What was Aamir’s welcome like at this prestigious boarding school?
Enjoy Chapter 2 of Friends Forever, the novel for teens by Ramendra Kumar serialized exclusively on LnC. Illustrations are by Avijit Sarkar.
Things went according to plan. Ashfaque chachu was at the bus stand to receive him. They went to his house and an hour later they were at the entrance of TPS. The school building was a magnificent structure which, he had read, had been inspired by the Indo-Mughal style of architecture. There were three blocks: one main and two others behind it almost facing each other. The main block housed the office where Aamir reported along with Ashfaque chachu. He presented his certificates. The young lady in the office scanned through them, made him fill three forms and then said, “We have four Houses: Nanak, Buddha, Kabir, and Mahavir. You have been placed in Kabir House. The Hostel is behind this building, adjacent to the football field. You have to report to your House Master, Mr Senu Greg. His room is on the second floor. If he is not in, please wait for him. Senu Sir will be there by 4 o’clock, once classes are over.”
The time was 3.30 pm and the students were in their classes. Aamir and Ashfaque went to the hostel and managed to locate Senu Sir’s room. It was locked. They waited on a wooden bench outside.
At around 4:10 pm they saw a tall, dark and well-built man walking towards them.
They got up. “Good afternoon, Sir. I am Aamir Hussain from Warangal and this is my local guardian, Mr Ashfaque Ali,” Aamir said.
“Welcome, Aamir. I have been expecting you,” Senu Sir said and shook hands with both of them.
They went in and sat down.
“You will be sharing a room with another student from Kabir House. This is your spare key. In TPS we observe strict discipline. The school gates close at 10 o’clock at night and open only at 7:00 the next morning. Anyone found outside or not found inside is dealt with strictly. We also follow a strict dress code. I hope you have brought your uniform, your nightdress, two pairs of shoes and the rest of the stuff, as per the list given to you, apart from, of course, your books.”
“Yes, sir,” Aamir replied feeling a bit nervous for the first time.
“Okay then, you can say goodbye to your guardian and settle down. You shall have to attend classes from tomorrow morning.”
Aamir hugged Ashfaque chachu and, picking up his suitcase, started walking towards Room No. 21 which was at the end of the corridor.
He opened the door and let himself in.
The room was quite neat and tidy with two beds, two study tables in two corners and two wall almirahs.
Aamir unlocked his suitcase and in half an hour or so had arranged his things neatly in the wall almirah and study table. He then took a bath. By the time he had finished, it was past 6:00 pm. He changed into his nightdress. His roommate had still not turned up. He was hoping he would be a friendly sort of fellow and not a snob.
He was sitting propped up in bed, reading a book when he heard footsteps. The footsteps stopped in front of his room. Aamir looked up.
Four boys, all approximately his age, were standing. One was tall and lanky with a prominent Adam’s apple. The guy next to him was shorter and fatter with a face as flat as a pancake. The third guy had cauliflower ears and a nose which seemed to spread all over his face, while the fourth fellow was of medium height and build with a round face and curly hair.
“Look who is here,” Curly Hair said.
“Must be the new guy, Senu was talking about,” Pancake replied.
“You know guys, his father is a technician and can’t afford this fellow’s school fee. He is here on dole,” Cauliflower Ears remarked.
Aamir gripped the edge of his bed trying to control his anger. He did not want to start the first day on a wrong note.
Curly Hair looked at him and said very sweetly, “Come here, dear. Let us introduce ourselves.”
Aamir hesitated and then getting up, walked to the door.
“I am Shantanu,” Curly Hair said pointing to Adam’s Apple, Pancake and Cauliflower Ears, “And these three are Hyder, Ganesh, and Ajay.”
“I am Aamir Hussain.”
“Wow Aamir what a lovely night dress. Is it your father’s?” Shantanu said, and the other three roared.
Aamir once again turned red. The nightdress was one size too large for him and he was now acutely aware of the fact.
“Whoever designed this for you should have his or her eyes examined.”
“My mother stitched it for me.”
“My God! What is this school coming to? We now have children of workers and tailors coming here to study! Next, we’ll probably have rickshaw pullers and maidservants sending their kids. My mum will faint if I tell her about you, dearest Aamir,” Shantanu sniggered and the other three doubled up laughing.
Aamir took a step forward, his fists clenched and his eyes blazing.
“Oh! Our chhote nawab is getting angry. He wants to teach me a lesson,” Shantanu said cringing in mock fear. He then took a step forward and grabbing Aamir’s right arm twisted it suddenly.
“Ouch!” Aamir winced, lashing out. But by then Hyder had got hold of his other arm.
“What’s going on here?”
The bullies looked behind and released Aamir. He stepped back nursing his arm, which was still aching.
A boy was standing glaring at Shantanu. He was around their age but taller, with an athletic build. He was dusky, with a prominent jaw and sharp eyes, which were blazing.
“What do you think you are doing in my room, Shantanu?” he said.
“We were welcoming our new friend who seems to think he has come to a fancy dress competition.”
“Well, I certainly didn’t like your style of welcoming. Now get lost before I start welcoming you.”
Shantanu glared at him for a few seconds and then walked away with his chamchas in tow.
The newcomer turned to Aamir. “I am Sagar, you must be my new roommate,” he said, offering his hand and flashing a friendly smile.
“My name is Aamir,” Aamir said shaking hands. He was relieved that Sagar and not someone like Shantanu was his roommate.
They got talking and within an hour Aamir knew quite a bit about Sagar. His parents, Sushant Reddy and Lavanya, were both working. While Sushant owned a garments factory, Lavanya was one of the prominent lawyers of the city. They lived in a duplex in Banjara Hills, one of the best areas of Hyderabad.
“If your parents are in the same city why are you staying in a hostel? You should be staying with them.”
“TPS is the best school in Hyderabad, but fortunately or unfortunately it is only residential.”
Aamir also told Sagar about himself, his background, and how he had made it to TPS.
“Terrific dude. Your parents are great. You should feel proud of them.”
“Yes, I am. And that is why when Shantanu started making fun of them I couldn’t tolerate it.”
“Shantanu is a skunk. Don’t bother about him. If he acts funny, just tell me, I’ll take care of him,” Sagar said flexing his muscles and grinning.
“Why is he scared of you?”
“Two years ago when I joined this school he tried acting funny with me. He and his three jokers surrounded me on the cricket ground and started roughing me up. At that time nobody was aware that my uncle Hemant Reddy had been the state heavyweight boxing champ and had taught me quite a few tricks. Well, when Shantanu and his gang pushed me around I went for them. I landed a couple of punches on their unsuspecting jaws and they turned tail and ran. Since then Shantanu and his stooges are wary of me.”
Read on to Chapter 3
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