The school bell rang for the fourth time since morning. At the fourth count of this bell, English class began in her school. She could see the English Teacher approaching the class. She was sitting on a chair next to the window, in the second row, third column of desks, with her best friend on the chair next to her. As the kids chorused, ‘Good Morning Teacher’, she took out her English notebook, climbed her chair, kept the notebook on her head and stared at the blackboard.
A small ball of crumpled paper hit her left calf. She knew who did it. She would take care of him in the lunch time. The teacher came and stood next to her, her legs trembled but not with the barrage of paper balls hitting her back. The teacher held her from her ear and pulled her down from the chair. Her notebook fell to the ground first. Then came some salt mixed with water, mucus, the dust beneath her shoes, and a few trembling sobs. She let her feet drag her to the blackboard, with a little direction from the teacher’s firm grip on her ear.
“Look at this girl. She cannot write an essay on ‘My Dog’ which all of you completed two days back.”
As the teacher began to read Lesson 5 from the English book, she lifted one of her ankles and began to move her toe as if to dig the ground. The small stone chips smudged into each other as she gazed at them through a thin layer of salt and water covering her eyes. She smiled. Her eyes danced with the stone chips as they touched and ran around each other. A sweet smelling musk assembled around the dancing stone chips. She looked up to find the Principal Ma’am standing next to the English Teacher. Her legs trembled again. With the salt, water, mucus and a little dust on her wiping fingers, what if the Principal Ma’am made her go out of school gate? Then nobody will play with her. She wiped her face with her fingers and then the corner of her tie. But it was far more wet than her tiny fingers and tie could manage.
The faint musk settled around her wrist and led her out of the classroom. So, Principal Ma’am was going to make her stand outside the school gate. She turned to look at the playground. There was far more salt and dust that she could taste now than when she was in the classroom. Will Principal Ma’am let her in, if only to let her play with her friends? Her feet dragged to where her arm bound with the smell of sweet musk led her. But her eyes were locked with the smell of an earth fresh out of a rain shower.
Then she could not taste salt anymore. She could only taste the chill of splashing water and sweetness of subtle musk on her face. And next she tasted a flurry of air as Principal Ma’am wiped her face with a tissue.
“Do you remember when you came to my house with your Papa? Then whom did you meet at the door?” She was sitting in Principal Madam’s lap now.
“A white dog.” The taste of the orange candy in her mouth was better than all flavors she had had since morning.
“Do you know the name of that white dog?”
“It’s Caesar, your dog.”
“Caesar is not just my dog. Caesar loves you too. Do you love Caesar?”
“She was biting me.”
“Caesar doesn’t bite anybody. She was trying to play with you.”
“No. Caesar did not give me my ball.”
“Where did Caesar keep your ball?”
“In her mouth.”
“Is Caesar’s mouth big?”
“Very big, with big teeth. Caesar will not bite me?”
“No, Caesar loves you. She wanted to run with you. Do you know how Caesar runs?”
“Tell me. Caesar never runs with me.”
She got down from Principal Madam’s lap. Then she ran around on all fours till Caesar’s hair tickled her neck. The candy in her mouth cracked each time Principal Ma’am clapped.
Next day, she cracked some more candy as the English teacher read her essay on ‘My Dog’ to the rest of class.
Fantasies rule… Experiences cheer… and fun is still the name of every game I play…