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Short stories by Rohini Chowdhury

'The Perfect Plan' by Rohini Chowdhury

by Rohini Chowdhury


Short stories by Rohini Chowdhury

The Kite

The Perfect Plan

Elsie

Marbles

Ever pushed anybody under a train? I have.

No - really. It's true. I have pushed someone under a train. I pushed old Bose, our Physics master, under the 4.30 afternoon train to Shonarpur. If you don't believe me, ask him.

Yes, he is still around to tell the tale. You may write me off as a liar, but you can't do that to Bose. Bose was - is - scrupulously honest. In fact, honesty was one of his more annoying traits - he made such a virtue of it! Just as he made a virtue of giving the whole class low grades, not because we deserved it, but because he declared low grades were good for us. Good for us! How can low grades be good for anyone, I ask you? It sounds funny when I say it like this, but it isn't. Not when you have to take those low grades home, and your father takes one look at your report card and doesn't speak to you for the rest of the week, and your mother looks at your face and shuts herself in her room and comes out an hour later with red eyes and continues to weep silently into the vegetables which she is preparing for dinner. No, low grades are just not funny.

So one afternoon, I pushed old Bose under a train. It happened like this.

It was a hot day, very hot. The temperature outside must have been in the forties. Inside, in our large cool classrooms we were still ok, but we could see the world baking outside. The air, stretched thin and tenuous in the furnace, shimmered over the dry ground, and if I twisted around in my chair I could see the mirage pools form all over the playground.

Mirages now - refracted light as the textbooks explain, or a glimpse perhaps of another world? I wonder. I lose myself in the immense possibilities this thought opens up, when suddenly 'You! In the corner there!' barks Bose.I suppose he means me.

'Can you answer my question?' I can't. For the simple reason I don't know what it is. I haven't been listening - I never do, to old Bose. Newton's Laws and Bernoulli's Principle and someone or other's theory. That's all he goes on about. All utterly boring and completely irrelevant to my life.

'Sorry, sir,' I reply politely enough. 'I wasn't listening. I was looking at the mirages outside.'

'Mirages, huh?' snarls Bose. 'Can you, boy, tell me how those mirages are formed?'

Now, if there is anything I hate more than Bose's class it is Bose's habit of calling me 'boy'. As though I don't have a name. I do - Akhilesh Kumar Ghosh. Though a bit long, it is still perfectly valid as a name. I feel the irritation building up within me. I do not answer. Instead I think of my parallel world - I walk into it, it's easy, because I find that the mirages are just what I thought they were - gateways...

'See me after class,' snaps Bose, rapping me smartly on the knuckles. That hurts, but I don't care. What is scaring me is the thought of Ma, weeping and tearful and accusing, and Baba, stiffly silent.

Anyway, somehow I get through the rest of the class without much else happening. Except that old Bose really gets under my skin that afternoon. He finishes his lecture and sets us what he called a 'small exercise'. I do not even bother reading the problem he has set. Instead I concentrate on staying calmly in my seat.

Bose paces up and down the classroom, peering over shoulders and gloating over the mess we are all in. He is sweating away, and every time he passes by me I smell his sweat - rancid and bitter, as though he hasn't bathed in a week or has worn yesterday's shirt. Knowing the old slob, probably both.

Every time he reaches the front of the class he jerks his sleeve up and looks at his watch, which he wears on his right, inner wrist. For some reason, this annoys me greatly.

Every time he reaches the back of the class he levitates himself up on his toes, pick his nose and wipes the pickings on the windowsill. He then lowers himself back on to his heels and resumes his pacing.

It is while watching him pick his nose and wiping his fingers on the windowsill for the ninth time that afternoon that the thought comes to me - What if I kill him? Won't the world be a better place if I do? The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that Bose needs to be killed, and suddenly I have the perfect plan.

Both Bose and I used to take the same train home after school. He would wait on the station platform, just a few feet away from me, immersed in a book, ignoring me. At exactly twenty-seven minutes past 4 o'clock, he would shut his book and turn to glare down the train tracks in the direction of the expected train. Two minutes later, I would feel the ground vibrate and ten seconds after that the train would round the bend and come into view and draw to a clanking stop at the station. The train stopped for barely ten seconds there - it was usually empty, and no one ever got off or on except Bose and me. The sleepy old stationmaster, who never opened his eyes, would wave the train on, and slowly we would clank out of the station. Killing Bose would be easy I thought - I would simply push him under the train as it drew up. If the stationmaster noticed anything - which I doubted - I could always pretend it was an accident.

The Perfect Plan cont'd...  next page
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Short stories by Rohini Chowdhury

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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

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