Progress Report
 
Sayak, a Class XI student of Springdale’s High School was bewildered taking a look at his annual exam report card. Physics 42, Maths 27, Chemistry 21 –he could not take any more glances at it. His preparation was not bad except for the pox that affected him just prior to the exams. A bad gang of friends in his neighborhood with whom he became pal in recent times also contributed to the misery. When he realized the true character of those drugs-affected new acquaintances of his, it was a trifle late. Adding salt to the wounds, Principal Mr. Das summoned him today only. With adrenaline flowing close to his veins, Sayak entered.

“Welcome Sayak, the disgrace of the school. Is this a report card? What's the matter?” yelled Mr. Das, Sir, er, I got pox…”

“Shut up, don’t try to cheat me. Wonder how your parents could tolerate this downfall. Plus they never attended any parent teacher meeting. I have consulted with other teachers too. I am sorry, you will miss a year” “Sir, give me a chance. Please...”

“Next year. Ask your father to sign the readmission forms tomorrow” Mr. Das didn’t waste any more time, he drove home fast—some guests were to come to his house today. A widower, Mr. Das had to make arrangements for refreshments for them. He was so busy with school issues of late that he could not make any prior arrangements. On reaching his para, he found a small gathering in front of his house. Have the guests already arrived? His daughter Bipasha must be home. As he alighted from the car, the small gathering started whispering. He asked Mr. Sen the matter. He kept silent.

He rushed towards his Bipasha’s room. She lay flat on the floor, an empty packet of Calmpose tablets lay beside her. Bipasha was motionless forever, her body chilled. Mr. Das couldn't control himself. In a trance he reached out for her bag and found her mark sheet inside. Oh god! Her Part I results were to be declared today. In all the school trouble, he had totally forgotten about it. But Bipasha was a good student and he had admitted her to good tutorials.

He opened the mark sheet and wasn’t he shocked? Thermodynamics 25, Optics 30, Quantum Mechanics 37…. Mr. Das seemed to see Sayak’s report card once more. The next day, a sunny morning, Mr. Das reached school at normal time. Specks of dust swirled around him like tiny bugs with wings of flame. The sunlit morning limped past holding a mangled hand out, begging for a change.

Sayak's father arrived shortly. Mr. Das called on him to his room. “Mr. Roy, I am sorry I took a wrong decision yesterday, I guess. He had got 50% marks in the half yearly exams and his previous record is not that bad, he said he had pox…na? Er....okay, I will give him one more chance.

He is promoted on trial but Mr. Roy; please do take good care of him. He is after all your only child”, said Mr. Das, his eyes moistening.