One of the country's best schools was in an uproar. The principal had called an emergency meeting. This was a school that didn't have a canteen and disallowed even cold drinks on its premises, and a beer bottle had been found on a Class-7 boy.
All the teachers gaped at the colleague who had caught the forbidden item, as if it was her fault. She had least expected the hullabaloo, but the die was cast and here she was, narrating the sequence of events to associates.
Being Children's Day, students had been given permission to bring junk food as part of tiffin. Kids being kids could not resist sneaking in aerated drinks, and teachers being smart, confiscated all the bottles they could find. The over-vigilant Class-7 teacher had searched each student individually to come out with the shocking object.
The situation now was delicate and handling it was the question. Once more, everyone turned to the teacher. "I think we should give the boy a chance to explain," she said, thoughtfully. Everyone agreed and looked at her again, expecting she would call out "her ward". "I think the child will be confused and terrified facing so many teachers. If only one or two were present, it'd be better," she said. So it was left to the vice-principal, junior wing headmistress, and the class teacher to do the questioning.
The culprit was walked in and told to explain. "Explain?" he said, perplexed. "What do you think you were going to drink? Milk?" said the class teacher, getting sarcastic. "Oh!" said the quick-thinking boy, "That is kiwi juice."
"So this is your story?" asked the teacher. "Indeed ma'am. I can drink it to prove it." "I know you would love to," said the vice-principal, "and then there will be no proof." "Ma'am," he said, taking courage from the junior school headmistress, "you are welcome to taste it." It seemed a good idea but the she didn't want to be at the receiving end of jokes for being fooled into drinking beer in school, so one of the men on the staff was called over.
Happy to oblige, he asked the student in jest: "How much can I drink?" The child was quiet. A bottle opener was brought; the showboating teacher popped the cork, and took a large swallow. "Good. Very good," he said, ecstatically. "Homemade, Sir," said the brave heart. "Hmm… homegrown kiwis, too?" "Yes, Sir." "From which place?" "Manali, Sir" "Good, good," said the teacher and sidled off.
"But what was it?" the woman teachers cried. "What?" the colleague said, turning back, "Of course, kiwi juice."
Later in the day, the entire Class 7, taking advantage of the fact that the class teacher was away, was seen gulping down two two-litre bottles of Mountain Dew. It seemed one child had been smart enough to bring three bottles, and after one was confiscated, he had brought out the other two. The children had a party. firstname.lastname@example.org
(The writer is a financial and management expert based in Chandigarh)