(This is a feeble translation of a story by Sukumar Ray)

Ramapada came to school with a canister of sweets; it was his birthday. During the lunch break, he distributed the sweets amongst us, and we ate our share with relish. Only Dashu did not eat.

It is not that Dashu didn't like sweets. But the fact is that Dashu and Ramapada did not get along well and could not see eye to eye with each other; the two were always quarreling.

"Give some sweets to Dashu, too," we told Ramapada.

"Hey Dashu, would you like some sweets? If your mouth is watering, you may have some. But you must promise never to quarrel with me again; only if you promise, I will give you the sweets," Ramapada said.

Said this way, it would have angered anyone. But Dashu spoke not a word; he went to Ramapada and took the sweets. He called the watchman's goat to him and fed the sweets to it in front of everybody! Dashu stood for a while, eyeing the canister and chuckling to himself over some amusing thought. Then, he went out of school. Meanwhile, we fell on the canister and emptied it; after that, we played games, forgetting all about Dashu; no one gave him a thought.

When the class assembled after the break, we found Dashu sitting in a corner and solving math problems with utmost concentration. I smelt a rat at once. "Hey Dashu, have you done something?" I asked him. "Yes, I have solved two GCM problems," Dashu replied innocently. "Bah! Who wants to know about your math problems? You haven't planned some mischief, have you?" I rephrased my question. This question annoyed him, and Dashu almost complained to the teacher who was about to enter the classroom. We calmed him down with much difficulty.

The school-teacher was an easygoing person; he did not rush through the studies. Sometimes, when we made a little more noise than usual, he would get angry and fly into a rage.

Soon after taking his chair, Pondit Mohashoy (teacher) told us to recite the Sanskrit noun forms and dozed off. We opened our books and chanted whatever came into our heads, and, in reply, heard the melodious sound of snoring issuing forth from Pondit Mohashoy's nostrils. We realized he was sound asleep. So we brought out our slates and played tic-tac-toe. At times when the sound of snoring receded, we would put away the slates and start chanting nouns; this worked as an effective lullaby, and the snoring would pick up once again.

Everyone was busy playing; only Dashu sat in his corner doing something on his own. No one paid any attention to him. After some time, we heard a a sound, "phut", which seemed to come from below the planks under Pondit Mohashoy's chair. Pondit Mohashoy, who was still in the grips of sleep, frowned, said "humph", and was about to scold us for making noise when all hell broke loose! "Phut-phat", "dhoom-dham", "dhab-dhoob" ... all kinds of sounds emerged from under the chair and shook the whole school. It seemed as if all the masons and labourers had gathered together and were pounding away on the rooftop. Artisans hammering away incessantly and bouncers tapping their clubs in a frenzy competed with them.

The sudden eruption of the cacophony left us bewildered, and we sat with our mouths wide open. Pondit Mohashoy uttered some strange word, sprang over his table throwing his limbs in all directions, and fell in our midst. Navin Pal from the Government College was a top high-jumper. He always went away with the first prize in any competition, but even he couldn't have emulated Pondit Mohashoy's feat! Kids from a lower grade were reciting tables in high-pitched unison in the adjacent classroom; they were overcome with fear and stopped reciting. Within minutes, the whole school was gripped by fear and plunged into commotion. Even the watchman's dog started barking itself hoarse and added to the chaos.


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