by Asifur Rahman Khan
It was 1999, and one of my classmates was narrating my Bengali essay. Nobody could stop laughing, including my English teacher. In fact, the narrator could barely keep his voice straight, trying to be a good narrator instead of joining the crowd.
He spoke slowly and loudly in Bangla, ‘When the detective found themselves at the ferry terminal…hahaha…and, yeah, and then, they immediately started questioning the local people about the loss….mmhhh….of the coveted football.’
I saw a few students gasping for breath, some clutching their abdomen, some rubbing their cheeks. This was a sight that filled me with a sadistic satisfaction. I saw my English teacher trying very hard to contain herself.
It was one of the pleasures that I find very hard to describe in just words.
‘After getting a tip-off’, he burst out laughing, before continuing, ‘ from one of the crew members, the detectives hired a diver to drag the river for any missing pumper…mmm…hahaha… that might have been used to inflate the coveted football.’
By the time, he finished the essay, I became the class hero. My classmates came up to me to applaud my never-before-seen feat.
‘Dude, just awesome!’
‘Man, you have some guts!’
‘I didn’t know you could be this devious!’
How little they knew me, I wondered. As I basked in the glory of my achievement, the next class rolled in, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the triumph in wickedness, in setting a standard that I knew no one can break, ever again.
It was 1999; the year Manchester United won the treble through some miraculous dribbling of Ryan Giggs, amazing saves by Peter Schmeichel, pinpointed crosses of Beckham and the never-die attitude of the Red Devils. Of course, I couldn’t see any of them live. Bangladesh television coverage had not included the satellite broadcasts yet, so the matches would never be broadcasted live.
Just a week back before the laughters and giggles started, I was taking down notes regarding Bangla grammar.
‘The Bangla language is a rich language. It is a direct descendant of Sanskrit, and our language has been used to reach the epitome of composition in poetry and prose, by notable artists such as Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, and many more.’
As she explained more and more on just how complicated our language was, I looked around the class.
The front row students have acquired the unique ability to stop blinking as they stared at the blackboard. It looked like their vision was stuck to an event horizon. Interestingly enough, the psychology of a student can be pinpointed by where he or she sits in the class.
The studious ones, or the nerds, sit right at the front rows. They can feel the ominous exhales of the teacher right on their face. I have seen them fight for the front seats so vigorously that it seemed that their intelligence, and probably, their sense of hearing will evaporate in the second row. The last row students, from what I saw of them, their sole objective seemed to be about enjoying the fringe benefits of the school. They do not lack intelligence, but they don’t want to use it for mundane subjects like studies.
Before she left the class, she gave out an order. ‘I will take an exam on Wednesday. Memorise the essay on perseverance, on page 52. Anyone who does bad in this exam, consider yourself failed in this subject.’
It was a threat.
I never responded well to threats. Even though I almost never spoke back, but inside, I had to prove that threats do not work with me. Just because of a few students, the entire class had to be punished, and because of those few students, everyone’s grade was in jeopardy.
Of course, she would not have done that, but in class eight, who is to say what she could do.
On the exam day, I came prepared.
When she gave the result of the exam, I was shocked and delighted to find out that I scored a mighty 13 on twenty.
That was brilliant, considering I did not memorise anything on perseverance, and I wrote a fictional story of a Russian spy who came to Bangladesh looking for a ball that was stolen from the museum.
When this fact was unveiled in the class on how I scored 13 writing nothing on the topic, everyone wanted to hear what I wrote. In the English class, our teacher gave Fahmi the permission to narrate the entire story out. Everybody had a good laugh, and everyone was convinced that our Bangla teacher gives us marks on how much we write, not on what we write.
I pulled the greatest prank of my school life with her, and got away with it. I still feel so proud of myself. But somehow, for some reason, I strongly suspect she knew what I was up to all along, and gave me the marks for being creative, for being daring.
I would have done the same thing if I was in her place.
The author is the Associate Creative Director of Unitrend Limited