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Insanely Inane Thoughts

If fate doesn't make you laugh, you just don't get the joke.

The Test

A short story

"Tonight's the night," said Rajesh to Vikram as he bit into his sandwich. Vikram had been looking palpably distressed ever since Rajesh had hatched the plan and by the looks of it, Vikram might have been happier donating both his kidneys and live the rest of his life on a dialysis machine rather than to go through with the plan.

"Don't tell me that you are having second thoughts about it," said Rajesh as he observed the milieu of emotions running over Vikram's face.

"Actually, I'm well past second thoughts, Rajesh. I may well be into my thousandth thought right now," Vikram said sarcastically.

A smile flickered over Rajesh's face as Vikram stared at his lunch rather forlornly. The canteen was teeming with students and the din that they were creating muddled Vikram’s thoughts. He let out an audible sigh.

"Now now, don't be so worried over the plan. I have thought over every possible scenario and there is almost nothing that can go wrong with our plan."

"Not our plan, Rajesh. It's your plan."

"Alright, baba, alright. Nothing can go wrong with my plan but if the chickens come home to roost, I will be the one roosting the most." He then proceeded to roost like a chicken, which earned him looks that were reserved for, well, humans roosting like chickens while eating a chicken sandwich.

Vikram looked at Rajesh, who had reached the stage where one flails their arms while roosting, and he couldn't help but smile at him. It did relieve the stress for a bit but he still wasn't convinced. Rajesh had told him about the plan a week ago and ever since that day, his mind had wandered during the lectures. He had become so preoccupied with the plan that he lost track of his thoughts. He would break into a nervous sweat in the middle of a lecture and he would have felt compelled enough to excuse himself.

“C’mon yaar, you know how important the test is. It’s make or break for us,” said Rajesh as he stopped flailing his arms.

“Yeah man; it’s because of how important the test is that I even gave this plan of yours a thought,” said Vikram slowly.

The plan was simple. They had to make a copy of the test paper from the Principal’s office.

“So, you are definitely in?”

“If you thought that I was going to let you ace the test all by yourself, you are grossly mistaken,” said Vikram a little more resolutely.

“You are not going to regret this, Vikram,” said Rajesh as he high-fived Vikram.

“So where do we meet and when do we meet?” asked Vikram.

“Hmmm… you won’t be regretting this,” mumbled Rajesh, who had been eyeing an attractive girl sitting a few tables away. She caught him looking and flashed a perfect smile at him. He was going to smile back but shouted out an expletive instead. The girl looked away disgusted as Rajesh glared furiously at Vikram.

“Why the hell did you have to kick me like that?” asked Rajesh as he bent over to rub his shin.

“We have enough to think about already and we wouldn’t want some girl to be the one who brings us down,” said Vikram.

“That somegirl is a real looker,” Rajesh said as he tried to catch her attention once again.

“Once we are done with the plan, you can do whatever you want to do with your loins. Till then, we have to concentrate, Rajesh. C’mon yaar, you said that tonight’s the night. All you have to do is focus for one night. Theek hai?” Alright?

“Alright man; let’s do it,” said Rajesh enthusiastically.

“So, when and where do we meet today?”

“By the library; say 7-ish,” said Rajesh.

“How the hell will be able to get in at that time?!?” asked Vikram. Suddenly, the plan sounded very stupid to him.

“Easy. I’ve got permission to stay back in the library till about 8 in the evening. I told the Principal that I would like to stay back and study for the big test and he was more than happy to oblige --“

“That covers your ass; how will I get in without being seen?” thundered Vikram.

“Hear me out, buddy. I’ve got permission to stay back till 8. Now what you have to do is simple; ask the Principal if you can stay back and study for the big test. In fact, you can tell him that you wanted to get some doubts cleared by me and –“

“Bullshit. This is your plan? It’s not going to work. Even if it did, he would know it was us.” Vikram was shaking his head as he said these words. He was right; this was the stupidest plan he had ever heard.

“Hear me out,” Rajesh growled at Vikram as he caught hold of his hold.

“Listen, Rajesh. If you want to commit hara-kiri, I won’t stop you but don’t include me in this harebrained idea.”

Rajesh pulled Vikram towards him as he leaned in towards Vikram.

“What if I tell you that I’ve already been into his office?"

“So what, even I’ve been into his office. Many people have been into the Principal’s office,” snapped Vikram.

“I’ve been into his office after school hours, Vikram. When I was supposed to be studying late into the evening, I was in his office,” said Vikram as he let a small smile dance on his lips.

“You are kiddin’ me,” said Vikram as his eyes lit up with interest.

“Yep; I was kiddin’ you alright,” said Rajesh as he broke into a laugh.

There was such a lack of expression on Vikram’s face that it was an expression by itself. He stared at Rajesh with this unique expression as Rajesh laughed harder.

“Gotcha again. Relax; I’ve been into his office.”

“You can be such an asshole at times, you know that.”

“That’s what the girls tell me, Vikram,” said Rajesh light-heartedly. “Okay; all you have to do is get permission from him to stay back till late in the evening. That’s it.”

“I’ll do that,” said Vikram as the bells went off. The students began to clear off to their classrooms as the canteen wore a deserted look.

Chalo, yaar. We better get to class before we get crucified for being late,” said Rajesh as they walked off towards the washroom.

~*~*~*~

The rest of the day was a blur to Vikram. He had made his with into Principal Mishra’s office earlier in the day. He was more than happy to let Vikram stay back and study for the test.

The lectures were also a blur. Vikram rode on the wings of adrenalin for the rest of the day. Vikram was running late for a lecture and he almost ran over Professor Sharma as he hurried past the staff room.

“Ahhh, Vikram. Just the person I was looking for,” said Professor Sharma.

Vikram just smiled.

“Are you feeling alright, son? People have been telling me that you haven’t been yourself during the lectures. Now, we wouldn’t want a bright young man like you to be coming to school when ill, would we?” professor Sharma rambled on.

“It’s just a little headache, Professor,” said Vikram, tiring of Professor Sharma.

“Well, a lot of people get this headache before the big test, you know,” said Professor Sharma with a twinkle in his eyes. Vikram laughed with Professor Sharma before heading off towards the lecture room.

~*~*~*~

The fans whirred with a creaky harmony as Vikram and Rajesh made fluff talk. Both of them were nervous, Vikram more so than Rajesh but neither wanted the other to know. The air was rife with anticipation as the old librarian made her way towards Rajesh and Vikram.

“I’m all done for tonight, guys. Just make sure that you lock up the library before you go off for the night,” she said as she handed over the keys to Rajesh.

“Don’t worry, Helen. I’ve done this before, remember?”

“It never hurts to be careful, Rajesh. And don’t forget to have dinner, the two of you,” said Helen as she made her way towards the door.

Rajesh looked at Vikram and winked.

“It’s time, buddy. This time next week, we would have aced the test and we would be the envy of our school,” said Rajesh as he bundled the books into his bag.

“Let’s get hold of the paper first, Rajesh. We can start the celebrations later,” said Vikram, a little pragmatically.

“Don’t get all pragmatic on me, Vik. We are going to be stealing papers, remember?”

“It’s more like a sneak preview than stealing, Rajesh. Anyways, we won’t be taking it out of the room. We will copy it in Mishra’s office and we will be on our way. And, I hope you have got the candle,” said Vikram.

“Chillax, dude. I’ve got the candle, the lighter and the flash light,” said Rajesh, gesturing towards his bag.

“What about Anurag?” Anurag was the guard for the evening.

“No problem; you will be staying back in the library while I get into Mishra’s office. If Anurag comes by and asks for my whereabouts, tell him I had to make a little trip to the boys’ room.”

“How long will it take you, Rajesh?”

“I won’t be gone long. Getting into Mishra’s office is a breeze; I’ve done it before. Getting the papers off the drawers will be a little tricky. That may take me a few minutes. Once I have got the envelope, I will have to make sure that the wax seal doesn’t fall off. I’d take out the papers and take photographs; it’s all digital. The I’d have to light the candle and reseal the envelope –“

“I’m sure you have it all planned out. How long in minutes is all I want to know?”

“Say around fifteen to twenty minutes,” said Rajesh, jovially. He was in a charged up mood.

“So I stay in the library and have Anurag believe that both of us are in the library, eh?”

“Yep; that’s all you have to do.”

“Alright; go for it, buddy!”

~*~*~*~

Vikram did make a little trip to the boys’ room before heading off to Principal Mishra’s office. And to his surprise, he found the guard in the boys’ room.

“Still studying, eh?”

“Yeah, but today I’ve got company in the library.”

“Glad to hear that. Studyin alone can be a real pain, I tell ya. But I won’t keep you waiting; I’ll be in the yard having my dinner in case you need me,” said the guard as he made his way out.

Rajesh was overjoyed. Wow, things are going better than he had planned. With the guard in the yard, he wouldn’t even notice if the lights were on in the Principal’s office. He smiled to himself.

~*~*~*~

Click.

All Rajesh had needed to get into the office was a wire and a plastic card. Schools can be very lax when it comes to security. But truth be told, schools do not have a treasure trove stowed away in their offices so one wouldn’t be bothered with hi-tech security.

Rajesh entered the office and put his bag on the couch as the door shut softly behind him.
He removed the flashlight and a screwdriver and looked at the cabinet. There were many drawers to be busted open, he noted frustratingly.

He crouched down and began work on the first of the many drawers. He held the flashlight by his teeth and eased open the drawer. He rummaged through a lot of letterheads and stationary before deciding that this drawer was useless.

He repeated the process over and over again as the drawers came ajar one by one. Most of them contained stationary, daily logs, memos and certain forms that had to be sent out to the school board.

Finally, he found the drawer he had been looking for. He looked through the drawer and found the envelope with the seal. Using his flashlight, he confirmed that these were the papers he had been looking for. He took out the envelope and his pocket started jumping all over him.

“Jesus!”

It was his cell phone; he cursed the caller as he took out the cell phone. It said “Vikram calling”

“What the fuck, Vikram?!” hissed Rajesh.

“Dude, I was getting scared. Is everything okay?”

“Everything is okay; I found the papers, Vik. Another ten minutes and I’ll be done. Did the guard drop by?”

“Yeah; man, he freaked me out when he came in. But all he did was tell me that he would be in the yard having dinner.”

“Yep, that’s what he told me too. Don’t freakin’ worry and let me do the job without giving me a heart attack,” said Rajesh as he cut short Vikram’s call.

The call had startled him and he decided to hurry. He lifted the seal gently and took out the papers. Finding the ones he needed, he used his cameraphone to get the snapshots of the questions.

He put the papers back into the envelope and lit the candle. He used the wax from the candle and sealed the envelope as it had been before he had violated its sanctity.

He let out a sigh of relief and set about shutting the drawers properly. It took him another five minutes and in all, it had taken him thirty minutes to do what he had set out to do.

He checked the room for traces of a break-in and cleared the floor of any candle wax and then eased himself out of the office. His heart was beating at the rate of knots and his shirt was drenched with sweat. He freshened up in the boys’ room before going back to the library.

He found Vikram pacing frantically outside the library.

“What’s up, dude?” asked Rajesh nonchalantly as he sneaked up to Vikram.

“Fuck! Don’t do that man; I was almost ready to rush towards Mishra’s office,” said Vikram, frenetically.

“Relax, dude. Everything is in order. All we have to do is lock up the library and go home and study for the test.”

“Study for the test?!?”

“Yep; study from the copy of the question paper,” said Rajesh, allowing himself a smile.

“I hope we don’t get caught, man. Really, what if we get caught?!?” Vikram was going crazy, Rajesh thought. Anyone would have thought that it was Vikram who broke into the office.

“It’s not going to happen.”

For Vikram, this half hour had been an ordeal while for Rajesh; it was little more than a walk in the park.

“I hope that’s how it stays,” whispered Vikram.

~*~*~*~

A week had elapsed since the fateful day. The test had been very, very easy for them; as it should have been. The results were to be declared any day now.

Vikram had been in the middle of a lecture when Rajesh interrupted the class. That’s funny, Vikram thought. Shouldn’t Rajesh be in class?

“What’s wrong?” asked Vikram, perplexed.

“The Principal wants to see us, Vikram,” said Rajesh, a little anxious.

“What for?” asked Vikram, panicking.
“I don’t know, Vikram. But we have to go meet him,” said Rajesh, feeling a bit angry with Vikram for panicking so easily.

“Is it about the test? It has to be about the test!” wailed Vikram as he clutched Rajesh’s arm.

“This is it, Rajesh. The end of our career; we are doomed. A black mark; we will be thrown out of school.” Vikram was delirious with incoherence.

“Shut up, Vikram. People are watching you,” grumbled Rajesh as they made their way to the Principal’s office. Indeed, students had been watching the two of them; they made for an odd couple. One was as delirious as the other was stoic.

“Man, I knew that plan wouldn’t work. Why did I listen to you?” moaned Vikram.

“Lets see what the Principal has to say. Now, stop whining and be quiet. I’ll do all the talking,” said Rajesh as they knocked at his door.

“Come in,” said a deep, baritone voice. The voice further weakened Vikram’s resolve.

The duo walked in with conflicting thoughts in their mind.

“Ahhh, the partners-in-crime,” resonated Principal Mishra’s voice. Rajesh grabbed Vikram’s hand as panic darted into Vikram’s eyes.

“It depends on what the crime is, sir,” said Rajesh, good-naturedly.

“Indeed it does,” said Principal Mishra, mischief written all over his voice. “The two of you have set an unprecedented example; that was quite naughty of you two,” said Principal Mishra.

Rajesh stared blankly at him with a fake smile plastered on his face while Vikram grappled with his emotions.

“Tell me how you did it,” said Principal Mishra.

Ohhh God, he knows; thought Vikram. That’s it; maybe I can become a guard one day.

“We did what, sir?” asked Rajesh with a little edge that had crept up in his voice.

“Don’t act so naïve, gentlemen.”

“Sir, we have no idea what you are talking about.”

“Nobody has warned you about this so far?” asked an incredulous Principal.

“No, sir,” said Rajesh.

“All I wanted to know was how the two of you managed to top the Teacher’s Accreditation test?”
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