Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Unascertained Loss

Anusha sniffed and rubbed her nose harder. She didn’t want to cry but she couldn’t control herself. Her nose was running and her cheeks were glowing red and shining due to the tears on them.

Utkarsh, her teacher, looked at her and almost pitied her. Almost! He knew that it was not the time to be lenient. These lessons in childhood create the platform for the future and children are the future of this country.

“Anusha! Stop crying.” He said in a stern voice.

“Yes sir.” Anusha said trying to stop her tears but couldn’t succeed. She didn’t want to disappoint him but she failed.

“Sorry sir.” Anusha said looking at him, her eyes shining with tears. His heart melted despite himself. He stretched his arms and picked Anusha up and put her on his lap.

“I can’t stay mad at you forever.” Utkarsh said and started wiping her face with his napkin. He even gave her a peck on the cheek. “Now, who is a good girl?” Utkarsh said pinching Anusha’s cheek. Anusha sniffed but started to get composed.

Utkarsh could see that Anusha was hesitant to talk to him about something.

“Something is still bothering you, isn’t it?” He asked softly. Utkarsh liked Anusha the best in the class and while he might favour a kid here or there, Anusha remained his favourite student. In fact, he might have left the school by now if not for Anusha. Her charm and innocence had a magnetic attraction to it and even before he had met her, her fame had reached him through other teachers. Even then, he was surprised by the affection he had generated for her in such short time.

Anusha nodded in a no but started to look down — a tell-tale sign that she was lying. Utkarsh smiled. She was only eight and thought that adults couldn’t understand, typical child.

“Come on, tell me.” Utkarsh said playfully.

“Its still hurting.” Anusha whispered after much cajoling from Utkarsh. Hearing this, his smile flattened.

“I am sorry for that Anusha. I was angry and I got carried away. I wasn’t even angry at you. I am extremely sorry.” He couldn’t believe that five minutes earlier he was thinking of being strict with her. And now, he was apologising for punishing her and telling her that it wasn’t her fault. He can never be a good teacher, Utkarsh sighed.

Anusha looked at him. She trusted Utkarsh and after sometime she believed him. He had been kind to her ever since he joined the school. In the past six months, she had tried to be his model student and in return, he has been the best teacher, she had ever had. She hated disappointing him and he always let her know when she would let him down.

“So, who’s my good girl?” Utkarsh said smiling.

“I am.” Anusha said smiling, finally.

“Now scoot. I have other work as well.” Utkarsh said half-stern, half-jokingly. Anusha giggled and went out of his room to the next class. He had taken almost all of last period and when she reached her class, the school was over so she just went and picked her bag from the class and went to her bus.

Utkarsh knew that Anusha wouldn’t go and babble about this at her home. Still, he realised that he got carried away and it was not right. He can’t do something like this again, without repercussions. He will have to be careful. While Anusha was attached to him quite a lot, he can’t expect the same devotion from the others. If something like this would have happened with someone else, he would have been outed and would probably be in jail before he could even pack his bag, assuming any of the parents do not reach him to kill him first.

Utkarsh had learnt quite early in his life the kind of girls he liked. Young, pretty, innocent and before they are marred by the hormones of teenage — unblemished. Equally quickly, he realised that one can’t force a child to do anything, at least not for long. They are honest and would tell the truth, sooner rather than later. Also, they didn’t feel shame or guilt or any other feeling that adults feel and thus are easy to predict and manipulate. You can’t use fear to control a child’s voice. You use love and trust.

He decided to become a teacher for primary schools. This was his third school — changing schools before getting caught was almost as important as it was to catch them early. This time however, he was stuck. He was really smitten by Anusha.

The first time he kissed her, he knew that she will be the one who might get him caught. Still, he kept going after her, controlling her, manipulating her, ensuring that she doesn’t tell anything at home and loving her. Giving her so much care, attention and love that even when she is in pain, she is apologising to Utkarsh.

In truth, Utkarsh accepted that he had been harsher on her than usual today. He was preoccupied with the problems of the work today and she became an outlet for all his frustration today.

“Its ok. I will make it up to her tomorrow.” Utkarsh thought and smiled.

Anusha reached her home and got off the bus. Sitting in the bus was a torture today. She lied down on the bed in a position that hurt the least. She remembered the first time it had happened. Anusha had felt a similar pain then, even sharper. However, her teacher had been very kind to her and helped her through the whole thing. He taught her how to kiss properly but she still couldn’t do it, and other things, right sometimes. Anusha felt guilty that she was slow to learn these things and hoped to improve herself. Anusha knew that it was right for Utkarsh sir to punish her today but she decided to become the best at the thing he was teaching her today.

Sometimes, she would think of telling her parents the new things she was learning from Utkarsh sir but he told her specifically to not tell them. She didn’t understand why he didn’t want her to tell her parents but she trusted him. He was an adult, who understood her, who cared for her and who loved her.