Rahul ran to school, more nervous than the evening that he went with Shweta to the movies 3 days ago. The results were in. His class 12 board results were being declared today and his tummy was knotted up. So much depended on it. The marks he got would determine his college, his friend circle, his coming of age, his first job, his first gf, his monies, his potential to be picked up for a scholarship for a masters..everything simply everything rested on this.
He was alone. Early. He did not want to have any family around. Though it was a tough thing to even imagine, he hoped that even his friends were not there. Heaven forbid, what if there was an issue? what if someone had not graded his answer sheet? what if there was a kanjoos examiner? what if Rohan got more than him? and if even Nikita, to whom he had taught maths the whole time managed to score higher? what if he could not sit in the Stephens Cafe and call it home.. ..... what if, what if? palms sweaty he wished the auto to go faster, he wished it would never reach.
The gate loomed close, there was no where to go but to the crowded buzzing wall. Kids stood around it, hovering like bees. Some jumping, some sullen, everyone going to check and double check. Tension filled the air, anxiety sweated out from its pores.
The school gated loomed closer, hastily paying the auto driver, he stepped out. hmmmmmmmm, a deep sigh escaped him. Straightening his shoulders, he muttered a short prayer below his breath and took a tentative step towards the sheets that held his future captive.
Shoving himself into the middle of the crowd, he carefully avoided any form of eye contact. Elbows jostled him, he moved on. Shit, he should have carried a pen and paper to take down the marks. Annoyed, he took out his cellphone and retrived the admission number he had strored there.
His heart skipped a beat. Tracing his finger to the row, he moved his eyes. Code 009 score 91, Code 008 score 88, code 007 score 89, code 006 score 78, code 005 score 93. He blindly took it down, the scores and the codes not making sense.
78! 78!! how the hell did he get a 78?? What was 005? he fumbled around, asking the codes and the papers they stood for. Accounts. - This was not happening, he could not have scored this in Accounts, he was an ace accountant, the rules were made for him he was the stock market whiz kid this was his trump card, this was not real...
Sitting with a thud on the steps he dismissed the laudatory marks on the remaining subjects without a moment of recognition. Reality hit him. The Cafe was gone. Poof went the Stephens tag. Hindu, SRCC, Hansraj the list of names reverberated in his head. Cut off marks from last year mocking him, mocking his marks. 98%, 97%, 95% large numbers, meaningless numbers.
KiroriMal.. the very name made him shudder. He was not a Kirorimal person he would not be one ever. Venky - images of ugly men loafing on bikes smoking made him close his eyes in mock horror. He held his head in his hands and shook with misery. What now what now what now??? the only question that loomed for him remained this.
His phone buzzed. Mom calling. He cut the line. Not yet.
Rohan calling. no way. not now
switching on the calculator he calculated his best of 4- acceptable but not good enough. How could be drop accounts. Dejected, angry and tired. he sat there looking at his school. These steps, just 3 months ago were home, the way to start a morning.
He missed it already. the security of the school bus. plonking yourself on the stairs and fighting with the karamcharis who threatened to throw dirty water down the stairs to push u off. The morning assembly that was a joke, sneaking into class late and sleeping till one was jostled awake.
Tears smarted his eyes. STOP IT, he cant cry here.
Picking himself up. He went once more to the white sheets, hoping the numbers had juggled themselves in the list,. hoping that the cafe would be his morning pitstop once more. hoping for anything but reality.
It wasnt to be. Black numbers remained frozen. Life had stopped.