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Teaching a Lesson!

By Brishti Bandyopadhyay; Illustration by Shinod AP

"It's my turn tomorrow," mumbled Raghu to himself as he climbed the stairs of his school building, very slowly as if he were sleep-walking. He had been dreading this day ever since Pal declared his grand class prodigy scheme, two months ago.

Pal was the much feared History teacher."It has been said that genius is 99 per cent perspiration and one per cent inspiration," he had said in his usual pompous manner. "I suggest we test this theory. Beginning next week, we shall have one student present a chapter of this book (he dangled the History book like the Sword of Damocles), as if he were the teacher."

The teacher had announced that each student would be given a week to prepare for class. He even invited the boys to "chew my brains during this process if he so wants". Saying this, Pal had grinned, while the class gave an involuntary shudder - it would take a very brave man to seek out Pal's company outside the classroom.

"Twenty-four chapters for twenty-four of you - that's neat arithmetic. And, at the end of the term, we will have a poll to see who is adjudged the best teacher of all. That boy shall be the Class Prodigy. I shall personally recommend the golden star for him," Pal droned in his usual style.

And so it started. Week after week, Raghu saw the best and the brightest of his classmates being reduced to quivering jellies during their teaching sessions, under Pal's merciless sarcasm. The weeklong preparation might never have been, for each student found that he could never do it right.

Teaching a Lesson!, Stories for kids: 133_1.gif And now it was Raghu's turn. Worse, he had done virtually nothing to prepare the chapter on the French Revolution that had come his way. His mind was a complete blank.

He had tried, of course. For a week now it had become a routine for him to sit with his History textbook open at the page where the chapter on the French Revolution began. And somehow, he did nothing but stare at the sketch of Marie Antoniette, Queen of France in the late 18th century when the Revolution broke out. Marie Antoniette, with her hair cut in a pageboy style, just before she was executed.

Raghu felt very close to her for some reason. Actually, the reason had a face - that of Pal's.

And then there was only one day left for his ordeal. Deep down Raghu knew that even if he stayed up the whole night and studied, he would still be a sitting duck for Pal's snide comments the following day.

Sometimes, though, he felt that Pal couldn't help himself, as if something, some inner force egged him on to be nasty.

The day passed by in a haze. Raghu's classmates observed his unusually quiet self. Unlike other days, no one tried to snap him out of it or snigger.

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Teaching a Lesson! [Stories for kids]
By Brishti Bandyopadhyay; Illustration by Shinod AP


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