Akash Gill was a jovial boy with pleasing manners. He was slightly plump. He had a crooked nose and curly hair with grey eyes and a fair complexion. He never shied away from participating in extracurricular activities. He never lost his temper even if someone made fun of him. Whenever he was upset, he would be silent and preferred to stay alone.
He had joined Sri Krishna Public School in New Delhi. He was in 7th grade.
It was his first day at new school.
Akash Gill ate his breakfast quickly and got ready to leave for the school. His mother Sharda said " Hurry up, or you will miss your school bus. Hope you didn't forget any of your textbooks or notebooks. Make sure that you have taken the additional pen." Akash snapped at her and said " I am getting late. Thanks for your words of wisdom." He rushed out and ran at top speed to catch the bus. He reached his new school on time. The classes commenced at 9.15 AM sharp. Akash came forward to introduce himself following his class teacher's direction. He was shocked to see hostility in the eyes of some students. The others looked at him without any interest. He went back to his seat with a smile. He was heartbroken to see that he was not welcome to join them. He felt like an alien. He controlled his emotions and continued taking notes. He listened to every word spoken by the teacher with rapt attention. He ignored the rude remarks made by some of his classmates.
Finally, the school bell rang. Akash was relieved to go home. When he reached home, his mother inquired about his day at school.
He replied "The teachers are excellent, but I can't say the same about my classmates. They were unfriendly and looked at me as if I had some communicable disease." His mother laughed and said " Don't worry. They will accept you as their friend."
Nearly a month passed since Akash joined the school. True to his mother's words, most of the students were friendly with him. There was a boy called Arun who despised him. He was the class bully. He had an imposing figure and an intimidating personality. Arun had a couple of friends following him. He used them as his partners in mischief. The other students were scared of him. He used to threaten them to do his bidding. His father worked as a personal secretary to the minister of education for the state
The class teacher of 7th grade was Mrs.Sudha R. She taught them English. She was known to be an impartial teacher. She was asking questions from the lesson that she had recently taught. Akash answered all the questions correctly whereas Arun kept mum. The teacher praised Akash and scolded Arun for wasting his time instead of studying.
Arun was burning with hatred for Akash. He wanted to seek revenge for his humiliation.
He got an opportunity to settle the scores with Akash. He launched fake attacks on his buddies and pinned the blame on Akash by complaining to their class teacher.
Arun accused him of hurting his friends when they approached him for taking back their notebooks that they had lent him.
Several students backed his claim. The class teacher frowned. She asked him," Explain your behaviour. I did not expect this from a brilliant student like you." " But madam," Akash protested," I did not beat them. I haven't seen their notebooks." " Let me check your bag. Bring it here at once." The class teacher ordered him. Akash felt his cheeks reddening with embarrassment. He handed over his bag to her. When she opened the bag she recovered two notebooks belonging to Mehul and Vishal. " What do you have to say now?" thundered Mrs Sudha. Akash hung his head and did not offer any explanation. He knew that the circumstantial evidence was against him. It was futile to argue with the teacher. He said " I am sorry. I assure you that I will not repeat this kind of action in future."
The teacher softened a bit and said," Very well. I will you give you another chance. If I hear any more complaints about you, you will be sent to the principal's office."
Arun and his gang members sniggered at Akash's predicament. After reaching home, Akash dropped his school bag on the couch. He removed his shoes and socks. His mother gave him milk and sandwiches. He told her everything about his ordeal. She consoled him and urged him not to lose his confidence.
When he went to school the following day, Arun and his friends made fun of him. Arun also criticized their class teacher for believing in his bundle of lies. Their class teacher who was about to enter the class overheard everything. She lost her temper and slapped Arun. " How dare you frame an innocent boy for a crime he didn't commit? You should be ashamed. I want you and your friends to apologize to Akash," she ordered them. She turned towards him and said, " I am sorry for causing you a major embarrassment." Akash replied," It's alright, madam. There is no need to say sorry." Arun and his friends apologized to him. Akash was happy to be cleared of the false charges.
Arun was determined to punish Akash. He wanted him to get expelled from the school.
The class teacher announced that their monthly tests were going to be held in the following week. Akash was well prepared for the tests.
Their monthly tests began on Monday. Their first paper was English. Akash was absent on that day. Arun thought of another plan. After submitting his answer sheet, Arun said,"Today I saw Akash loitering in the premises of Hanuman Temple. I asked him to appear for the test. He asked me to mind my own business." Mrs Sudha was amused. She asked him " Why are you telling me this cock and bull story?" Arun was taken aback. He said," I thought that it was my duty to inform you about Akash. If you don't believe me, my friends can vouch for me." She questioned several students who claimed to have seen Akash in the temple. The temple was only a few blocks away from the school. Mrs Sudha was disappointed to learn that her favourite student was accused of another wrongdoing. She collected all the answer sheets and proceeded towards the staff room. " Please wait a minute," she heard someone shouting behind her back. She turned around to find Mrs Laxmi Gupta running towards her. She said " Sudha Madam, I was looking for you. I wanted to inform you that I had sent Akash back home from the school bus. You know, both of us travel by the same bus. He had a sudden bout of an asthmatic attack. I called his mother to pick him up from Gopal Nagar bus stop. I could not come earlier because of my classes." Arun and his friends had lied to her again. She said, " Thank you." They chatted with each other for ten minutes and went to the staff room. Mrs Sudha could not digest the fact that some of her students were liars and conspirators. The tests were over. The class teacher had sought permission to allow Akash to appear for the tests at a later date. Meanwhile, she thought of a plan to teach Arun a lesson that he would never forget.
She sent for one of her students called Rahul during lunchtime. She whispered something in his ear. He grinned and gave a thumbs up sign.
They were going to have the English class immediately after lunch.
The lunchtime was over and the classes resumed. The students occupied their seats and opened their books. Rahul cried out," Madam, my English book is missing." The teacher was annoyed. She said, "You must have left the book at home." Rahul insisted that he had the book with him till the lunch period. Mrs Sudha asked one of the students to search everybody's school bag. It was recovered from Arun's bag. The teacher gave him a stern look and said," Well, do you have any explanation for your obnoxious behaviour?"
Arun stammered," P...pl...please, believe me, madam. I did not steal anything. You can ask Mehul and Vishal. I was playing with them." The teacher asked them about the theft. Both of them denied that they were with Arun. Mehul said that he was in the canteen while Vishal told her that he was playing football with his friends. Arun was horrified at the blatant lie told by his friends. He clenched his fist and yelled at them," You both are cowards and liars! How can you let me down by lying?"
The teacher shook him before commenting," Relax! Now tell me how do you feel after being accused of a crime that you have not done?"
Arun was unable to meet her eyes. " You have framed Akash twice for no rhyme or reason. You lied to me about Akash beating your friends and wandering around during the test. Why did you do this to him?"
Arun replied with his head hung in shame, " I am very sorry, Madam. I tried to get him expelled because he was too good at studies. I felt insulted when you appreciated him but scolded me in front of the entire class. I was afraid of losing out to him." " You should apologize to Akash for your bad behaviour. This was just a drama to make you realize your mistake. Hope you will set a better example for the class."
Next day, Akash was surprised to find a greeting card with ' I am sorry. Will you be my friend?' written over it on his desk. Arun walked up to him and said sorry. Akash smiled at him and gave him a big hug. Both of them shook their hands and buried the hatchet.
Arun found a true friend. He stopped hanging out with Mehul and Vishal. Akash helped him with his studies. Mrs Sudha heaved a sigh of relief on seeing them sitting together like best friends.