Journey of Teaching Lifelines #4
Chapter 4: The Missing Principal
The summer school had to be canceled because Kiran went missing. Although it was a great chance to help my brother in this case, I’d rather skip it. I had a long summer to get my head straight and you know what? I did help my brother in terms of files and other information. I hate the fieldwork and frankly, my brother seems a bit off from his usual brooding Batman-type behavior. It is like some writer just decided to write all of his characters from an Elseworlds perspective.
Anyway, a month later. Kiran and Jeffrey are still missing while the first day of school has already arrived.
Unfortunately, the guy who canceled the annual day dance competition is the acting Principal. Seriously, the guy can’t even act. Too much overperformance.
Francis entered the staff lounge — “Mr. Rahamat! I see you have already begun your day productively. Talking to yourself in a room with nobody.”
Me — ‘Yeah! Guess who made me do it?’
Maaran — “Person who guesses will be awarded a free lunch.”
Francis — “Mr. Maaran! Good morning. Started with your shenanigans already?”
Maaran — “Yeah, this is my defense mechanism. I couldn’t cope with the fact you became a principal. Ray! I wish he was kidnapped.”
I got up with much exhale and said, ‘Chill! I’ll get you both lunch. Deal? Now nobody wants to be kidnapped, Maar!’
Putting both my arms over their shoulders and walked out to our lunch hall for grabbing a coffee before classes start.
Me — ‘Francis! You gotta tune down a little man!’
As we entered the Inventory room where the coffee maker was kept. There sat my brother with feet on the table, sitting on the chair sipping coffee from the kettle that collects coffee.
Francis — “Okay, now I’m seeing someone who doesn’t work here but drinks from the coffee which was kept for people who work here.”
Me — ‘Dude! You have a house large enough for 10 people to live in. And you have two imported Keurigs.’
Sangeet looked at me and asked, “You think you’re paying me for this case?”
Maaran — “But a whole kettle of coffee? Are you competing with a horse?”
He kept the half-drunk kettle on the table and walked out saying, “All yours, friends! See you guys later.”
Francis — “Rude! I’ll brew a fresh one.”
Me — ‘Yeah, thanks, Francis! If you don’t I’ll flip this school upside down.’
Avanthika walked by, “So, Ray! You look fresh today.”
Without a sip of coffee since morning, Francis gave me a fresh black coffee. I asked her, ‘Fresh? Dude! Sangeet has already left. I already gave you his number.’
Avanthika sipping her cold brew said sarcastically, “Well! Wouldn’t hurt to talk about it once in a while.”
First hour of the year
I walked in as my students got up, ‘Hello! Young Einsteins, and Fiery Teslas! Please have your seats’
Michael — “Yes, what about Elon musk?” and Meena stared at his innocence.
Me — “Wrong class, Mikey!”
Walter showing the shaka gesture — “Is it called — wow! What a class major?”
Meena shrugged, “Well, more like Capitalism major.”
Abhirami — the silent student spoke, “Maybe you should’ve taken Political science.”
The entire class fell silent with a few woos from a few people.
Abhirami — “Yeah, that’s right! Thanks Mr. Rahamat for your encouragement. Although my mom hates me for talking too much, I am happy for me” giggled, “Hehe! Yay me!”
I stood silently for a while, my students were getting ready for the class and some were conversing.
In a low tone, I started, ‘Folks! I have to say one thing. I am really sorry about our meeting over the weekend. I may have startled some of you. My concern was for you people, to not be worried about getting into a college. Everyone deserves something. Studying is the only best thing you can do to fight your future battles.’
Michael — “No issues for me sir! Cause I got a plan. I’m dropping out.”
Walter — “Bro! Respect” and they high-fived.
Walked near them, ‘No! no respect. Walter, we’ve talked about this. Michael, you too. If you have something to accomplish, that’s only if you study. There’s always a time in your youth when you believe bunking and skunking is cool. At one point, when you get a chance to win a fight for others, your only support is going to be what you learned. What will you do if you don’t have that? That’s one weapon they can’t take.’
I said, ‘Imma take a break. Please behave.’ and I went to the faculty lounge where Avanthika was hanging out, reading something.
Avanthika, “Yo! Don’t you have a class to teach?”
Me — ‘Look! All I did was make sense of their studies and now Michael wants to drop out. Walter? No hope on that guy either.’
She closed the book, smiled broadly, and asked, “And guess what? You want a solution! Look, life is hard at such an age. Obviously, they’re going to need some help.”
Pooja walked towards us, removing her airpods and stuffing them into her pocket. She added, “I know this cannot be solved with an equation. This requires words. Calculative and analytical thinking.”
Avanthika — “Pooj! Do you wanna take care of this?”
Pooja — “Already on it, Avi!” and she swiftly walked out.
Me — ‘I’d take a bullet for my kids. But they shot back today and I couldn’t dodge even one of them.’
Avanthika — “Ray! Your kids don’t need to understand the purpose of life. Like I know the reality and gravity of the situation. We all do. But they need to learn it and also understand that the college, the studies will help them find one. You don’t teach them to wage wars. You teach them how to win one.”
Many moments later, Maaran came in and took his water bottle. Then came the studious, acting principal Francis.
Francis — “Guys! I think you get paid to teach but not to sit and talk.”
Maaran looked at him and Francis said, “We’re not sure why we pay you at all.”
Maaran — “Hey! Not cool man. You wanna teach my class now?”
Francis — “Alright, call it even. Let’s discuss the Annual event in 15 mins in the meeting room. Call Mr. Jacob as well.”
As they both walked out I looked at Avanthika, ‘Can I confess something, Avi?’
She politely kept the book down and shook her head. Avanthika understood that it was something serious and asked, “Do you wanna take a walk while you talk?”
We went to the lawn near the parking and we walked to and fro between the two lines of parked bicycles.
“You’ve been silent, Ray! You said there’s a confession.”
I stopped walking and looked down. With much hesitation, I looked at her to talk.
‘I don’t know if I have the strength to confess. To anybody in that regard. But there’s this one thing I wanted to say to someone, even Maaran but never really found a good time for it.’
Avanthika — “Well, I’m all ears. I won’t speak until you say. The stage is all yours. Please, go ahead.”
Me — ‘I have known someone …’
My phone rang.
It was from my brother. I rejected the call and moments later Avanthika received a call from him. We understood it was something serious and she gave it to me, ‘What is it, Sangeet?’
Sangeet — “Found Kiran! I mean the place where I suspect she’d be. I want you to be ready if Jeff is also going to be there. I will call you once I reach the location because I did not get enough manpower. Stupid inspector and his more stupid DND mode. Also, Jeff and Kiran are not the only two people. So, need you to bring reinforcements. Bring Avi if you can. She’s actually stronger than you and Maaran” and he cut the call.
I looked at the phone and said, ‘He found Kiran’s location. He suspects that Jeff did not take her and they were both kidnapped along with many others. Looks like his inspector friend did not attend the call. I’ll go to the police station now. You go straight to Maaran and ask him to be ready. Here, take my car. I’ll go with the Inspector.’
~to be continued