It’s June and the kids are all back to school from their summer vacation, half of them excited to rant about how they spend the holidays and half of them unable to hide their post-vacation blues. As one can As if to help the latter half bounce back, the classrooms are exploding with laughter, shouts and cheers. The peon showed a tiny boy to his classroom. Harsha strolled into the class VII taking in the new surroundings. There were about 40 students in his class. The two windows to the front looked over the school playground. A black board stood in the middle of the windows and on it was written ‘Welcome back to school’. Shyly, he sat in the last bench.
The first class:
The class teacher Ms. Sujatha entered class VII as the bell rang. She was the favourite teacher for most of the girls she taught. She greeted the students with a warm smile noticing the new boy who did not look at her. When she asked him to introduce himself to the rest of the class, Harsha stood up slowly and said “I’m Harsha. I came from a Government school.”
All of his classmates have always been taught in English medium. That Harsha came from a Government school means that he wasn’t taught in English. They couldn’t stand him now. That short and lean boy who cannot speak English!
Harsha became the subject of all leisure discussions in the class. The way he walks, the way he keeps his notes, the way he dresses himself – his every act was observed and commented upon. He was kept at a distance by everybody. Boys hardly spoke to him, the girls didn’t even acknowledge him when he’s around. Alone, he tried his best to survive.
A few days passes by and other topics replaced Harsha in the chats of the students. During a study hour, Roshni turned around to borrow something from Priya who’s sitting behind Roshni. He – Harsha – was staring at them. He continued doing so even after she noticed him! What guts does he have?! She turned away making a mental note to keep an eye on him.
During recess that day, she told her friends about him and they all agreed to surveil him. After a couple of days of staring and spying, they confronted him. He denied ogling at them. They waited for a few more days allowing him to stop gawking and they gave as it turned fruitless. How dare he not change!
The girls decided it’s high time and complained to their class teacher Ms. Sujatha about Harsha. Even she had noticed him staring fixedly at the girls a couple of times.
“Harsha! Stand up!” she said.
She yelled, “What are you doing in the class? Why are you looking at the girls?”
He replied, “But I didn’t”.
The usually quite face of Ms. Sujatha reddened with anger. “Don’t you lie to me! I saw with my very eyes!” she growled.
He stuttered “N…no I didn’t lie”.
Harsha’s defiance must have irked her a lot for she asked him to stay outside the class for the next four classes.
Mr. Rajesh was the Social Studies teacher for class VII. As he was entering the class, he noticed Harsha and his moist eyes. He asked him what the matter was. Harsha said he was punished by the class teacher because she thought he was staring at the girls while he was actually looking out the window on the girls’ side. He said he couldn’t look at the teachers because he felt inferior.
When Rajesh asked the girls about this, all of them said that Harsha deserves this. But the boys vouched for the truth in Harsha’s words. Though they are not friends with him, they like him personally (and somewhat secretly). Rajesh believed the boys – be it because of his misogyny or because he really believed in Harsha – and felt the need to do something. He asked all the girls to stand up for the next five days because “they continuously look at him every time he’s in the class”!
With the pity that followed, the boys started patronizing Harsha. The girls were enraged by Rajesh’s decision and the change in the boys. They now await their chance to avenge the insult they were subject to.