Punishment

Bobby felt an elbow poking him on the side and heard his friend whisper, “Get up, Bobby! Mr. Jones is looking at you.”

It took huge will power to open his eyes and as soon as he did, he stared right into Mr. Jones’ eyes. Bobby squirmed, shifted in his seat muttering a ‘Sorry, Mr. Jones’ and looked down at his open book. History was his least favorite subject and add to it Mr. Jones’ boring drone of a voice. Of course, the tiredness due to last night’s party was no help either. Bobby felt his eyelids droop as he listened to the events leading to the Battle of Plassey.

“Get up, Bobby. Class is over. We have to go and make the project. ” He felt another poke at his ribs and grunted. “Get up!” He felt Sid shaking him. “Okay, okay I’m coming!” He shouted at Sid with his eyes still closed. Bobby heard Sid walk away showering the choicest expletives at him. I’ll get up in just a minute, he thought, as he allowed the quiet room envelop him into bliss.

A coughing fit woke him up. He cursed under his breath and reached for the water jug on his bedside table. Wait. There is no bedside table. Puzzled, he tried to get up but fell on the ground as he hit something. “Shit!”, he exclaimed as his eyes got accustomed to the dark. I am in the classroom,he thought.

He suddenly felt weak in the knees, and his heart seemed to jump out of his body. He ran to the front of the classroom, hitting the occasional bench now and then, and turned on the light switch. Nothing. He flipped the switch several times with the same result. He then ran to the door and turned the handle over and over again. Locked. He banged his fists on the door and shouted, “Help! Is anybody there? Please help me!” He kept on shouting and banging the door, sometimes with his fist, at other times with his feet. He started to cough again with all the shouting and grabbed the teacher’s table for support when he thought of the windows.

He walked over to them and opened the glass panes. A breath of fresh air entered the class and with it some light. He looked down at the grounds as a thought of escape came to his mind. Can I jump? No, It’ll probably be my death. He sighed and brushed that thought aside. He shouted again, several times in fact, for help. Maybe the gatekeeper or the gardener will hear me. How come the peon never saw me sleeping in the class, he wondered. He must have forgotten to look here. He cursed the wretched peon under his breath and concentrated on shouting for help. He didn’t see a light or hear any sound. Crying, he slid to the ground and sat sobbing for a long time. Mum, Dad. Please come looking for me, he prayed.

A sudden noise startled him, and he got up to his feet in a jiffy. He ran to the door and started shouting again. “Help! Please! Anybody there? I’m stuck in the History room.” He heard the shuffling of feet as somebody walked toward him. Relief washed over him as he heard the sound and banged the door again to let the person know where he was.

He heard a key turn in the lock and the door opened. Bobby blinked several times as the light from a heavy duty torch hit him in the eyes. Shielding his eyes with his hand, Bobby looked at his rescuer.

“Mr. Jones! I am so glad to see you! The fucking peon forgot to look in the class, and I was trapped here for ages. Thank God you’re here!”

“He often does that. Forgets to look in the classes, I mean,” the history teacher offered.

“He should be punished for that, don’t you think? I mean, what if I had died here?”

“Yeah. Maybe. Talking of punishments, Bobby, don’t you think you ought to be punished for sleeping in my class?” asked Mr. Jones as he revealed a butcher’s knife in his right hand.

“You must be joking, right?” Bobby panicked and began to back off from the teacher.

“No, I’m not”, said Mr. Jones as he struck with the knife.

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