It was a typical long recess in our school. Freed from the restricting confines of the classroom after nearly half a day, the school was abuzz with activity. One hour of cricket, talk and more cricket was to follow as particularly tempting tiffin boxes were flash raided and the ordinary ones were gulped down in as less morsels as possible. Running circles in incoherent joy was the norm, such was the great pleasure at this mid-day pressure release.
Part of the running brigade was Tushar, a junior who was racing in happy abandon behind his friend through the corridor. Everyone else who wasn't involved in purposefully physical unnecessary activities stood at the sidelines munching away at their tiffins before they too had their hands free to do something wild & shrug off the class induced heaviness on their minds. It wasn't unusual for someone to join in the fun uninvited so did Tushar's friend, another junior whose name I forget. He stuck out a leg from behind a classroom door for the speeding duo at exactly the moment which was required to cause the most spectacular bone-crunching tumble I've seen in my 25 years on this planet. I don't think that he intended Tushar to put up such a show but boy, did Tushar fly that day and almost cartwheeled to a tremendously comic fall! The corridor howled with laughter and the building shook with the reverbations of mirth.
The laughter lasted exactly for the time it took for Tushar to gather his embarassed self off the floor. Then there was silence as everyone saw that he had so obviously not taken this fall in the slightest of good humour. His face was dark with anger and he was no Tiny Tim as far as school kids in the 7th standard go. He was a big, hefty guy quite opposite to the size of the braveheart who had brought his downfall. He stalked up to the leg poker who now looked like he had seen his own death and was gulping down his last few mouthfuls of air. Tushar seized him by the collar and now the crowd closed in expecting to see a live murder so soon after an excellent show of slapstick humour.
However the commotion and thunderous laughter post Tushar's fall had drawn the attention of our class teacher, Kalpana Miss (the very improbable scenario of a teacher hanging around the classrooms during the LONG recess came true that day) who pierced through the crowd at the exact moment Tushar had laid his hands on his tripper's collar. She walked right upto Tushar and without any hint of hesitation gave him a resounding slap on the face admonishing him "Very proud of your big muscles, huh? Terrorizing kids smaller than you physically! Shame on you. Now get out of here." Needless to say, she was totally unaware of the events that had preceded this particular case of 'bullying'.
Tushar of course was in no state to explain. The most dazed expression inhabited his face as he stumbled away zombie-like with one hand nursing his cheek, not helped at all by his hurting legs. He could've very well stood and fought his defence but life's utter cold-heartedness had totally robbed him of any response. He just couldn't comprehend this level of inequity and chose wisely to bail out of this situation rather than to prolong his agony. As Kalpana Miss walked off to the staffroom for her lunch, no one spoke up in Tushar's defence. All of us were too busy rolling on the floor in stomach wrenching, gut splitting laughter!