THE ULTIMATE TRUTH
It was a beautiful clear morning of the small town of Zreeha, "the land of industrious people", as they said it. People were ready to leave their homes just after half an hour of dawn. Breakfasts were ready, there were voices & noises everywhere and one could hear the clattering of utensils put in the sink for immediate wash. It seemed that the town inhabitants were making themselves ready for a war.
But there was no war! Rather it was their enthusiasm which was showing it up in their preparation for a good start of the day. It was a routine for the people of Zreeha to get early in the morning, offer prayers according to their believes and start their preparation for going to their workplace whether it be an office, the fields or a small home based industry. Each and every day of theirs was full of hard work and devotion and they were NEVER late for anything. They were so punctual in their routines and dealings that the word "late" has long been forgotten.
But this was not true for everyone in Zreeha. There were few exceptions and one of them was Aimal. She was the only one in her house who was always late. She was never on right time, not even during her exams. On every exam day she tried to her best to be there in school at the right time but she never was! And that's why she was used to being punished and scolded.
It was yet another exam day when she was late as usual as before. It took her forty minutes to reach the magnificent building of 'The Learners School for Girls', from her home. She was on her bicycle, with a shopping bag containing her geometry box and paper pad hanging on the left side of handle, when she entered from school gate. Another ten minutes were gone in covering the distance from cycle parking to her class room. By the time she entered the exam hall-turned-class room she was fifteen minutes late. She was happy that it was only fifteen.
"Miss Aimal! Will you ever become serious in your life? Will you ever prove that you are a resident of Zreeha?" The scolding welcome by Mrs. Masira made her tremble.
"Madam I ... I …"
"Shut up! Take your seat and start your paper. Meet me in faculty room after the paper" she cried.
Aimal had hardly finished her paper in the available time when the fear of Miss Masira pounded her heart fiercely. With shivering body she took her belongings from her desk and headed towards the faculty room.
It was not the first time that she was late like this but it was for the first time that she was called by a teacher. She has been repeatedly scolded and warned but nothing could change her habit and it was not known that what would be done to her now.
"I did not want to do this! I don't know why I do this? Why I always become late despite all my efforts to make myself punctual? O Lord! Help me! Help me!" she was whispering in her heart and did not know when she closed her eyes while moving.
"Oooo …" she bumped with someone and immediately opened her eyes with the second person's shriek.
"You careless silly girl, always late and always pre-occupied" other side was someone familiar with her.
"Barina! You! What are you doing here?" Aimal shouted and than circumspect the corridor. There was no one except them.
"I think I can ask you the same question. Well, I was coming from the principal's office after having a fine for …"
"Being late?" Aimal cut her.
"Yes, and I think you are going for the same reason?" Barina popped
"Same reason but not to the principal's office, miss Masira called me when I got only fifteen minutes late" Aimal said frantically.
"Thank God it's not the principal yet. And for Miss Masira, have a tip from me. Just apologize straightforwardly, no err and say that you won't do this again. She will give you the last warning, simply nod and that's it and than everything will be alright. After you are done, come back to …"
"The same place?"
"Yes, the same place." Barina patted her and went on.
Upon reaching the faculty room, she put her shivering hand on the door handle and hesitantly opened it. Miss Masira was the first to be seen looking straight to her and than she saw others, all busy in their matters. No one else was looking at her, she felt a little relief.
"Sit down" she heard a firm voice and acted accordingly.
"Aimal! It was your last paper today and I wish it must be the last day of your life as a late comer. From now onwards you must be as punctual and regular as zreehans are. I will not tolerate this next time" with a little pause she started again "you are a good student Aimal and that's why you are very dear to me but your attitude towards punctuality is extremely careless which is a big stigma on you. I can call your parents but I think it is quite enough for a student, a GOOD student, to be called by a teacher because of her violation of discipline. I hope you won't do this again and you must not be, because Zreeha perishes those who don't maintain its customs." Last sentence was unbearable. Tears of embarrassment went down her cheeks. She was sobbing silently and after some moments she opened her mouth to say something.
"Go wash your face and come to me again" this time a soft voice ordered her. After some time she came back with glowing washed face. Just after taking her seat, she muttered,
"I am sorry madam …"
"No old sentences! And no need of new ones little girl!" she smiled "your new classes are going to start next week and I will be your Social Studies instructor this time. You probably know that six class has projects for every subject and I want you to do a History project from my subject"
"I am ready Miss Masira" she began excitedly "what the project is about?"
"I have a complete list of projects and it will be displayed at the beginning of next session i.e. next week. You can have your own ideas for project proposals and you have to work in a group of three. Important thing is you can choose students from other sections too. Think about it in your week-holidays and decide about the group. You can go now." She concluded.
"Thank you Madam!" she got up and headed hurriedly towards the backside of school.
This area was not in use for a very long time, probably for decades. Neither any school authority nor any student ever went to it as far as Aimal been in The Learner's school. It was termed as "backyard" anonymously. The only beings who visited it regularly were Aimal and Barina. It was their "secret place" where they played, talked and did other silly things without any disturbance. Aimal was the single child of her family and loved to have no disturbance in her private life. This was the reason she had very few friends and one of them was Barina. She was her best friend as she always quoted to her other two friends namely Kashana and Zaibi.
Barina was Aimal's class fellow but not her section fellow as Kashana and Zaibi were. She belonged to section E as she told Aimal in their early days of friendship. Aimal's was section B. Kashana and Zaibi knew that Barina was a section E student and was famous for her intelligence. They met her many a times but it was a coincidence that four of them never met at the same time. Most of the times, Aimal, Kashana and Zaibi were together as they shared the same section. Aimal usually met with Barina in the backyard and the other two had met Barina at different places as they told Aimal.
Running as fast as she could, she reached the backyard and found Barina sitting on an old bench.
"Why so hurry?" she inquired.
"I thought you would go if I don't reach at right time"
"You are late but I know that it's not your fault this time. And don't bother! I am not Miss Masira" she grinned.
Aimal laughed and than said "Barina do you know we would have projects in six class. We have to form a project of three students and …"
"And can give our own ideas. I knew it before that she will tell you this. You are excited?"
"Yes I am. How enjoying experience would it be when we, I mean, me along with you and Kashana will work together."
"We can't work together Aimal. Our sections are different."
"We can Barina! We can!" she was overwhelmed "Miss Masira said we can."
"But I wont" she bombarded.
"Why? What's the problem?"
"There are some problems Aimal but I can't tell you."
"What does this mean?" tears came in her eyes.
"I mean what I am saying, don't take it negative Aimal! Look our sections are different, there can be problems …"
"Bye!!" Aimal shouted and ran towards the cycle parking.