“Is Krishna your younger brother?” asked U ma’am. It didn’t take me a second’s time to say no.
“Then how dare you not use Lord or Shree before his name?” she yelled at me one Hindi period before pulling my ponytail twice.
R and A giggled from behind. I could count the number of times C inhaled and exhaled. As usual, she had begun her anxiety-control breathing exercises because it was her turn, next.
The self-proclaimed punks in the last few benches behaved a little less like one in this class and the make-up gurus kept their lips pursed fearing their in-trend lipsticks would be noticed. I was clever in this aspect; I only applied my lipstick of the day after U ma’am’s class.
Though we didn’t dare to speak about her to someone other than our own close group of friends, I’m sure that everyone hated this class as equally as I did, or maybe more but not a pinch lesser than that. Everyday when the bell for second hour rang, the atmosphere simply stood still. It felt as if global warming legit originated from our class. I was not only exhaling carbon dioxide at a much faster pace but also feeling it revolving non-stop around the class, making the trees outside hungrier.
Eating, drinking, talking, laughing and smiling would go for a break of forty-five minutes, thinking and blinking included. Some would rub their palms and tighten their ponytails in advance. For those she chose to slap had no option but to pray that it didn’t hurt as described by a former receiver of it in the last class. Some would bet on her mood of the day and someone, mostly the class-captain, would get a glimpse of his/her old age because ma’am liked the black-board ready to write on before she arrived.
It wouldn’t be honest of me if I didn’t say that she was a psycho most of the times. In the middle of a lesson, she would suddenly stop and start daydreaming. She would talk to herself in between that. Not a day passed when she didn’t hit someone. Always angry. Full of rage. Some days, especially Mondays, she would ask students who bathed before school to raise their hands, the rest of the dirty fellows had to leave the class. Monday was Lord Shiva’s day she said. It didn’t matter to her that more than half of the students in the class were Non-Hindus. Shiva was her second favorite god, after Krishna. Sorry, Lord Krishna. By chance, if the number of hands raised were too less, she would shift her chair near the door and begin the class from there itself.
On her birthday, she brought with her a jar of Aloo Bhujia and asked us to stand in a line. She then asked us to raise a hand and scooped a spoon of Bhujia in each. She was in a happy mood then. She told us stories about Meerut and zoned out for the rest of the class. After the bell, she took out a pair of bananas from her handbag and asked M and me to go and serve it to the cow outside the school-gate. M and I gave exchanged sly glances and tried hard to hide our smiles. Just as we were headed to fulfill her order, she said, “Do not eat it yourselves. I’ll ask the cow”. We were scared that she really would but we ate the bananas anyway.
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