Missing pencils, hissing snakes

Missing pencils, hissing snakes

The sultry silence was shattered by a piercing scream. Keshav jumped up and bolted to the corner of the classroom. He was babbling and shaking in fright. Whatever could be the matter? 

“Hey, who took my pencils?” Anand shouted as he looked at his empty pencil box. He removed all the books and shook his bag. Lots of pencil shavings and torn bits of paper fell out. But no pencils.

“Keshav, did you take them?” Anand asked the boy sitting behind him. Keshav was a troublemaker and Anand had been his target over the last few weeks.
Keshav smiled widely, showing a few crooked teeth.

He nudged his best friend Santhosh and asked in a falsely polite voice, “Do you know where Anand’s pencils are?”

“Yes, I saw them flying out of the window in the last period!” Santhosh replied. And they both started laughing.

Anand glared at them. He realised that they had probably taken the pencils and thrown them out of the window. He was about to jump on Keshav when the teacher walked in.

There was no point in complaining to her. He and a few others had done so previously, but it was of no use.

Keshav was the most polite boy in class when the teachers were around, so they would never believe that such an angelic boy could go about troubling others! He had to do something to teach Keshav a lesson.

At school the following day, Anand took out two new, brightly-coloured pencils that he had borrowed from his sister. He kept them on his desk and saw Keshav eyeing them. Slowly, he put them back into his bag.

It was the English period. Malathi was reciting a long, boring poem in her sing-song voice. Pushpa  teacher’s head was bent over the desk. She was concentrating on grading some papers. Half the class was asleep. The rest were listening with glazed eyes.

Other than Malathi’s voice droning on, there was absolute silence in the class.
Suddenly, there was a loud whirring noise.


Then, a scream. “Aiyyo!”

The whole class jumped.

The book flew out of Malathi’s hands.

Ranjan who had gone to sleep, woke up so suddenly that he toppled over and fell to the floor with a thud.

Pushpa Ma’am got up quickly, spilling worksheet papers all over the floor.

Keshav had got out of his desk and was at the back of the room, clutching his hand. He was still screaming. Everyone turned around and stared at him.

“Ma’am, there is a snake in Anand’s bag and it bit me,” he yelled, backing up further against the wall.

There was a mad rush as the children jumped out of their seats. Some ran out of the classroom. A few brave ones formed a circle around Anand’s desk. They stared at Anand’s bag expectantly, hoping the snake would come crawling out. The bravest among them poked the bag with a long scale.

“Quiet, everyone,” shouted Pushpa Ma’am. She walked up to Keshav and said, “What do you mean? Show me your hand.”

She could see no puncture marks. She looked at Keshav, raising her eyebrows.
“Ma’am, it is there inside Anand’s bag. It tried to bite me. I heard it hiss,” insisted Keshav.

Santhosh nodded in agreement.

 The teacher asked Anand, “Do you know anything about this?”

With a huge grin, Anand opened the bag and pulled out a bangle, a rubber band and a coin.

With the whole class and Pushpa Ma’am looking on, he stretched the rubber band over the bangle. Placing the coin inside the stretched rubber band, he wound it many times until it was tight. Then, holding it down, he wrapped it carefully so that it would not come undone. He handed it over to the teacher.

“Ma’am, this was the snake that Keshav found when he put HIS hands into MY bag,” he said, pointedly.

By now all the children, even Keshav, crowded around to see what was happening. Gingerly, Pushpa Ma’am unwrapped the coin.

“TTTTRRRRRRRWWWPPPP.....” came the sound as the coin unwrapped itself from the band.

She hurriedly dropped it as she felt a strong tremor. It did feel like something was trying to bite her hand. She could not help but laugh. The whole class joined her except Keshav, who now felt foolish and guilty.

“Keshav, Santhosh, please see me after class,” she ordered, giving Anand an understanding look.

 Anand was elated. Finally, he had caught Keshav red-handed.

 The story spread like wildfire.

It was not strange for Keshav to be stopped in the corridor by boys, who would ask with a straight face, “Hey Keshav, can you show us where the snake bit you?”

Keshav could only scurry away as loud laughter echoed behind him.

Needless to say, Anand’s bag has been left alone since that incident.

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