Science Fiction and Fantasy | An Indian Experience

Hathoda: Results Day By Sudarshan Purohit |
Issue 8

Hathoda: Results Day By Sudarshan Purohit

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I was really scared as Social Studies ended, and the Maths period began.

Mrs. Jayanthi is never lenient with the marks, and I knew I’d done at least three problems wrong in my maths test. Most of my friends thought they’d done badly too.
No one was comfortable with those fractions problems; Mrs Jayanthi had been sick that week and the substitute hadn’t explained it properly.

Papa had insisted that I should come to school today, but most of my friends hadn’t come. So I didn’t even have anyone to talk to. The giggly girls on the bench in front were talking about the new video of the comet.

Papa doesn’t like me calling it ‘Hathoda’ like they were labelling it in the newspapers. He says giving it a title makes it sound like something big, but it’s just a piece of rock.

I’d been happy at the idea of a month or so of vacation, but then when the policeman came to school to explain about the ‘SLEEP’ things, we found out that we’d all be asleep for all of that vacation. And when we woke, everything would just like it was, except maybe a little dusty.

Gauri had asked if the whole process was really safe, because her mother was really scared of being locked in a box for a month. Policeman uncle said that the box was never locked, and it was just a transparent piece of plastic. It felt like sleeping in a mosquito net. Then he brought in some photos of the ‘SLEEP’ things and showed us. I said they looked like space ships, and everyone had laughed.

But Principal madam had ruined the fun, by having the monthly tests a week early. She said we weren’t going to stop studying just because we had an extra one month break. Kabir told me that in his brother’s school, they had in fact ended classes a week earlier, and cancelled the half yearly exams. We wished we’d been in that school instead.

So I hadn’t had enough time to study for the exams. And mummy made me help cleaning up the house, and even made me pack all the clothes in plastic bags and put them in the almirah. No sense leaving work for Afterwords, she said, and washed and ironed clothes, bedsheets, towels, everything, in the house before I packed them.

We all were really tired out every night, but mummy said we were going to have a nice long rest in a few days anyway. It was just like that in most of my friends’ houses too. Papa had taken a week off from work, and volunteered to help in setting up the SLEEP camp on the Dussehra ground behind our colony. So he, too, was tired out by evening. In all this confusion and activity, I’d just skipped all the hard parts of the lessons, including the fractions.

Mrs. Jayanthi looked really tired, too, like all the teachers did. Almost everyone of them was helping with the SLEEP work. (Papa had even met Mrs. Pereira at our Dussehra ground last week.) But tired or not, she was carrying the stacks of answer papers, and I groaned. I’d been hoping she would miss it.

Putting the heavy bundle on the table, she sat down in the chair as she always did, put on her glasses, and opened the marks register. She wrote for a moment, then looked up at all of us and smiled. Thanks goodness, at least she was in a happy mood. That meant no one had failed.

“Ready for the marks?” she asked.

“Yes, ma’am!” we replied.

“By your roll numbers, please come up and collect your answer sheets. We’ll discuss the correct answers once you’re done. Ask me if you have any doubts about the marking-

“Roll Number 1, Anand Bhatt-Roll Number 2, Anand Shrivastava-Roll Number 3-”

And so on. My roll number was 48, so it would take a while. On the other hand, I’d know most of my friends’ marks before I knew mine. So far, no one seemed to have had a shock. Some even seemed to be really happy.

“Roll Number 48-”

I got up and walked up with a thudding heart. Mrs Jayanthi handed me my paper with a smile.

Then she said, “Try harder next time, okay? You need more practice with fractions.”

Fearing the worst, I didn’t even read my marks till I was back at my seat. But-it was 19/20! But how? I knew I couldn’t have got more than 8 or 9-I flipped through the sheet.

Wherever my answers were wrong, Mrs Jayanthi had over-written, with a red pen, the correct way of doing it. And there were short explanations for the steps, too. But she’d given full marks for these sums, too! What was going on?

“Psst-hey, did you get almost full marks, too?” my neighbour whispered to me.

I nodded to him. So I wasn’t the only one.

Meanwhile, the distribution was wrapping up. Mrs Jayanthi was marking out those who were absent, and who had to be given the marks later. She closed the register, stood up and walked to the front of the class.

“All of you please do me a favour. I really want you to read through the explanations and corrections I’ve written on your answer sheets. I might not be able to take your classes for a short while after the Sleep, so I’ve written down the important portions for the next few chapters on the back of your answer sheets.

“Please study well, kids. Mathematics is more important than you think right now.”

There seemed to be something in her eye, she kept rubbing at it while she said all this.

“Ma’am, why won’t you be here after the sleep? Are you going to some other sleep centre?”

“Well, no, I’ll be right here, in the Dussehra ground. But-Do you know, children, about the ‘Canary’ volunteers?”

Note: Read the complete Hathoda Series:

Cover pic by Carlos Ebert.

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A software professional, Sudarshan was born and brought up in India and currently works in the city he grew up in - Poona, India.