PRESUMED GUILTY

Hey! I’m back (after an year). Its not that I didn’t have anything to post, I was too busy or at the other times, too lazy to open up my blog and publish some stuff.

So, I’m going to share a story I wrote in the summer last year (yeah, I know… I’m damn late)

Well, so this story came about after a 10 classes course full of fun and amazing activities. All the merit of making me confident about the stories I write, and the wildest flights my imagination takes, goes to Vibha Malhotra ma’am. *victory music in the background* She is just an amazing teacher. She knows how to blend fun with learning, and made this course the most wonderful experience of my life as a short story writer. So I sincerely want to thank Vibha ma’am and Literature Studio for the splendid course, and of course Sangeeta aunty who told me about this course. Seriously, this story would not have been possible without these two amazing ladies. 😀 ❤

The original story that I wrote during the course is published at Literature Studio. But since my school English teacher got so impressed by this story and wanted it to be published i our school magazine – Sagarika, I shortened it. So here is the edited version. And if you want to see the original story, click the link above! 🙂 🙂

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I peeked timidly into our class. Rajiv Choudhary, our Political Science teacher, was leaning against the teacher’s desk, waving his thin bony arms to the rest of the class. Dr. Choudhary was an easy target of ridicule of the students, especially due to his old fashioned ways and peculiar dressing sense. Today, I was late for his class as I had gone to submit my entry for “Words and More” the prestigious Inter school story writing competition. I was the favourite student of all my teachers. The only exception to this rule was Dr. Choudhary. He would always favor Amish Marwah over me and I could not, for the life of me, figure out why! How could he prefer that clumsy and diffident oaf over me! I, who had won the epithet of Hermione Granger for my eagerness to impress the teachers and answer all their questions.

“May I come in sir?”

“You are late, Geeta. Hurry up now and let’s get on with our discussion.”

What, no scolding? Was he being sarcastic, I wondered as I murmured an apology on my way to my seat.

“I have decided who is going to be the monitor of this class” he announced. All my friends looked at me in expectation. I knew it had to be me this time. I held my breath.

“Amish Marwah.”

I woke up from my day dream. What the hell? Amish? Seriously? He can never carry out any responsibilities. He is always sitting at his corner desk and reading some book or scribbling and doodling away in his notebook.

Just wait till other teachers find out that sir has made Amish his monitor! Oh, how will they laugh at his foolishness! I don’t know whether this is jealousy, but I do want to know why Dr. Choudhary is so partial to Amish, who, in my opinion, is the least deserving of us all.

“A week from today,” Dr. Choudhary said, “We will have a discussion on Federalism. I want you all to give your views on equal representation in federalism.”

This was my chance to prove to him how intelligent I was and how wrong he was in favouring Amish over me. I spent hours preparing for the activity.  I was confident that I would secure the highest marks and would make a lasting impression on Dr. Choudhary.

On the day of the debate the class was tense as Dr. Choudhary began calling the students one by one. It seemed like eternity before he called my name, “Geeta Gupta.” I walked with full confidence to the podium and stood facing everyone. I glanced at Amish. Suddenly a disturbing thought crossed my mind. What if he performs well? He will get all the praise. I silently scolded myself for distracting my thoughts, but my eyes kept on moving towards Amish all through my speech.

“I am of the strong opinion that everyone should be treated equally and no person or community should be favored. The system of reserved seats in jobs and schools created at the time of Independence was introduced to help the backward come forth and play a role in the development of the country. But now, it has been more than 60 years since we became an independent country. All the citizens of the country now enjoy equal resources. So what is the need of reservations? The deserving and capable students should be helped to grow more and reach new heights totally on the basis of merit, irrespective of caste, gender, and religion.”

I walked back to my seat very pleased with myself. “Very well done, Geeta. You are truly a smart young girl.” Dr. Choudhary beamed at me. Aha! Finally you realised. I smiled back.

“Amish Marwah.” Dr. Choudhary nodded at him with his ever-encouraging smile.

He walked with clumsy steps to the front of the class. The look on his face made me laugh at myself. I was afraid of him?

He started speaking “Federalism is more than just equal distribution of power. You all know that India is a federal country. But isn’t Jammu and Kashmir a special state? Hasn’t it been given a special status? Well, does this change India from being a federal country? No. There are some exceptions to fair and equal distribution. And of course there is the aspect of Justice. Everyone cannot be treated equally. The less-developed states such as Bihar have to be given special status. The less peaceful states like J & K have to be given special status. They will lag behind the country if they are not given extra resources and help from the center. Thus, I sincerely feel that there are some who really need a little help to achieve self-confidence and self-respect.”

“Amish my boy,” he continued, “I am so proud of you. You are genuinely working towards achieving great heights. I am very happy that you have improved so much. Always keep trying and have faith in yourself.”

That did it! He was being unfair. I couldn’t stand it anymore,

“Excuse me? What is the meaning of all this?” I spoke out. “Here you are, going on and on and on praising Amish! And ‘Very well done’ is all you have to say to me? You are the most biased and unjust teacher ever.” I felt that I was shouting, but I couldn’t help it. “And you Amish. You are the biggest fool of this class.” Amish looked as if he was about to break into tears. He deserves it, I told myself. “Dr. Choudhary tells you that you are brilliant. But let me tell you. He is lying. You are nothing but a fool. Everyone makes fun of you, and I bet, even Dr. Choudhary jokes about you with rest of the teachers.” Amish looked at Dr. Choudhary and ran out of the class with tears streaming down his face.

I, too, walked out of the classroom. “Geeta, wait. Please, both of you listen to me once. Oh, don’t cry Amish.” I heard Dr. Choudhary call out, but I didn’t stop. Rage was brewing up in my head. I saw Dr. Choudhary looking at me. “Oh dear. You are crying too,” he said. I shouted, “I am NOT crying!” But even as I said that I felt a tear run down my left cheek. I ran down the stairs “Geeta, come back. Please hear me out.” I heard a pleading voice from behind. I paid no heed

I descended the steps with my thoughts quite clear. This biased and unfair teacher had no right to stay in our school any longer. I wouldn’t rest until he is out of the school, I told myself.

I stopped in front of the brown, elegant door with “PRINCIPAL” written on top of it in bold letters. I straightened myself and knocked at the door. “Come in.” I walked in and the Principal looked up questioningly. I took a deep breath and began, “Sir, I’m Geeta Gupta of class X D. Sorry to interrupt you, but the matter is quite serious…”

He listened grimly to my tale of woe and said, “Dr. Choudhary is a good teacher. Surely there has to be a convincing reason behind his actions.”

I heard the door opened behind me. There was Dr. Choudhary standing there. “I am terribly sorry for bursting in like this. I thought that I would find Geeta here,” he said and looked at me.

“Your guess was quite right. And now that you are here, I would like you to answer a few questions,” Principal Sir said.

Dr. Choudhary looked in my direction “I only wanted to help Amish come forth. I saw through his work that he is a talented young boy. I feel that the smart students can take care of themselves and their studies without the help of teachers, but it’s the below average students who need our help. And I was trying to do just that. But since my actions are not acceptable, I’ll only say that I’m sorry for all the trouble I have caused. And I wish to no longer be a nuisance to you and to my students.” Having said this, he turned around and walked out of the door.

I saw him go out of the school building through the window. Principal Sir followed my gaze, “Well, that’s it. Now we are again short of a Political Science teacher.”

That afternoon, when I reached home, I found a letter addressed to me. It was from “Words and More, Story-Writing Competition”, a chill ran down my spine. The results have finally come! I will surely bag a prize. With the letter containing the results in my hand, I frowned as I remembered how Dr. Choudhary had encouraged Amish to participate in this competition and hadn’t said a word to me.

I brushed aside the thoughts of Dr. Choudhary and Amish and read the letter. I stood up in surprise as I read the results. My name was nowhere to be found!

And look who came second – Amish Marwah! What did this boy have that he is shining in every field? What is so special about him? Was Dr. Choudhary right? Is he really talented? All the events of the day of the debate flashed in front of my eyes. I felt guilty. Had I been too harsh on Amish? Should I have thought once before breaking into such an outburst?

That evening I reached Amish’s house. A servant opened the door and led me to Amish’s room. The room was a mess. And in the midst of the mess, sat Amish, scribbling away in his little notebook. He looked up at me, “Geeta? What are you doing here?”

I didn’t know what to say. I just showed him the letter, “I… Congratulations Amish.”

He smiled, “Oh this! So I sent my story a few days back. It was a shock to me too. When Dr. Choudhary told me that I could do it, I didn’t believe him. I smiled back at him, “Congratulations again.”

I sat for hours in his room. We talked about all that had happened to both of us during the past week. When I came out, I was feeling better. But I had realized the wrong I had done to Dr. Choudhary. I should have at least heard what he wanted to tell, before taking such a drastic step. I wished I could, for once, meet him and beg his forgiveness.

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