Before You Read
This story is confronting but it happens and we need to be aware of the dangers our children face in the world as it is today. The reality however is much more tragic than this story will reveal. Parents have a difficult job ensuring their children are safe as they progress through life to adulthood and have the capacity to discern danger for themselves.
Shalini sat on a bench in the park a few blocks from her home contemplating her frightening experience at school. If only she could turn back the clock and have the day over again. She’d gotten herself into a real mess and didn’t know how to get out of the situation safely. She couldn’t discuss it with her parents or siblings as she’d get into even more trouble. She had close friends at school, but she couldn’t discuss it with them either. News like this would be too good not to share with the other kids and it would eventually reach parents and obviously her parents would be the last to know. She feared what would be done to her when that happened. Perhaps she could lodge a police complaint? Then the story would eventually become public and that would be even worse for her and her family.
In the distance she could see some of the kids from school playing a ball game together in the park with girls cheering them on. They’d asked her to join them as she usually did but she needed to think and be out of company for a while. She couldn’t conceal her stress today and they’d be constantly prodding her to find out what was wrong. She was always the life of the party and they’d already noticed there was something bothering her and become curious. She’d have to face this alone and hoped it wouldn’t destroy her life.
The day seemed to have started well. There was the usual banter in class before teacher Raj Sir appeared and the mathematics class he took was interesting. He had the last class for the day so as soon as the bell rang there would be an explosion as students stampeded for the door to enjoy their afterschool activities. Shalini had joined them in their stampede for the door then had ground to a halt hearing her name called loudly. She headed for teacher’s desk uncertainly.
“Give me your bag Shalini, I need to check something!” Shalini handed it over and stood back uncertainly but respectfully.
Raj Sir picked up his smart phone and focused on the bag, so her name tag was clearly seen then took a photo. He opened the bag and reached inside pulling out a small plastic bag with a powder inside placing it beside the bag with name tag clearly visible and photographed again.
“Shalini I want you to tell me what this plastic bag is and what that powder is inside. There’ve been reports someone is pushing drugs on students and I’ve been asked to be alert when I see anything suspicious going on. I think you’re in trouble young lady, so this may have to go to administration after this powder has been analysed.”
Shalini went weak at the knees. She’d heard there was a drug problem in school but would never be involved in such things. Her parents were very strict and had warned her never to get into any trouble as it would affect her marriage proposals in future.
Sir that’s not mine. I don’t know where the powder came from, but I don’t do drugs and haven’t seen it before please believe me Sir. I’d be in awful trouble at home if you send this report to school administration because I’m innocent.” Shalini fell at his feet and touched them in desperation.
Raj Sir pulled her to her feet. “We’ll see about that Shalini. It all depends on how cooperative you are. Now I need to check and see if you have any other drugs on your person. I’m holding this bag and the drugs, and you’ll come to my office while I do a further examination.”
He strode to the office with Shalini walking behind shaking and confused. She’d never use drugs and was puzzled how this had been found in her bag. When they were in the office he shut and locked the door.
Shalini I know your father works for the Chief Minister doesn’t he?”
“Well the Chief Minister’s close friend the Police Commissioner happens to be my father. But you knew that didn’t you?”
“It would be sad if your father lost his job over your foolishness wouldn’t it?
“Yes Sir, it would destroy my family, please let me go and don’t report this because I’m innocent. I really don’t know how those drugs got into my bag but please let me go and don’t report me.
“Well that remains to be seen, I’d really like to help you as you’re a good student, but you need to be cooperative. Now wrap this cloth around you and remove your clothes and put them on my table as I have to check them and see there are no more drugs on your person.”
“No Sir, I can’t do that it would be wrong, my parents taught me to be a decent girl so I can’t take my clothes off in front of a man even to wrap this cloth around me.” She began to sob.
“I’m sorry you’re not cooperating Shalini and will be sad when you’re expelled from school because I have to assume your hiding more on you and will report this. You can go now. I hope this doesn’t affect your father’s job.” Raj Sir put on a sad face shaking his head.
He moved to the door to unlock it. “You can go, but I have to confiscate your bag and the powder to show to administration. I was almost willing to let you go without reporting you, but you are very uncooperative.”
Shalini fell at his feet and held them imploringly. “Raj Sir I’ll do anything you say but please don’t report this it will ruin my family. Please Sir! Call Teacher Rani to check so I don’t have to be shamed in front of you.”
Raj Sir paused and picked her up. “Good, now you’re talking sense, I can’t call teacher Rani as it will definitely become an administration case if I bring one more person in here. I was thinking of saving you from embarrassment and I can assure you I’m not going to touch you. Shall I unlock the door and we can leave it to administration to decide tomorrow?”
“No Sir!” Shalini was shaking violently now.
Teacher Raj shrugged and went back to his seat. “OK remove your clothes after wrapping the cloth around your body and we’ll finish this quickly. I just want proof you are not concealing anything on your body. If you aren’t you can take your bag and go. I will not bother to check this powder and will destroy it.”
Shalini cried as she removed her clothes piece by piece putting them on the table. She stood there with her hands desperately trying to cover herself with the cloth.
Raj Sir took out a fake machine and held it over her clothing piece by piece while Shalini watched and shook with fear. He remembered the instructions he’d received this morning specifying the syndicate was interested in recruiting this specific girl because of her family connections. He was to pressure her into submission but not to the point where she’d feel it safer to risk telling her parents. If he failed the syndicate would deal harshly with him.
“Hmm, this machine tells me you have drugs hidden on your body Shalini. It is your choice. You can remove the cloth and let me inspect or face school administration tomorrow morning when you come to school. I’m not going to touch you so don’t be frightened.”
Shalini cried silently as she removed the cloth and shut her eyes.
Raj Sir picked up his cell phone and photographed her several times from different angles. “OK. I’m convinced you don’t have anything else on you, so I’ll let you off with a caution not to mess with drugs in this school. You can get dressed now and leave, but tomorrow afternoon after school you’ll come to my office and we’ll discuss who else has drugs at school and if you don’t cooperate I may have to reconsider reporting you for what I found. I have photos to back it up now. So, tomorrow afternoon at my office after school. Understand?”
“Yes Sir and thank you Sir.” Shalini bent down to touch his feet in gratitude. “I don’t know anyone who does drugs though I’ve heard they’re available but will try and find out Sir and I’ll come tomorrow afternoon.”
To be continued.
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