The Case of Leaked Question Papers – Part 3

by Sahadev Komaragiri

Crying“Paramesh, I am sure you know what we are looking for. Don’t you?”, I asked. Paramesh is a smart boy and it is difficult to not like him. One day I saw him bowl in a friendly match between 9th and 10th boys. I was impressed by the pace and the line and length of his bowling. I requested the boys to allow me to bat for a few minutes. They were happy to grab an opportunity to assess my batting skills. I managed to bat without getting out and even drove out a couple of balls to the boundary line making full use of the pace in his bowling. He was very happy to get me beaten more than once. I encouraged him to bowl well and gave him some tips as and when I could. We both know that we have some bonding between us that is more than just a student-teacher relationship.

This is a five part short story. Links to the other parts: Part 1  Part 2  Part 4  Part 5

John and I agreed that I will talk and he will intervene only if there is a need. I did not have to discuss much about who wrote it. What he said caught me totally off guard. “Sir, Kanth gave me the question papers and asked me to write down the questions in a book and I simply complied”. I was silent for a minute and tried to understand what transpired. It was Kanth who leaked the information to us about the leaked question papers. One of them was lying! It was time to summon Kanth. We now have two students in our room. We did not want to tell Kanth what Paramesh told us. I simply asked him to tell us about the book and its contents. He put on a sad face and claimed all innocence. On further questioning he started crying out loud saying “this is why we don’t like to speak the truth, when we speak truth and tell you everything that is going wrong, you don’t believe us”. I was able to appreciate his thoughts on the topic, but I knew the boy too well to not get carried away by his logic.

TalkingKidKanth is a very boisterous kid. There is not a question for which he did not have a nasty answer with some convoluted logic in a very funny way. I noticed it as his English teacher. Other teachers had pretty much the same opinion. Sometimes he can speak very convincingly on a range of topics. He was extremely good at acting and dancing. He can organize skits at a moment’s notice and assemble a team to enact it. He can work out new dancing steps with ease and design various kinds of pyramid formations. He was my first choice for lead roles in dramas and dance programmes. Even he knew that this relationship between us is about to crumble.

John started his well known technique of questioning children in groups and then individually one by one. He just had to tally their answers and tactfully articulate a few lies himself in order to make the children cough out the truth. He questioned Kanth first and later Paramesh, the answers were not tallying for obvious reasons and he was getting increasingly impatient. We asked the boys to wait outside and we discussed a little bit about our next steps. He asked both the boys to come back and in their presence he summoned the office boy and asked him to get a cane from the staff room. He confessed to the boys that his patience was running out and what he could not accomplish, he surmised, the cane could.

The school receives its question papers for the entire academic year from a publisher. All the papers are stored in thick covers that are well sealed. These sealed envelopes are locked up in a Godrej almirah, the key to which was with the principal and a copy of the key with the correspondent of the school. The papers are usually opened a day or two before the exam in the presence of the principal and a few senior staff members that included myself and John. It was very disturbing to note, to say the least, that these question papers were out a full two weeks ahead of the tests. Some extreme measures were necessary.

ManWithStickFear demands higher morals from all beings and it usually gets it due. The boys did not see a point in escalating the matter any further. Kanth and Paramesh agreed with each other that the question papers were indeed obtained by Kanth and Paramesh was supposed to compile them in a notebook. The question papers were supposed to be sent back to their original location, to their respective envelopes in the Godrej almirah. We interrupted what was supposed to be a clean operation. Kanth’s innocence turned out to be a myth. His claims about not being able to secure high rank because other students knew about questions before hand is also pitifully shallow and shameful.

We did not have to ask about how they got the question papers; it was volunteered. Using some emotional line, we asked them whether these acts were morally justifiable. Just when we thought that this discussion about morals was going nowhere, Paramesh dropped the big bomb! He said, “Sir, we would not have done any of this if the tenth boys did not give us these question papers in the first place”.

The boys started feeling comfortable as the blame was now assuming a tectonic shift. They were too happy to spill the beans.

The investigation lasted over an hour and half so far and it had its own twists and turns. It was past 7 pm in the evening. We knew that we were not dealing with just two errant boys, but we did not think we were about to stir the proverbial hornets’ nest. We were determined not to leave for our homes until we cracked the case.

But you don’t have to wait. Here is Part 4.

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