s books, be they of any subject, were filled with just one: art. Even though his school work remained incomplete and the previous day’s homework was regularly done in illegible handwriting and at super speed (hence the handwriting) a few minutes before it was checked, Anshu was a bright student and usually managed to score fairly well in class. Even Mrs. Chari indulged him because his quiet demeanour seldom gave any of the teachers a reason to complain.
Mrs. Chari’s disciplinary focus, and indeed that of all teachers (except P.T.), was the mischievous duo of Sid and Rohan. With energy pouring out of their ears, both of them were the bane of the trainee teacher who may have the misfortune of taking the class. Both into sports, they carried their playful spirit in life as well and sometimes their rivalry too. It was not surprising to see Rohan and Sid getting into scraps with each other but always making up before the sun had set. Pulling off the most audacious practical jokes was their specialty with Rohan usually the brain and Sid the brawn of the operation. With their collars upturned and hair messed up, it was not surprising to find both of them sitting together near the back of the class. Despite their reputation, everyone knew the both to be good natured and sporting and also the driving force of all of the Group’s enterprises.
Anand was the glue that bound this tight set of friends together, he was the soul of this group of 10 year olds. Shorter than the others and a little plump, the bespectacled Anand was the teacher’s pet. From settling disputes between Rohan and Sid to critiquing Anshu’s art he played many roles. It was usually Anand who decided when the cricket season was over and it was time to bring out the football or badminton racquets. Good in school work and a front bencher, Anand was at this moment already day dreaming of his vacations!
“So how was it, Anshu?” Anand asked.
“Err…went well…I didn’t get the third question at all, but other than that it was good”
“Yes it was a tough one…what I did for that is I assumed…”
“Oye! Enough now…papers done…now forget it!” Rohan interrupted
“Why, because you didn’t get it either?” Sid giggled
“As if you aced it”
“I could have…”
“In your dreams…”
“How do…” Sid started, but Anand came in “Guys…guys…guys…we have 6 weeks to fight…what is your hurry to start!”
“But he started it….”
“Ok…Ok…chill guys…so what’s the plan for today?”
“Movie?” Rohan ventured
“Nothing good playing, Anshu said, but we can always…”
Just as Anshu was completing the sentence the group bustled out into the open air. All around them students were chatting…some about the paper…some about the holidays…there was a look of relief all around. “More on the teachers face”, Sid thought to himself and smiled.
There is nothing better than the afternoon of the last paper of the final examinations. Even the summer sun seemed mellow…school rivalries were put on hold and even the old school peon Bhalerao managed a toothless grin. Bhalerao was a permanent fixture in the school and stayed on the premises even during holidays. Even parents of students who had gone to the school themselves many years before remembered him being there to ring the school bell. It was a rumour among students that the old peon was ever at his age and time had somehow stopped for him.
Outside, there was an assortment of vendors selling ice cream, vada pav, kulfis and a bunch of other goodies. Anshu, Anand, Rohan and Sid quickly pooled their resources and bought some spiced guavas, a packet of red berries, some tamarind and a handful of boiled, salted peanuts. Once the booty was carefully divided the group mingled with the crowd again. Some last minutes promises were made to phone each other or meet and pencils and pens borrowed earlier in the day were returned with thanks.
“Chalo, lets go home!” Sid pulled everyone impatiently.
As the buddies trudged homeward, Anand, breathing the fresh summer air and looking forward to the aimless days ahead of him, thought,“This will be the best vacation ever!”