“Sleep tight, you morons,” muttered Arjun as he stepped out of his dorm with a bag slung over his back. The security guard had rung two bells a few minutes back indicating that it was two o’clock in the night. The guard must have gone to sleep after performing his duty perfunctorily. This was the best time to run away.
The annual exams were round the corner and Arjun was fully confident that he would fail in spite of all the efforts made by both his teachers and the Board of Education to make him pass by giving him free marks in the name of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. He wouldn’t score even ten percent in the written exams.
Sreesanth, his hero, was in jail. Who does not make use of a chance to earn a few lakh rupees more, wondered Arjun. His father was making lakhs every day.
Arjun’s father, Nakul Kulapati, was a an MLA of the ruling party. People came to him offering big packets or briefcases full of money. Nakul Kulapati gratified their wishes, fulfilled their dreams, and brought delight into their lives. True, the man had no time to enquire about his son’s studies. He hardly visited the school. He never worried about whether his son was passing or failing. Arjun knew that his father would buy him a seat in a medical college or an engineering college by paying a hefty capitation fee. Money can buy anything. His father would have bought him success in his exams too, if he had asked for it.
But how can his father even come to the school? Especially after what happened yesterday?
A woman had gone to court accusing Nakul Kulapati of having raped her. She had met Nakul in a party and the two became friends. Like a chemical bonding. Sodium atoms and chlorine atoms bonded together and were drowned in salty sweat.
Nakul Kulapati could not fulfil the woman’s dream, however. She wanted a party ticket in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Father must have tried his best, Arjun knew. His father never betrayed his clients. Anyone who paid him money was his client. Payment need not always be in cash, he had heard his father say once.
Party tickets are extremely costly things. Their prices run into crores. Chemical bonds don’t cost crores. Even Sreesanth could not amass crores through spot fixing of matches. Crores belong in the realm of politics.
Arjun threw his bag over the wall of the school campus, far away from the main gate. Then he threw his body over the wall. He was a good sportsman and the only son of a leading politician. Walls are no stumbling blocks to him.
The woman betrayed his father. That’s what really worried Arjun. She recorded their bonding and gave the CD to the police as evidence. And the CD leaked out into the market of sleaze. His friends got a copy from the underground shopping complex in the city.
Even the son of a politician cannot absorb that kind of ignominy. Even if he is a sportsman. Arjun could not focus on his books. Lurid pictures popped up from the books. His friends were leering at those pictures.
Sodium and chlorine atoms bond together to become sodium chloride, he remembered his chemistry lesson. Sodium chloride has the properties of neither sodium nor chlorine. It has “emergent properties.” He remembered his teacher saying that life is about acquiring emergent properties. Problems in life are manifestations of life asserting itself against the powers of external control.
Life. Very curious, thought Arjun. He had everything that a class 11 student would need. More than that, of course. Much more. Could less have been better? His father made sure that he never lacked anything which money could buy. His school gave him marks generously for all that he did and even intended to do, thanks to CCE. Probably he will even pass the annual exam with a little assistance in the exam hall from liberal invigilators.
So what was his problem?
He was not sure. The only thing he was sure of was that the ATM card in his bag could keep him going places. And he had decided to go places.
Note: This is work of fiction and the characters are imaginary with one obvious exception. The story was inspired by what happened to an MLA in Kerala recently. But the MLA is too old to have a son studying in class 11.