Next day Pakhi went to Mrs. Singh and told her what she had done and stood with a bowed head. Initially Mrs. Singh did get angry but then it turned to admiration for the girl who could come forward and admit her mistake. “My dear girl, what you did was wrong but it is good that you admitted it. Never repeat this mistake. Revise daily what we have taught you at school and attempt the tests on your own. For now lets keep this a secret between you and me. I won’t check your test paper but some day I will give you a surprise test. Now off you go to your class” she said. And off Pakhi went with a big smile on her face.
It was a Thursday morning and the first class was science. Mrs. Singh came in and announced that there will be a surprise test and all the kids started murmuring ‘No, Miss’, ‘Please Miss’. ‘Nothing doing, class, I want to see how much you have understood and how much revision you do at home. So please keep quiet and start your test’.
Now Pakhi did not like science. And tests scared her. She often forgot what she had learnt by the mere mention of the word ‘Test’. So as soon as the test was announced she started perspiring.
The test was not that bad, she knew the answers to some questions, so she started to write down. But at that moment she saw Abhishek take out his notebook very quietly and copying answers. Pakhi was tempted. The image of her getting full marks in a surprise test and being praised lured her. And she too followed Abhishek’s path.
But she felt uncomfortable. She knew she had done wrong, but so what, at least she would get good marks.
Mrs. Bhogoliwal their Hindi teacher was on leave that day. So Principal madam took that class. All the kids just loved Principal Madam’s class. She would tell them nice stories. That day she again told Harishchandra’s story about following dharma and speaking the truth. She also cited Buddha and the eldest pandava–Yudhisthir. How he stood firm on the right path. ‘Children as you grow up you will always find two paths for any decision you have to take. The easy one and the difficult one. The easy one may give you name, fame and money easily but it may not be the right path. You may have to cheat someone or in some ways be wrong to the society. The right path is usually difficult. You may not achieve success in the beginning but you should keep on striving. The success which you gain by following the right path will always stay with you. Like Harishchandra who faces a lot of difficulties but holds fast on to the path he has chosen. In the process he loses his son and his wife is sold as a maid. But still he strives on and in the end he regains everything he had lost.’
Now this was all a bit hard for the 10-11 year olds to understand but Pakhi understood. A little at least. She understood that by copying she might get good marks but in actuality she had not learnt anything. A test is given to see what a student has understood. And she felt ashamed of herself. She felt that she had failed her teachers and parents.
At home she was silent. She felt a peculiar knot in the stomach. Until finally she went into the kitchen to speak with mummy. When Aanchal was told this dilemma she felt nervous, how does one guide one’s own child on a moral issue? If only Rahul was here but he was way on a tour. “What Madam said is true dear. See you have copied in your exam, which was the easy way and you may be praised for getting good marks but was it correct? No. A test is given to check whether you have understood the subject. So what if you had attempted the test on your ability, got less marks, get scolded, but you could have revised the portions again. If you had not understood then you could have asked me or the teacher and we could have helped you. So what you did was wrong”. “So how do I correct it, Mummy “, asked Pakhi. “Go to your teacher and tell what you have done. She may scold you but what you have done is wrong so you will have to hear it out.”