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Part 1

They’d never been late before. Ms.I usually made girls who came late kneel down outside the class.

R said, “Ms.I will understand, she won’t punish us.” believing naively that they had done nothing wrong. The watchman asked them how come they were without bags as he opened the gate with a disapproving look. They muttered something about their bags being inside and ran through the ground to the assembly area. The school was praying “Our Father in Heaven, Holy be your name…” in chorus. They stopped in their tracks as they had been instructed several times to do during the prayer. They closed their eyes and said the prayer in whispers with the rest of the school “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.”

The school dispersed. The girls walked in lines to their classrooms chattering and giggling. K and R’s class too was walking towards their classroom. Ms.I followed. K and R took their bags and entered the classroom. Ms.I looked at them sternly. All the 50 girls in their classroom were seated in pin drop silence. K ad R felt the tension in the air. Ms.I had probably seen their bags and asked some of the girls where K and R were. The news had spread. They were in trouble.

Ms.I called them both, “Kavitha, Riddhima, come here!” in a calm but stern voice.

K and R walked up to the front of the class. “How dare you leave your bags here and go out?” K struggled to explain about forgetting her report card and going back home to get it when Ms.I slapped her across the face. K’s hand shot up to her cheek to soothe the stinging of the slap. “Ms.I I only did it because I didn’t want to be punished for forgetting my report card.” cried K finally managing to get the words out of her mouth. Ms.I slapped her on the other cheek. “I don’t want to hear anything, go kneel down outside.” she said in a loud voice.

K bent her head down in shame and walked out, tears now streaming down her face, Ms.I’s fingers imprinted red and slightly swollen on her cheeks. R already had tears in her eyes. It had been her idea to go get the report card. Ms.I now looked at her. “And what were you thinking? You are not even supposed to go to the playground in games hour!” she said and slapped her tight across her right cheek. “Go kneel down outside!” R left the class crying quietly not understanding why Ms.I was so upset. They had only done this to please her, so she wouldn’t be upset K had forgotten her report card. R went out and knelt down next to K. Two girls from class 8 walked passed them giggling. R bent her head down in shame and guilt she didn’t fully comprehend. She had wanted to help a friend. She had thought it was a good thing. Why would Ms.I punish them?

She didn’t think it was fair. It was her first lesson in the adult world of twisted justice.