“…OK, very good, now tell me how many wheels are there in a rickshaw?
“Hmmm…pretty impressive,” observed one teacher. “This boy is clever,” said the aunty in yellow saree. “Pesky,” opined another. “Pre-posterous,” was the final verdict of the head-aunty.
“Who is the Prime Minister of India?”
Piklu gave the right answer. Among the applause by the teachers, the head-mistress came to the conclusion that this boy was too clever. For the rest of his life in that school this head-mistress would scrutinize his every move. Piklu was too small to realize all these. He was looking for a lee-way to escape this fierce pairs of eyes. The birds were chirping outside. This time Khudi must be kicking the football and rolling on the mud. Why he needs to study in a school afterall? Soon he got lost in all these thoughts.
“What is your father’s name?” thundered the headmistress.
Piklu was looking at the nearby sunset. Two squirrels were busy cracking nuts there. Squirrels never fight. They always share their food. They jump, dance playfully, catch each other and quickly disappear into the palm tree-top to have a first hand look into the world. They are the happiest and jolliest animals in this world. Squirrels are Piklu’s favourite.
“I said what your father’s name is,” she repeated. “Squirrels…” Piklu replied absent-mindedly.
“Squirrel!!! Your father’s name is squirrel…” the whole interview hall burst out in laughter.
Piklu always feel shame to take back his words. It’s supremely insulting, particularly for a grown up boy like him. He is three-year-old.
He didn’t remember what the question was. Only that these teachers were pinching him now. That was unbearable. “So your father is a squirrel?” asked one teacher.
“No…,” piklu replied obstinately.
“Oh miss Pamela, why don’t you understand, his father is not a squirrel, his father’s name is squirrel,” explained the aunty in yellow-saree. The teachers, except the head-mistress again burst out in laughter.
“You know what? You failed in this test,” said the grumpy old lady, the head-aunty. He didn’t understand why the head-aunty winked to the other aunties.
Piklu was not sure whether to use ‘thank you’ in this type of situation. Months of intensive training by his mother have taught him to convey thanks whenever somebody says something. But NO ‘thank you’ when a question is being asked. His mother didn’t train him if to convey thanks when somebody asks you a question and at the same time gives the answer also. So he used the rule B of interviewing. ‘Whenever in doubt, leave that out.’
“So may I go now?” Piklu was getting anxious.
“What you will do going now?” asked the head-mistress.
--Lots of things to do, I will play football with Khudi and Gora, then I will have to fill the pond that we dig into our backyard and then we have to release Telapiya fries there. Then we will do circus.
--Circus! What kind of circus you do? Are you the clown there?
--No, no. we will catch ants. We will pin broom-sticks into our pond. And then we will put those ants into the sticks. They will come down and will touch the water then again will go up. Lot of people comes to see our circus. It’s fun. And sometimes we throw the ants into the pond. When they see sharks swimming into the pond they swim so fast to the shore (Piklu shows the swimming pattern…) you won’t believe it.
…I am going then. Don’t worry I will tell my mother that I have failed.
Piklu didn’t wait for the permission. He got down from his chair and started walking towards the door. Finally free. He was feeling hungry also. His mother had promised if he gave the exam properly she would buy him a cake.
It was so fast and unexpected that the teachers didn’t get the chance to stop him. Even the worst villain in TV cannot stop him. If he has decided to go, he will go. Just before pulling the door open, he remembered his last lesson. Before leaving the interview hall what he was supposed to do.
“Thank you…” he finished the interview process and rushed outside. His anxious mother was waiting. She rushed towards him…started showering him with questions. But he was desperate. He grabbed his mother’s wrist and looked for the watch. The big hand was in six and the small hand was in one. That meant it’s 1.30 pm. That meant the game was over. That meant the fun was over. That meant he wasted one precious day in his life. These poker faced people wasted his game. His mother also conspired against him. Tears came out like a cloud-burst. Before his mother could hold him he was crying frantically and rolling onto the ground.
With all these commotion going on, the head-mistress came out. “What happened, behave yourself, you pesky brat.”
Piklu stood up. Wiped his tears. Went to the football-shaped witch. He gathered all his strength on his left foot and…BOOM…what a mighty kick it was. The head-mistress couldn’t control herself. After trying to balance for a few seconds, she thumped into the floor.
It was a foul. If you hit somebody without the ball, that’s a foul. Khudi had taught him.
The head-mistress stood up, stern-faced. Grabbed the thin wrist of the brat. Turned to his mother and said, “come to the evening to take him. Don’t worry, we will give him food and everything. We are admitting him from this very day.”
Piklu’s playful, carefree life was finally over.