Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Chapter 6: Friend in need, indeed!
26th August, 2014 - Tuesday
As my eyes drifted towards the door, I saw Siddhant looking at me. He wasn't looking for Shreya. He wasn't radiating disgust towards me like most guys... or like himself from the last day. He just stood there, eyeing me, as if he had something to say.
I looked away.
"Siddhant is looking this way. Don't look," I told Shaon.
"Must be here for Shreya," Shaon turned the other way to look at Shreya's desk. Only her red and grey bag sat there. "Okay!" he exclaimed. "Why would he look at us?"
"I think, he's looking at me."
"Ignore him. Most people are looking at you these days. You're like our very own Hitler," he patted my back.
"Ha. Ha. Very funny!"
As I took another look at the door, Siddhant left. Something felt weird about him standing there by the door staring at me and then... just leaving. But I guess I had gotten too good at handling strange behaviour in these two days.
After the school, on our way back, I asked Shaon about the conversation with Dhillon Sir that got him so worked up, but he waved it off. Our conversation soon got derailed to other stuff, and we had a fun ride back home. It was only two days when I started getting the first vibes of normalcy, and while somehow it felt like a lifetime worth of hell, I knew all was not over... not until I figure the whole mess out.
In the evening, Siddhant texted me over Facebook. It wasn't quite the person I was expecting, but his text did feel, kind of, nice.
I know, it must have sounded rude when he read it out loud, but I was just being genuinely inquisitive.
Again, rude! Texts never accurately express intonations.
Well, he wasn't wrong. I did fix most of their misunderstandings by talking to them about each other's perspectives, which they should have done themselves. Anyway, I was the classic friend-zoned Romeo. Probably why Shreya called me her best friend. Friend in need, indeed!
I didn't quite understand why, but I inadvertently was being too straight-forward with him. He was trying to be nice, after all. Probably part of the reason was my basic wild instinct towards my romantic rival. But I was well-aware of the fact that he never personally harmed me before. It isn't his fault that his girlfriend is my love as well; not anybody's fault really, except my fate's.
At least, he is honest!
Wait, what? I thought it was Rohan, 'cause from how Shaon reacted, I figured Rohan must have said something. I knew Dhillon Sir was pissed at me, because of that strong sermon he was throwing the previous day. But I didn't expect him to start with my friends personally just because he couldn't take formal action against me. In the least, he could have had a word with me! Now, I just needed to know how his conversation with Shaon went. Even if I wanted to push Shaon into telling it, I needed some basic details from Siddhant, because Shaon has never been the showy kind.
26th August, 2014 - Tuesday
"Shh... Quiet," Rohan silences Ojha.
It has hardly been a second that Diljeet Dhillon, the Geography teacher has called Rohan Saraff and Kaushik Ojha outside their classroom, after the commencement of his Geography lecture. Shaon Mandal comes out the door with a glossy paper wrapped book in his hand, interrupting whatever Ojha was voicing. Ojha usually spends his time complaining about stuff that do not even concern him, so Shaon assumes it's something of the type.
"Sir, about that northward movement of wind and ocean currents," he starts directly with his query, without minding the presence of the others, "I think that would be southward. You see, when the current is in the..."
"You, and your friends who came from that school," Dhillon Sir looks at the other two of his students in humour, "you're too oversmart!" Ojha and Rohan let out a mild smile, in a show of mockery towards Shaon and his 'friends who came from that school'.
Shaon doesn't realize this to be a jab at the recent debacle involving Anirudh, who happened to have shifted to Diamond Sparks School together with him and Anup Sahoo. He just assumes this is about Anirudh asking too many countering questions like he does. Of course, he wasn't expecting a teacher to behave in accordance with the kids of the class.
"Of course not, sir," Shaon speaks back. "But we do learn stuff from different sources. If one source is countering another, we do need to clarify, 'cause at the end of the day, we need to be certain that whatever little we know, we know correct."
"Oh, you think you have any idea of what is correct and what is wrong?" Dhillon Sir takes another jab. Shaon finally realizes what this is about. Seriously?! He exclaims mentally before framing his next words.
"Yes and whenever we are not sure we try to question and understand," he goes offensive. He looks at the other two and continues, "...unlike some who believe whatever they hear." He watches as Dhillon Sir acquires a redder colour, and Rohan and Ojha stare angrily at him not sure what to reply with.
"We have plenty knowledge, thank you. Enough, in fact, to be around here educating teenagers like yourself."
"I am not doubting your knowledge, sir," Shaon tries a defensive tone, still adamant to stand strong in support of his friend. "But perhaps you should consider the possibility of questionable sources."
"Don't try to teach me!" Dhillon Sir looks visibly offended.
"How can I, sir? I am just a student. I am merely trying to point out a certain truth."
"We know what the truth is," Rohan finally speaks up, almost in reflex. Dhillon Sir stares him with his already angry eyes. He holds his tongue begrudgingly. Dhillon Sir takes a moment to frame his next words, so as to not directly point out the 'rumours' which Riya herself denied to him.
"It's okay, Rohan," Shaon speaks directly. "No better can be expected from you. I just wish teachers would listen to all sides before deciding on something or picking a side." Too much, he realizes, albeit after blurting out in a fit of temper. He decides to wrap up in a fashion that the topic lands back where it shooted from, "After all, we just ask and counter a lot; there's nothing oversmart about it. And we certainly do not deserve discrimination for it."
Dhillon Sir tries to say something, when Shaon cuts him short again. "I just had a question regarding today's topic, but you won't even listen, and meanwhile you evidently appreciate other students to share their 'problems'," he hooks his fingers on the last word. "Please Sir, maybe it is not so unwise to listen to everyone's perspectives. Thank you."
Shaon moves back to the class, walking straight towards Anirudh's desk. Reaching Anirudh, he says, "We have to figure out every bit of this drama... Rohan usually doesn't take anything this personally, but this time he is."
At the far corner of the room, Riya sits in her place reconsidering the mess she believes she caused. She stares at Anirudh and for the first time since Saturday's tuitions considers that she probably probably should have talked with Anirudh first.
On the other side on the wall she leaned on, stands Siddhant, planning the next step he must take to smoothly guide towards success, the entire parallel mission he has been working on since he got Dhruv's phone call on Saturday.
Based on real events.
Original series idea: Aninda K. Nanda
Written by: Aninda K. Nanda
Proof-reading and suggestions:
Sayan Mandal, Shaona Kundu and Tales, Fables and Fantasies Team
Promotional Art and Illustration:
Special thanks to Bhumika Bachhar