It was a Friday evening and the school fell into an odd silence, as all the children left as soon as the bell rang. Its weekend and the school won’t open till next Monday; the joy of the holidays filled the faces of the children and the teachers alike as they left the school grounds. A lean young man in a khaki shirt and dhoti’s was rushing through the corridors with a bundle of keys dangling in his hand, closing the windows and locking the doors of each classroom, his name was Appu and he was the school peon. It’s past 5 pm and he was in a hurry not because of the principle waiting in her office for the keys but of the thought of the heavy queue in front of the liquor shop at the late hours.
Mrs. Sushama Raj was the principle of the school, a pleasant woman in her forties. She was on her desk doing some paper works when she heard few loud calling for her from Appu, she went out and found Appu standing in front of a far corner classroom gesturing with his hands and talking through the door as if to someone. As she walked towards him, he saw her and ran to her. “Kids are rotten these days, they don’t even have respect for their elders, I am telling her to get out of the classroom and what she says, that she won’t leave” he spilled out the words in a rush and anger, he glazed at his watch dials then back at the women, continued cursing children, his job and vaguely about some queue. Mrs. Raj wasn't entirely sure about what happened with Appu but understood that some on was in the ‘7thA’ class room and that Appu wasn't in a mood to wait any longer. She told him that she will manage the rest of the classes; though he would have loved it he couldn't accept such a thing from the schools principle, so he marched towards the rest of the classrooms in a hurry.
Mrs. Raj reached the classroom and found a girl sitting on the last row bench. She was lying with her hands crossed on the plane and head above it facing downwards, Mrs. Raj could say she was crying as her body was jerking of sobbing. She walked towards the girl and sat, opposite to her. Mrs. Raj in her soft voice asked her why she was crying, without raising her head the girl mumbled through her sob that she won’t leave and she kept on repeating it. Patting the young girls head she said gently “Nobody is asking you to leave dear, I just want to know why you are crying”, the girl didn't reply, “Are you studying in this class”, between the intervals of her snuff the girl replied “Yes”.
“Look at me dear, you know young girls shouldn't cry, especially the pretty ones like you, whatever the matter is you can talk to me” the women continued, “What happened, your mother scolded you or did she hit you”. The young girl raised her head slightly to look at the teacher, “My mother…My mother…” she fell back on her arms and wept hard. Mrs. Raj saw the girl’s face and realized it was ‘Gauri’, she knew her well, in fact the entire school knew her. The girl met with two great losses in such a young age, two years back her mother died of cancer and the previous year her elder sister, her only sibling committed suicide. Her name was ‘Gaythre’; she was a high school student in the same school, a brilliant one too, after their mother’s death, she took care of Gauri but it only short lived.
Mrs. Raj got really worried now, she through her hands around the girl and hugged her, “Tell me child, what is the matter, tell to me whatever it is, I am like your mother” she said. Gauri raised her eyes and looked into Mrs. Raj’s, the little face looked feeble and the dark eyes bleak and full with tear, she stared at the teacher for few moment and finally found some strength to speak “My…my…father….and my uncle……they…they….b…because of them…my sister died…..now they are……” the young girl collapsed on Mrs. Raj’s hands and burst out, muttering “ I …don’t ….want….go….”