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Slight miscalculation

RADHA SAMPATH

Nayantara wanted to play with her classmates but then she had detention ...


Nayantara gazed out of the window at the bright sunshine and scowled. This was just the kind of day to be outside playing. Instead, here she was, cooped up inside class, struggling to finish her Maths homework while her classmates were enjoying themselves in the playground!

“Nayantara,” the sharp voice made her jump. Her maths teacher, Manjula Ma'am, was glaring at her. “Stop day-dreaming and finish your work. If you had done your homework, you wouldn't be here now; you'd be out in the playground with your friends,” Ma'am obviously believed in rubbing things in.

Nayan grit her teeth and got down to grappling with the impossible ratios and proportions sums wondering what kind of person would think up such problems. Probably someone like Manjula Ma'am! The maths teacher was barely five feet tall but what she lacked in inches she more than made up for in fierceness. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say she was the most feared teacher in the school, striking terror into the hearts of even the boys of Nayan's Std.VIII who prided themselves on not being afraid of anyone. Not surprisingly, she was called “The Terrorist”.

“How do I get Manjula Ma'am to let me go?” the girl wondered. Seeing the teacher's head bent over the test paper she was correcting, Nayan darted a glance through the window again. She saw a mouse scamper into a hole near a tree and her face lit up. “Ha, got it!” She looked warily at her teacher. Manjula Ma'am was still busy with her corrections. “If this doesn't work, I'll be killed. But then, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. So, here goes!”

“EEE!” Nayan's scream rent the air. Manjula Ma'am jumped about a foot into the air. “Wha…wha…what…” she stuttered.

“M…M…Mouse, Ma'am… a mouse ran over my foot,” shrieked the girl. What followed took Nayan by complete surprise. The Terrorist sprang out of her chair and clambered on to the table, her screams mingling with Nayan's shrieks. Sheer shock put the brakes on Nayan's shrieks. Was this quivering jelly of a woman really Manjula Ma'am? But quickly realising that it would look suspicious if she suddenly stopped screaming, she uttered a few more very realistic shrieks.

A small ruse

Manjula Ma'am continued to scream.

Finally, Nayan decided that enough was enough. Besides, her throat was beginning to hurt. “Ma'am, the mouse, it…it…it ran out of the door. It's gone, it's gone.”

“That's enough, Nayantara. Stop shouting!” Manjula Ma'am clambered down from the table, trying to look as dignified as possible. Nayan didn't dare laugh. “Ahem!” Ma'am cleared her throat. “I think you can go now. Finish your problems at home and let this be the last time you come without doing your homework.”

Nayan waited till Manjula Ma'am had hurried out of the room. “Yes!!” she grinned gleefully, thrust her books into her bag and rushed out into the playground.

To her surprise, her classmates were standing around in groups looking glum. “What's up?” Nayan demanded. “Why aren't you all playing?”

“You know the primary school had its School Day yesterday,” said Ananya grumpily. “Well, as you can see, the little horrors have dumped their empty chips and biscuit packets all over the playground.”

“So what has that got to do with our playing?” asked Nayan.

“Mahesh Sir thinks as seniors, we should set a good example and clean up the mess. He's gone with Sanjay and Tarun to get dustbins,” wailed Shriya. “Anyway, what are you doing here? We were just thinking how lucky you were to be sitting in the cool classroom, even if it was with Manjula Ma'am!”

Nayan looked up at the blazing sun, then at the dozens of wrappers lying scattered around the huge playground. “Sometimes,” she groaned, “I'm too smart for my own good!

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