I couldn’t wait to come out of the exam hall . There was still an hour left for the Annual Exams to come to an end. With each question passing by, my urge to complete the paper became stronger. Yeah … I had so many things to look forward to that summer – street cricket with friends ,trying out Amma’s mouth-watering dishes (which she’d learned from ‘Theneer Neram‘ if I might add )and our family trip to Bangalore. I scribbled with all my might to finish off my English exam soon but my pen came to a skidding halt when I reached the last question – an essay question .
“Write an essay on the topic Child Labour in about 200 words (15 marks)”
I hated essay questions. How am I supposed to ramble on for 200 words ? Uh .. Let alone 2 sentences. So, I carefully copied down the question in my best possible handwriting and stared at it for a few seconds. Then, I kicked off my essay with the most cliched sentence you could find in any average student’s English paper – “Children are our Nation’s future”. That was when I realized that my answer sheet wasn’t even worth using as a tissue paper. I looked around at my classmates . Some were staring at the ceiling .Some were asleep already while some were bent down on their papers with a risk of their nose touching the desk.
I still had not written anything in my Essay.There was only half an hour left because the 12:30 tea had come. The herbal tea was one of the best things in my school. With its perfectly mixed cardamom and ginger , I swear even my mum’s tea comes only second. I looked in the direction of the aroma. I saw the tea-boy carefully placing the cup on the table. He looked more or less my age . I guess I had never noticed that before . We always called him “Boss” or “Anna” . I looked at him more closely and then at my paper . “…...on the topic child labour….” .. Ah , the irony of it .. They preach one thing and practice another.. Even my miniscule brain plunged into deep thoughts while looking at the boy.He smiled at me and I returned the smile absently. I started with my essay and for the first time in my life I wrote something meaningful . Why haven’t I had the courage to stand up to things like these ? Was I a chicken to not even be vocal about my thoughts ?
I finished my essay at long last but I couldn’t take my mind off that boy . Later , I learned that I’d got a 10 out of 15 . What did the boy get though ? An assurance to 2-meals a day and roof over the head to sleep . *Sigh* As the bell rang , I joined the corridor teeming with hundreds of students who didn’t give a damn about the boy or anyone . What difference does it make though ? Just like them I too am only a silent spectator.. …
“Boss.. Ore oru cup tea thaanga boss..”