Over-enthusiastic, fake-looking smile plastered on smug face. Check.
Tucked in shirt. Check.
First bench occupant. Check.
Let’s call him Ankit.
We had barely registered the presence of the first of them among us, when another guy walked in.
This second guy walked, a full five minutes late. Being the first day of class and all, the teacher did not bother to scold him.
The second guy, let’s call him Aditya, however, had no intention of sitting at the back of the class like the rest of us latecomers.
He walked straight up to the first bench, looked quite displeased that Ankit had already taken up the best seat and then settled for the next best seat beside him.
Best, in the sense, closest to the teacher.
I could almost feel the amused smiles going around at the back of the class; this semester was going to be fun.
As the week progressed it became clear to us that if we were going to be late to class then Aditya better be with us.
Us: Three minutes late. “May we come in, Sir?”
“No, you may not come in. Get out of my sight you lazy, irresponsible bunch of morons.”
Aditya: 3 minutes later. “Sir please, may I come in Sir? Sorry Sir, my bus broke down and I had to walk. ”
“Sure son, come on in. How can it be anybody’s fault that the bus broke down?”
He might as well have said “Sir, my bus broke down and I had to get down and repair it because no one else knew how!”
Then Sir would be like “Oh that’s great son, you know how to repair a bus. Come on in.”
The first few days we used to curse him under our breaths. Then we just decided to make the best of our situation. We would wait outside class for Aditya to arrive and then we’d all get in with him. And Aditya, being Aditya, we all got away with it.
Once inside class, we would see Ankit’s face, smug as ever, having secured the ‘best’ seat once again. Aditya, however, would not be left behind. It hardly mattered if he got the second-best seat, he would more than make up for it by nodding his head vigorously every chance he got. So much so that we got dizzy by looking at him.
And God forbid, Sir felt like cracking a joke to lighten up the atmosphere.
“Q: Why is an obtuse angle always upset?
A: Because it is never right!”
Then Sir would look with confidence at his favourite students.
And then it would be a competition of whose laugh would be the loudest- Aditya’s loud cackle laugh or Ankit’s fake chuckle, or the combined sniggering of all the back-benchers.
“Would someone please distribute these papers?” and they were out of their seats in a trice.
And so it continued, the shameless fawning and the cheeky flattery, the teachers, surprisingly enough, not being able to see through it for an entire semester, and then the next semester and then the next…
And so the custom continued, every semester a new assortment of Ankits and Adityas would establish their dominion over the first bench with heavy hands, the former because he considered it his job to suck up to the teacher and the latter so that he could wriggle out of well-deserved punishments. Meanwhile, the teachers continued to overlook their mischiefs as long as they fed them with little bits of gossip about the back-benchers once in a while and kept nurturing their egos with fake compliments.
Photography By: Sarthak Dubey