Sunday, February 5, 2012

TRIPLE FIVE - Year Two: False accusation compels change of school

As always I chose to sit at the back by the window side. My juniors became my classmates. From the window I could see my friends in the other classroom. Seeing them in different classroom only brought me regrets. “Had I been little bit careful in my studies, today I would be sitting with them,” I would think.

I would start every morning towards school by 8.00 am. The distance was about a kilometer and half. In the evening I would head back home soon after the 8th period. I was a day scholar then. Being day scholar, I missed most of the things that our school offered. I could not afford to take part in most of the extra-curricular activities. Of all these, I missed regular gossips in the evenings with my friends. Life went on as I gradually got myself accustomed to it.

One summer morning, I happened to over sleep. Everyone in the house was up. My cousin’s wife was busy cooking breakfast. My cousin was nowhere to be seen. Filled with guilt for oversleeping, I folded my bed and straight away went to toilet with toothbrush clamped in my mouth. The toilet was a pit latrine with no door, situated in between banana plants, the trunks of which served the purpose of its door. Once in the toilet, I checked around to confirm that no one saw me pull down my pants. To my surprise, my cousin’s babysitter who used to be my distant cousin sister stood watching me from behind those banana trunks. I waited for awhile hoping that she would go. But she wouldn’t go. This only made me postpone my urgent call. So I decided to take it to a distant bush. In the bushes she followed too. I didn’t know what she wanted or what to do next. I was increasingly experiencing severe abdominal pain and to let it in my pants would only trouble me more. So I closed my eyes, pulled down my pants and pushed hard to relieve myself from this dreaded pain.

Much relieved, I slowly opened my eyes and she was gone.

At the water tap near the house, I rinsed my mouth, splashed handful of water on my face, wiped it with my towel and went in. Everyone in the house looked at me suspiciously as if some misfortune had struck the family. My cousin had returned too. Breakfast was served in an unusually silent manner. After that I headed to my school.

In the school, Lhendup (my first cousin) was the first person I met. Lhendup and I were put in the school on the same day. Today he has become senior to me by a year.

He said, “This morning our cousin was here surprisingly. He inquired if you possessed any money yesterday.”

“Then?” I asked.

“I said no,” he replied.

“I’m told he lost his money from below the wood stack outside the house,” he said.

“My god! Why did he keep his money underneath the wood stack?” I lamented.

“I don’t know, but he suspects you,” and we dispersed to our respective classes.

That whole day my mind was tormented with fear and shame of facing the false accusation when I returned home. I didn’t know what was taught in the class that day. I was beginning to think as to how I should face them or how I should respond to their accusations. I could think of only one answer – “I didn’t take it.” I was then relating all those unusual happenings of the morning to that lost case.

On my return that evening, my cousin’s wife came to me and said, “If you had taken it please return.” Cousin had not returned from the office yet.

“I swear, I’ve not taken it,” I responded, “You can check my box and things if you don’t believe.”
“Money is just a piece of paper and can be hidden anywhere,” she persisted.

“Actually my husband took that money to buy wheat the day before from me. That day he could not buy since he had to spend Nu. 100 from that amount (those days a quintal of wheat used to cost Nu. 400). So he kept Nu. 300 underneath that wood stack which disappeared the next morning,” she narrated desperately.

For me I had no other ways to convince her so I broke down into tears and settled silently in one of the corners.

The news about this spread so fast. After about a week my mother came to see me from home in complete shock and dismay. She looked worried. She took me to a corner and asked genuinely, "Did you take that money?"

"No Ama. How do I know if he had kept any money there?" I cried on her lap.

My mother went back to them and declared, "I'm sure my son wouldn't dare to lie to his mother. He says he didn't take that money when asked. If he has really taken your money it should come out from his box," and then she opened my wooden box in front of them.

"Even if money doesn't come out, he should have bought at least something from that money," murmured my mother as she searched through my things.

There were few shirts, pants and a gho in it and nothing else.

“I don’t find anything here. Do you still believe my son took your money,” my mother turned to cousin’s wife.

“No, we just thought he could have found it,” she backed off.

I had another few months to complete academic session. With a bit of hesitation and uneasiness still in my mind, life continued being with them only.

By third week of November my examinations were completed. I had to wait for my results until 17th December which meant couple of week’s free time. I spent my time helping them with works.

One morning, I went out to fetch firewood from those stacked outside. As I removed firewood one by one, surprisingly some gnawed pieces of currency notes came along with the woods. I peeked through the woods finding it hard to believe.

To my surprise the mice had made a beautiful home out of gnawed currency notes and dried grasses in the woods. It contained notes of Nu. 100 and Nu. 20 denominations, the sight of which saw a sudden gush of happiness in me.

“So this is the chance for me to prove my innocence,” I thought.

I picked up those pieces carefully. Holding it in my cupped hands, “I told you I did not take your money. Look here, your money has become a home for the mice in the wood stack,” I explained to cousin’s wife.
But my cousin’s wife always knew how to defend her position.

“This is just few amounts only. Likewise we lost many in the past,” saying this she turned away.

So this meant I’m still the culprit in the house.

And then when 17th December came Principal Sir announced, “Since our school is being upgraded to a High School, we can’t take in any additional students as borders. Therefore, those students who are day scholar may have to continue being so,” and the results were declared.

Hearing this I didn’t know what to do. “Day scholar! Another year of false accusations,” I thought.

“No. ..No, I can’t tolerate another round of false accusation.  I would rather drop school or may be think of changing my school,” I left for my winter vacations totally uncertain.

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