The first day after the vacations was the most distressing day for all the children. Tia and I managed to come early and occupy our seats together. Ritika was my first cousin but still I spent maximum time in school with Tia. Ritika had no best friend in the class but she got along with everyone very well.
I used to curse Ritika in every exam season, not because my mom made her to study with me but because she repeated the same mistakes all over again.
“I have completed the article on Brain Drain. Can you check it now?” asked Ritika in a polite tone.
“I don’t have any other option!” I replied bluntly.
The sloppy alphabets, distorted words and irregular spacing between characters had already triggered my nerves. Grammatical mistakes and incorrect spellings agitated me more. I didn’t think about anything and I slapped her. She didn’t say a word. Sometimes we don’t realise how our hasty actions could make us repent later.
It was the final exam day. I grabbed my bag, skipped my breakfast and rushed to board the school bus. I remember our invigilator, Mrs. Johnson who wouldn’t let anyone to concentrate on his exam.
“God is watching you. The extra marks that you score with the help of cheating won’t help you in future. Honesty is the best policy,” she was muttering on and on in her shrilling voice and everyone was so engrossed in writing the exam like the world is going to end soon.
I was feeling extremely drowsy and suddenly everything blacked out in front of my eyes. I started leaning towards the floor and called the teacher in my fading voice. I could see Ritika running towards me and Tia busy with her exam without any pause, even after seeing my condition. Eventually I collapsed on the floor.
“Ankita, are you alright?” I could hear Ritika’s worried voice. I saw a bunch of people surrounding me. The dispensary doctor was holding a glass of glucose water, teacher with a packet of biscuits, and Ritika holding my hand; the same hand that had slapped her a day before. My eyes were searching for Tia who was not there. I gulped the glucose water in a single swig and made my way to the examination hall again. Ritika and I were given some extra time to complete the exam. While writing the exam, I was preoccupied with only one thought- no matter how much I would score in this exam; I had already failed in discerning people.