Readers Write In #408: A story of a 90’s kid

Posted on September 21, 2021


(by Deepika Santhanakrishnan)

During 2005, there lived a little girl doing class X by the name Deepika in St. Stephen’s School in Trichy. To describe this character, we have to travel back in time. She was the happiest of all kids who attended the first day in school. She gave out the loudest cry when her Tamil teacher scolded her for having written a rendu-suzhi na instead of a moonu-suzhi na. Even though these incidents happened at a tender age, she remembered them to date. Part of the reasonswere because of a couple of incidents.

One, her classmate swapped a half refill into her pen and stole her full refill instead. This is especially when Deepika had an unknown love for pens and pencils. And two, the same girl who stole her refill, was in ‘love’ with their most-handsome classmate boy. At first, when Deepika was told that they were both in love, she quite didn’t understand how six-year-olds could do nasty things – like ‘loving.’She firmly believed that ‘loving’ is meant for twenty-plus-olds. And two, the girl involved in this ‘nasty act’ being the one who stole her refill, she concluded that people who do old-people-acts are nastier.

Having this as a background to our self-proclaimed-thoughtful character of this story, we now fast-forward to when she was fourteen years old. She finished class IX. Every girlfriend of Deepika was cajoling her to skip the summer classes and to go to the movies instead. However, Deepika didn’t do so, as her parents explained how doing class X is the most important thing to get into the best school in Trichy for class XI. Deepika being dutiful as she always is, started taking her summer classes seriously.

Two months passed by, and children who bunked those classes found it very difficult to catch up with the few who attended the summer coaching. What Deepika was expecting seeing all this, was that the teachers would appoint her as a tutor-in-charge to teach the children who bunked classes. But what happened instead was a call for a private meeting with the teachers. She went.

Rosy Miss,along with few other teachers,told her that the school headmaster had come to know of a situation where few students are found to be involved in ‘love’, and that the headmaster thinks it may hamper their studies. So, they had devised a plan to allocate a spy, which should ensure that such instances should be reported to the headmaster via the teachers to maintain the school’s intellectual integrity. As one might guess, Deepika immediately undertook the job, abiding by the general rule that no student should know that she was the spy.

That day, on the way back from school, Deepika had a moment of introspection where she thought that being a spy may hamper her studies. But she thoroughly felt the urge to stop nastiness happening, that too in an intellectually integral place.

Day 1, she saw two classmates behind the PT room. She ran to Rosy Miss to report the incident.

Day 2, she ran to Rosy Miss to report another incident.

Day 3, she studied hard to make up for the lost days of studies.

Day 7, she again reported to Rosy Miss.

Day 21, she sensed a smell of animosity amongst friends.

“Oh, did they guess I am the spy?” thought Deepika. She was maintaining silence with the utmost sense of thought to know what the issue with the friends was. It had happened that they were curious to know whether Deepika got the first mark in Geography because of being a sycophant to Miss. Rosy.

“No” yelled Deepikaat the top of her voice. “I studied hard”felt she. And in any case, she liked Geography more than any other subject, and the marks were a reflection of the same.

Few days passed. Half-yearly exams got over. And Deepika got the highest mark one could ever get in a Geography paper. She managed it, even while maintaining School’s intellectual integrity. But she was the only one who felt so. Others thought it to be Rosy Miss’sspecial privilege forDeepika.

Sense of heterogenization prevailed – between Deepika, being a sycophant on one side, and friends feeling cheated on the other. That day, even amidst being slotted alone, Deepika felt a sense of achievement, not about doing well in academics but in maintaining justice inside School’s premises.

One fine day, on her way to meet Rosy Miss in the staff room, Deepika overheard Rosy Miss advising one of her classmates she reported about the day before, and voila! What job satisfaction it was!

First Revision exams got over. It was Chemistry practical exam the next day. Deepika had doubts,though she couldn’t ask anyone. She got Ferrous Sulphate salt for identification experiment. She knew it, seeing the color of the salt at first sight. But she couldn’t do one of the tests.

As it happened, everyone got 30 on 30 in the practicals, except Deepika, who got 29.Shattered as she was, nevertheless, she compensated for it by scoring a new high in Geography.

Board exams were scheduled. All the class lectures got over. There were last-minute discussions of important board exam questions along with blueprints. One by one, each subject’s discussion took place by the respective teachers. It was the Chemistry teacher’s turn that day. Ananthi Miss was explaining the common pitfalls faced by students in board exams. She was discussing compounds when she uttered these words – “This ensures that the chemical compound is Ferrous Sulphate… Enna, Deepika!”. And gosh, the whole class went into a burst of laughter!

She felt a sharp sense of humiliation –thatshe couldn’t get 30 on the practicals. And imagine the whole class being against her! For what?? Her good intentions! She cried terribly, all alone…


Exams got over; results were out. Deepika got the third rank in the board results, maintaining her first in Geography. More than she, her parents were happy. She managed to get into a good school for class XI. She concentrated wholly on studies, and hence, got into the best college in town. She finished Engineering, managed to get into an Economics institute for PG. She rocked it there as well. It was the semester holidays, when she visited her hometown in 2016.

She goes to Uchi Pillaiyar Kovil with her family. It was a tough climb on a rainy day. The last breath almost whiffed when they reached the sannathi. It is at this moment; someone yells Ferrous Sulphate from behind! Damn! Within a moment, she knew it was someone from the Stephen’s. She ignored it at first. Moved a step forward. Voice uttered the words again.

“Oh, goddamn it, I am going to face it today! Let me take on this yelling guy.”

She approached him while recognizing he was Anil.

He looked way more mature than how he was a decade ago and definitely better than her.

He was with his college buddies. That’s when she said, “How dare you!”

Said he, “Oh, c’mon Deepika, do you know why you were called Ferrous Sulphate?”

“Of course, I know! I was the school spy, doing good for you all, which you guys thought to be against your well-being! Listen, mark my words today,…”

Every one of his buddies, including Anil laughed hard!


“C’mon, Deepika, grow up!”

She did not understand it.

A moment of silence inside her.

“Wake up, Deepika, you were called Ferrous Sulphate because…”

Silence in her.

Silence in the whole sannathi.

“Namma class la Feroz nu oru payan irunthanla?”

“Okay?? So?”

“Avanuku un mela oru kannu”, they all laughed.

“Ennnnathu!”, Deepika felt a sense of shock.

She continued, “Aama, intha matter enake theriyathey da, Ananthi Miss ku epdi therinjuthu?”

“Hahahahahahahaha!, nee ooruke spy vela pathela?”

He continued, “Unaku oruthan spy vela paathan!”, while rolling on the floor laughing.

“Ennathuuuuu!! Enaku oruthan spy vela paathana!!!”

She uttered, “Aamam, yaaru da athu??”, feeling a sense of annoyance.

“Vera yaarum illa, Deepika!”, he continues to laugh…

“Athu Feroz than!”