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Missed It

Missed It

18 mins 153 18 mins 153

I got off the two-wheeler and headed to the opposite side of the road, where I saw someone new. A man sitting on a special cycle, pedaling which, would make a small wheel spin and can be used to sharpen knives. He took one of the knives beside him and paddled, but he didn’t move from his place. This produced bright sparks that often appeared in movies. I saw my mother cross the road and go ahead of me and followed her into the grocery market. Now after almost eight years, they have put up a short wall and a netted fence to prevent what, only they know. There were people scattered all over, but the only thing common in all of them was, that each had a cloth bag in their hand and were somewhere in the back of their mind, cursing the grocers for not having the plastic ones. Suddenly they had started following the government’s laws and the environment had been successful in grabbing their attention at last. On the entrance, there were people selling all kinds of cleaning brushes, some selling fried snacks in plastic packets, and some beggars sitting with a steel container in their hand. We walked further towards the grocers where even the air smelt of the bargain. After nearly twenty minutes of buying vegetables, I held nine kilograms in my hand. As we neared the gate, I was relieving more and more, my struggle of holding the bag existed no more. But then my mom took a left turn and entered the fruit section and all my hopes were shattered. All the sellers hawked and promised that their product would be the best and promised to refund, or shave off their mustache or do anything if it wasn’t up to the mark. Some had even cut two or three samples for a trial taste. But everyone who had come here to buy fruits well knew that a hoax turned the sweetest fruit distasteful as soon as they stepped out of the premises. Maybe the fruit sellers have magic in their hands, which makes everything sweet. But still, you would ask ‘Why do the people buy fruits from here if they aren’t good?’ That is one of the unsolved mysteries upon which, no one has yet scratched their heads. We ended our tour by buying some bananas. As the seller handed over the change, I caught a glimpse of some children standing by the gate in the sports academy, waiting for their parents to pick them up. Some were having a nice chat while some were too desperate and had clung on to the gate’s bars. I could very well connect with them. Two years ago, I used to be so bored by the waiting, that I would walk home and meet my mother halfway. I was never scared by the strangers or the road but my mother would always warn me and scold me for doing so. Then for one year I shifted to my school classes and then finally left them for it was going to be my ninth grade and my studies were going to be harder. I wasn’t excellent, but best in my grade when it came to basketball. I knew that I won’t be able to balance between, sports and studies, by seeing at the examples in front of me. We came fourth in a tournament which was my last one played by me. I left without informing my coach and whenever I come across him, I always have a feeling that he is going to scold me or taunt me, but he doesn’t seem to care about that. Maybe he has given up on me. But I still attend my guitar classes, for my passion for music and also that I have been attending them for the past four years. I have still not given a thought on leaving music even after the tenth.

After reaching home I studied gravitation for my exams which were starting in 5 days. I had started preparing earlier to avoid any last-minute chaos. Today like every day, I had resolved to wake up the next day earlier, for every day I slept at midnight. It was 11:00 pm by the clock. I packed my bag which took twenty-three minutes. I kept my bag beside my bed and stumbled upon two which belonged to my careless sister. “Why don’t you keep these in your cupboard? I have told you about this at least a million times.” “Please keep it aside yourself, don’t try to act like a mom.” She was in Third-year MBBS but still wasn’t mature enough. Her college was in the next city and therefore, she traveled to and fro. “It is good that you are shifting to college hostel today. I can have the whole room to myself; my bag on the floor, shoes on your bed, books in every corner. I think I will repaint and replace the Purple with Black.” “Seriously, is black your choice of wall paint? You are saying this because currently, I am with you. You will see it after I go. You are going to be bored without me, I bet you.” “Ha! Whatever.” Then I thought to play till 11:45 and then sleep afterward. I went into my mom’s room; she was checking her messages and looked at me “Are you sleeping now?” “Nah, I want to play for some time and then I will sleep.” “Have you packed your bag?” “Yes, I have.” “Okay, but don’t make it too late. After playing attach it to the charger and check the alarm volume. You always forget to reset it.” With this, she handed me her phone. “Good night, bye.” I opened the game and checked my friend Aakash’s profile whose user name was chosen after much thought ‘DeadTrix’. I looked at his profile and saw his Kill/Dead ratio 1.7 and mine which was 0.97. I could never understand how he could be so good in a First Person Shooter? He never had that gamer vibe or never has he ever given a hint of being interested in video games. He was even ranked as gold. “Play it more and you will improve at it.” He had said. “How much time did it take you?” “3 months for me. For you, maybe 3 years at least.” It was just that I wasn’t that proficient with a mobile screen than a PC. I was at least a 1000 times better at PC gaming. I continued to play and went to bed at 11:45.

A day before the Science paper

I was studying at 9:00 am when I got a call from Aakash. “Hello, Rakesh?” “Yeah, what happened?” “Have you done questions 5 and 8 of the physics textbooks?” “Let me check…yeah, I have done it.” “Please send it to me. How much of your course is left.” I never expected such a question like that from anyone. He sounded worried. “Mine, Physics last two chapters and Bio last two chapters. What about you?” “I have whole physics and biology left.” “How will you do it? The first chapters of all the subjects are very lengthy.” “I don’t know how I would be able to do so. Please send me the pictures.” “Sure” I received another call at 3:30 pm, “Yeah, What is it?” “Hey are the characteristics of plant tissue coming in the exam?” “Yes, ma’am made us underline it.” “Oh! Thank you. Is your course complete?” “No, I just completed Physics. Now I am going to take a break of an hour and a half and then complete Biology. Where have you reached?” “I am about to complete Biology last chapter. And then, I am done. Then revision at 9.” “What? How did you do it? Did you just read it or even comprehend it?” “Just did it. Bye,” He won’t have done such a big course in a matter of hours. He is talking rubbish by all means. That night I was awake till 12:30 am.

On the day of the science paper

I got out of the exam hall feeling a little relieved. The paper wasn’t excellent but it wasn’t a disaster also. Whoever I asked said that their paper went the same as mine. This gave me a sense of relief that the paper was truly difficult after all. It was a timely task of gathering in front of the dining hall and discussing the test papers. “How many did you lose?” I asked Neha and Meera. “I lost 10 marks in the last section.” Said Meera “And I have lost 4 marks.” said Neha. “Why do I even ask you both? Lie all you want, on the day of the result you both are going to get the highest marks among us. This is the case every year.” “No, I really lost 10 marks; it was the worst of all till now.” “What about that time, when you said you went to ASSET examination without preparation and topped the state. This is the same situation here.” “It is true, I- “Shhhh!” I silenced her because I knew her pretexts. “How was it DeadTrix? I think you shall rename yourself to Flash.” “Haha, it was good.” “I think you mean excellent.” “Just good.” He stretched his hands towards the ground and tried to crush the ants running about. I knew about Jai and Aman, whose marks were miles away from ‘good’ and even they didn’t give a damn about it.

The case was the same before the Social Science paper when he completed the whole history and geography in a day and I was studying till 2:00 am. After the paper, I had created history; for in the last five years that was the worst paper ever given by Rakesh Sharma. I was crying from inside, it felt like regret was corroding me from the inside because for me it was the end of the world. I put on that solemn face as nothing had happened and that I was going to score 65 out of 60. I showed like I was worth a zillion bucks. I reached home and kept my belongings in their place. When I am upset, I am organized and when I am happy, I am like the stars in the sky. I called my mother and she asked about the paper. And like a computer program who responds on certain words and recognizes the voice, I said the word which I have said every alternative day in the past week “Excellent!” “Oh good, I have cooked the food and all you need to do is put it in the microwave so that it turns hot.” “Okay, thanks. Bye.” You never tell your mother, how your paper ‘really went’ that too if it is your science paper.

A week after the last paper, we received our first result in mathematics. Out of 60, I got 53. I hated it because it was not at all equivalent to the work that I had put into it. I sat on my place checking my paper for any calculation mistakes, which was a futile task. I saw someone’s shadow over me. I saw Aakash and he asked me “How much man?” “54, and you?” “1.5 marks less.” “52.5?” “No, it is 58.5, simple math man.” And he gave me his shoulder shaking, teeth exposing laugh. Mine was half of the disgust and the other halves of confusion. “How did you do it?” “I am Aakash man, secret big secret.” “Not going to tell me are you?” “You know it’s a no.” I looked at how he smirked. Two years back he was just completely opposite and didn’t care about his studies. He would just sit on one spot with the other goons and humiliate people. He lost marks because he was too distracted. Aisha had gone to New York a year ago, for her father had been transferred. She was “the distraction” for Aakash. Now he has learned to walk but there is no change in his attitude.

He moved around in the class waving his paper and showing it to everyone. I suppressed the anger in me and gave up. I knew that all these marks would be reduced to five and I would be getting a score of around 4.4. But still, my performance wasn’t up to the mark and I had a lot to practice for the final 80 marks test which was going to be taken as a whole.

To add fuel to the fire, we also received our science paper on that very day. “Hey, Rakesh, I am very nervous. I have lost 10 marks in the last two questions.” In my mind, I had beaten him up and given a lesson for lying to people about his marks. When my roll number was called, I saw utter disappointment on the teacher’s face. While handing me the paper she said, “Could have done very much better.” “I know that it went bad.” It was 47. Aakash was on his run again for that messed up boy had miraculously scored 57 out of 60. It felt like I was pushed from the top of a cliff and landed on a pit of dirt and boulders. “It happens with everyone, but astonishingly never happened with me.” said DeadTrix, who patted me on the back like an experienced old man and in a second broke into that annoying laughter. “Go AWAY!”

I sat on a corner of the bed; my cheeks had wet pathways that were leading to my eyes. I rubbed my eyes again as if this would lock the doors of the eyes and called up my mother. “Hello, mom?” “Rakesh, how was school?” “Oh, we did nothing today.” “Did you receive any papers?” “Umm yes, we did, Mathematics and Science.” “Is it? They checked it pretty fast, didn’t they?” “Yes, very quick these teachers are. I got 53 and 47 respectively.” I expected her to scream at me and taunt me. But instead, she asked, “Why?” This question boggled my mind as if I was held upside down. There was no answer to the question. These things just exist; there is no ‘Why?’ It was futile to question it. “Tell me, son, why did this happen? We both know that you had worked hard. Then what happened now?” There was not an increase of a single decibel in her voice. This is what scared me, this hurt more than the scream and scolding. “In the Math paper I knew the answer but at the moment, I couldn’t figure out the answer. The pressure of the time made me do silly mistakes. In the science paper, the teachers are too strict. They just want students to score fewer marks. They cut marks where they don’t even need to. And I think I should leave these science tuitions. They give me a feeling of being handicapped. The tuition teacher gets angry when we ask her a question or when she is proved wrong. She even has a different order than the school. I understand more in school than I understand there. It is just a waste of time. We just read the textbook there, and she explains the paragraphs which can be easily comprehended as they are in simple English. I think I should move back to self-study.” “Listen, child. If that was the scene, then you could have told me earlier. Now we have also paid the fee for the second half. Currently, it is mid-November, 3 more months and then the classes are over. What about mathematics? I know that Math tuitions are great.” “Yes, I didn’t say anything against them. They are perfectly alright. It was just during the paper that I couldn’t apply some formulas or had missed some steps.” “That is why I always tell you to recheck the paper thrice, before submitting it.” “I know but there was less time. Wait till the final exams in February those will be a lot better than this.” “Okay, we will see. About the Science classes, I will talk with you about that after I come home. Now go and have your food, then you also have your Math class. Bye.” “Bye” and I cut the phone.

A week later we got all our papers my score was

Math: 52

Science: 47

English: 50.5

IT: 54

Social Science: 45

In our group, Aakash had scored the most marks in all the subjects. Surprisingly his marks were more than that of Neha and Meera who could come first in any competitive exam even without preparation. “I wish Aisha was here to distract you from this entire grade race. Then we could see how you focus elsewhere,” said Neha. “What is your final score in all the subjects?” Meera asked Aakash. “I got-

Math: 58.5

Science: 56

English: 49

IT: 57

Social Science: 59”

He doesn’t even an iota of knowledge about computer but he still managed to score more than me. The only good score I have from him is in English, which doesn’t count because it is a language. Even if they are better, the difference is only 1 mark.

The other day they were standing in front of the dining hall I entered the conversation “Hey, Rakesh were you the garbage that I came across while coming to school because you have a quite resemblance to it. Everyone was trying to hide their laugh but couldn’t refuse to appreciate the dunce’s action. Aakash gave me a cold look and said “L-o-l” the whole group broke into laughter and turned into a bunch of crazy hyenas. Then he would say something lame from the latest movie and just say the joke as if he wrote it himself. Their bellies would ache at anything stupid he said. “Hey, tell me one thing Rakesh.” “What?” “Did anyone tell you to join us?” “No, but I thought I didn’t need anyone’s permission.” “No please, no one wants you here, bye.” “That is completely false. Do you all think so too?” No one answered, he waved at me and others too raised their hands to join him. I thought that it was some kind of a prank and would stop in a second or two, but they continued. My face was burning and my fingers were turning into a fist, my nails digging into my palms. I was blank and couldn’t think of anything to say. Then suddenly as if a volcano had exploded which could no longer remain dormant, I burst out “Fine! I HATE you all?” I decided to not talk to them ever again. I looked at Aakash and wondered ‘How could a goon be so intelligent, good at talking with people and be good in both sports and videogames? He was just too right for society. He is just made up of lucky plastic and loaded with arrogance. I wanted to end it all, I couldn’t take him anymore.’ 

A week later

The school bell rang declaring the end of the day. I walked slowly and scrupulously in order to make no noise. My hand clutching the handle of the knife kept in my shoulder bag, my palm covered in sweat. My eyes filled with hatred and fixed upon my target, on his way home. It was the day when I had decided to do some purging. He took a left and entered the empty street. I finally took out the knife pointing towards him. I asked myself that ‘Is this really necessary? Is it the correct thing to do? Yes, a person like him deserved it. He doesn’t care about anything or anyone in the world except for himself. For him every incorrect thing was appropriate.’ Then a voice in my head spoke “Remember Rakesh, the time when he had come with his companions and insulted you in front of the whole class and taken your friends away from you. Last year, when he had destroyed your image and snatched your main character for the inter-school drama. When he couldn’t bear a joke, he had lost his temper and fractured your hand with his steel bottle, because of which you were unable to be part of the basketball team for the tournament. 3 months ago when he spilled water all over your notebooks and said that it was an accident. Every single time he escaped, but not this time.” I have to end this ruthless devil. I took out the knife, shutting off any second thought and stabbed him in the back. I stabbed him multiple times and closed his mouth with my left hand to suppress any cries for help. My hands covered in blood some splattered on my shirt, and happiness all over my mind. I threw the knife and ran, my heart beating at a rapid rate and the dopamine rushing into my veins. I took a left turn and it was a dead-end, I ran back but bars stood blocking my course and in a matter of seconds I was in the court hearing my sentence. I being crushed by the burden and looking for a way to join him.

I snapped out of reality, my hand was still in my bag clutching the handle. I took it out, without the knife. “Hey Aakash, listen.” As soon as he turned, I gave him a tight punch across his face and he fell on the ground, blood running down from his nostrils. He was holding his nose with both his hands and swearing under his breath. I gave him 4 punches and two kicks; I was keeping track of every single hit and its impact. He lay moaning on the ground. I held him by the hair, but watching his pain, withdrew it. And instead, grabbed his collar whispered into his ear “I don’t think, you have learned anything, but explaining to you something is an execution in futility. I hope you know what it means. Try telling anyone what happened today and you will never wake. Now you better be careful when talking to anyone and think over before speaking anything because if there was anything in that little head of yours, it would now know that others feel too.” I took out the phone from his pocket and called his mother. I turned on the speaker and told him to talk. He told her the place and that he was injured and not beaten up due to his actions. Then, I took it out of his hand and smashed it with my bottle, took the pieces and kept them in his hand. “So kid, I hope we don’t have a rendezvous like this again. Be good so that you stay safe, else you know the rest; if not me then somebody.” In the real world, I didn’t run like I had done something wrong because it hadn’t. I walked as if enjoying the pleasant day and that my deeds were good. My gait reflected my conscience.

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