Mischief Managed – When I Bunked School

I belonged to a conservative middle-class family. My father was a strict disciplinarian and made sure rules and orders were obeyed in the family. He hated it when any of us remained outside after sundown. He praised punctuality and despised procrastination, especially those who delayed through laziness and apathy.

We grew up listening to these idioms, “Early to bed and early to rise, make a man healthy, wealthy and wise”, and “an early bird catches the worms.” Like a good daughter, I have followed all the rules to this day.

This is from when I had just turned sixteen

The surging hormonal events were contributing to my adolescent behavioral and emotional change trajectories in both positive and negative directions.

Valuing my own independence and making my own decisions were some of the main characteristics of behavior change.

I could feel there was a rebel growing behind this innocent and gullible facade who loved breaking the rules and trying out gutsy things. Fearlessness and audacity were bubbling up inside me. Taking risks and doing the stuff that I feared most tickled my fancy more than anything else.

I was at school. It was the last period before the lunch break.

Playing truant from school

Math sir gave us a problem and announced let’s see who uses her brain the most and solve this? Far from this, my mind was engaged in something else. I looked at two of my other friends Maya and Nitya and smiled inwardly at what was going on in our minds and what we were up to next. Though with our heads down we pretended to solve the problem.

As soon as the bell rang, we gathered notebooks and other stationeries, and before anybody could comprehend anything the three of us quietly walked out of the school premises in the blink of an eye.

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We walked and walked until we reached Maya’s house, it was empty as both her parents were working and both were going to return late today.

We came out of our school uniform and slipped into a nice pair of jeans and top. We undid our hair, removed the ribbon and clips, brushed it thoroughly, and left it loose and bouncy.

We rushed to the nearest movie theater which was just a few minutes walk from Maya’s residence. We had bunked our classes to watch this movie together which otherwise was not attainable. Belonging to a traditional family watching movies in the theater wasn’t perceived as virtuous and decent in the first place let alone watching with friends.

But I was headstrong and unruly

We secretly bought tickets and went inside the hall. We were on guard and avoided interactions with anyone to be noticed and recognized by any of our acquaintances. There was no dearth of our relatives and friends in the city who were such tattle tales that they were always on the lookout for such opportunities and later added fuel to the fire.

We finished watching and went back to Maya’s home. We changed back to school attire grabbed our bags and I took a rickshaw home but intentionally left it on the main road and walked on foot home. Because I never traveled by rickshaw unless it called for an emergency.

The moment I stepped inside the home I was bombarded with questions for which I had an inkling and I was prepared.

Where were you, why did you come so late today? Haven’t you become disobedient and rude nowadays?

My father asked furiously. His voice raised, eyebrows furrowed and his skin reddened with anger.

I said in a calm voice, Papa, the exam is near so I was studying with Maya.  The mother was aware of it.

I used to go there often so Father did not get suspicious and the mention of Mother subsided his wrath and irritation.

But when I saw my math sir sitting next to Dad, I was at my wit’s end. He used to live in the same mohalla and was a good friend of my father.

I was frozen with fear, what was he here for, did he get wind of our sudden disappearance from school? I was still brooding over it when I heard his voice, did you solve the question given in class?

I shook my head and said I am trying and scurried to my room.

I wanted this time to pass quickly without any further queries. I ate dinner and went to sleep early on the pretext of a headache.

I thought that I hid my misdeed and managed the situation. But a small doubt crept into my mind what would if people noticed our disappearance from school and complained about it to the principal? This would open a whole can of worms and things would go from bad to worse, I sighed.

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