Ambar was my classmate, staying nearby. Though not brilliant in his academic records, he always managed to be one of the top ten scorers from our section. He was typically identified by his thick glasses with a big school bag at his back.
Rajish was our common friend, from the same section. He was quite a funky guy with a stupid sense of humour. He never skipped a single opportunity to exploit Ambar’s innocence, even while in class.
We used to drive to school in the same bus, alighting at three consecutive stops. But we hardly met ever beyond school hours.
We were in eighth standard then. Our half yearly exam was scheduled to start from next Monday. Just the previous night Ambar headed on to a big trouble. Unknowingly, his sister stepped on his spectacles, eventually breaking it. That was Ambar’s lone frame and it was never possible to buy a new one overnight. Thus, he had to anyhow manage the first exam with those broken glasses only. Ambar’s father tied it tightly with a cello-tape so that he could wear it temporarily during the exam.
Next day, we found Ambar boarding the school bus without any spectacles. It was a unique experience for both of us. Rajish consciously coughed at his sudden change in looks and inquired the reason behind his abrupt makeover. Poor Ambar! He could not judge how Rajish could respond to his troubled experiences. Ambar innocently explained what and how it broke in details. Rajish was listening to his pains with a very serious face. Once over with the description, he placed his point and middle finger jointly near Ambar’s nose and asked, “Can you see how many fingers are there?” Ambar was absolving enough to reply to it truly, without reading Rajish’s stupid mockery.
The exam started sharp at 10. Question papers were distributed. Geography was never my cup of tea. All the questions seemed equally difficult to me and hence thought of giving a visual round across the hall. Suddenly my eyes stuck at Rajish. What was he doing? Agreed that he’s a funky guy, but I never saw him cheating in exams before! He was sitting two rows ahead of me, diagonally right towards the wall. I found him indicating someone at my back with his fingers, perhaps regarding the short questions. Didn’t get when it caught the invigilator’s attention! All were startled at Ambar’s paper being caught on grounds of cheating. He had the impression of a typically good boy in class. Right away he snatched both of their papers and asked them to immediately leave the exam hall. Ambar wanted to say something, but the invigilator gave him no chance to clarify; just when Rajish pitched in almost forcibly. With a very serious face he explained it to the invigilator – “Actually sir, last night Ambar had broken his spectacles. As his power is too high, he cannot see anything in bare eyes. Was just checking whether he can see my two fingers with those broken glasses. No cheating sir. God promise!”; thus bursting the whole class into laughter.