Beating the bullies

Beating the bullies

Beating the bullies

How on earth could the tiniest, mousiest, quietest girl in Veer’s class free him from a gang of tormentors?

His classmates called him Soda-bottle (‘Soda’ for short), but what he felt like was a sandwich. Stuck in the middle with the Bully Gang on one side and his angry mother on the other. The squishy, spineless jam flattened by 2 stiff, hard slices of toast.

It started off when the Gang noticed his high grades. That was back in Std 8. So Arvind arrived at his desk one evening with a pile of his (Arvind’s) note books that he dumped in front of Soda. Then removing Soda’s thick glasses, he sneeringly said, “I want my notes updated….and make sure it looks like my handwriting!” There were seven books in front of him and when Soda opened them at home, he discovered that they were all about a month behind what had been covered in school. Poor Soda woke up early for two weeks, completed Arvind’s notes before his mother woke up and then hurriedly did his own assignments.

That had been a mistake. One, because Mama caught him doing Arvind’s work. And two, because he’d done such a good job, Arvind decided that Soda could now do all his notes, for EVER. From Arvind’s notes, he was soon stuck with Vikram’s biology diagrams and often had to teach Suresh math. And during exams, whichever of the three bullies happened to be seated beside him, copied right out of his answer paper.

It was over a year now that Soda, oops…did I mention that his real name was Veer…had been walking around with a sick feeling in his stomach. A combination of fear (of the Bully Gang at school); of disgust, aimed at himself for not being able to stand up to Gang, and exhaustion (from doing almost three kids’ work on any given day).

When the project work began in Std 9, life became hell. Veer lost almost 8 kilos, fought day and night with his angry mother to prevent her from coming to school to complain about the Gang and his grades began to fall (just as Arvind’s, Vikram’s and Suresh’s began to improve!)

One games period when he’d lied that he was too sick to play football, just so that he could stay back in class and catch up on his work (Arvind’s, actually), he heard a voice from the back of the class say, “Why don’t you be REALLY, REALLY sick…like absent for a week or so?” Veer turned around, shocked. He found the quietest girl in class, seated at the back of the room, with a handkerchief in one hand and one of the Twilight books in the other. Veer wanted to hit her. He hadn’t read a story book for ages. And what on earth did she mean…by being really, really sick?

“Wait for a day when all three guys give you their books, preferably of 3-4 subjects each.

Then miss class for a week…pretend to be ill, I’m sure your Ma will give you a leave letter.

By the end of the week, all the teachers will know that the reason Arvind, Vikram AND Suresh’s books are missing is because they’re with you…and they’ll then figure out WHY!”
What a brilliant idea! But Veer wasn’t going to admit that aloud. Also, he wondered if he had the courage to do that. What would the Gang to AFTER that? Break his glasses? Or his wrists, as Arvind often threatened to do if he found his books ‘not neat enough’?
But the idea stuck in his head. And combined with poor Veer’s desperate thirst to get back to reading his favourite story books, another idea began working in his mind.

The date for submitting the physics and geography projects was coming up. Veer decided his plan would work best with Physics Ma’am because she had a sharp eye. The Gang expected their projects to be handed over to them, on the submission date, all Xeroxed and spiral bound. Veer knew they’d never ever read it. So after doing his project, he wrote out Arvind’s in an entirely different way. He deliberately didn’t run the spellcheck before taking print-outs.

Then he got that entire set of 14 pages of bad spellings Xeroxed, and bound. He did the same with the Geography projects. And within two days of this bold act, Veer actually fell ill, from exhaustion. All he remembered was sleeping endlessly.

A week passed, by which time, Arvind no longer fretted about what the Gang would do to him. If they broke his wrists, it would be fine…he wouldn’t need to do their notes. One morning Ma walked in while he was reading his favourite Tintin comic for the 10th time.

She handed him his Horlicks and checked his forehead for fever. For once, there was no worried frown on her face. “They’ve asked Arvind to leave, son.” Veer was stunned! His plan had worked? “Yes,” Ma continued, “Vikram will be suspended for a week AFTER you get back to school and Suresh has been warned…that was a clever way to handle it, son,” she said proudly.

Veer thought about taking the credit for it, but decided he wanted Ma to know the truth. “It was the mousiest, tiniest, quietest girl in class who set my mind working in that direction, Ma,” he said, as Ma hugged him, with relief.

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