This story is by sarfraz and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I remember on a wet Saturday 7 A.M. slept on a floor mattress, my head rested on a velvety pink pillow. My gaze halted towards the pale grey clouds of Tehran.
The day brought a sudden emptiness in the mind and heart, just like a scoop of an ice cream melts through the edge of a cone. I withdrew my contempt face from the stained window glass of a raindrop, towards the crimson wall of a room cluttered with books and the frames of scenic lush gardens of Tehran.
My aunt’s steps towards my room created the feeling of uneasiness in me. The bangles in her wrist rhymed and swayed, interrupted my sleep. She stood with her hand on her waist – the early morning voice like a Soprano played into my ears.
“Saf! Wake up! Don’t you want to appear for the exam?” She said tautly.
I huddled myself under the warm blanket again. My mind filled with the God’s creation theory. I wish I could also fly like a bird, or wish I were a non-living thing. I told to my self how lucky birds are – they can fly up above the clouds and reach far away, from the narrowed eyes.
I kept asking under my breath, “How to escape away from my exams and the torture of my aunt?”
This time the voice came in higher pitch. “Saf, C’mon wake up now!”
She pulled off my blanket and stood in her pink nightdress. I turned on my back gazed at her in squinted eyes. She looked taller than 5’2”. I rolled around on my stomach, my arm in the push up position and raised myself slowly. I walked in a disoriented manner towards the brown wooden study table, and got hold of my spectacle. Her hazel-brown eyes widened, upper eyelids raised and stared at me sounded like a final alarm, I dashed off to the bathroom. Her round face appeared rounder with her hair knot. She closed the door behind me and left the room.
I pondered to my wardrobe, dressed up in a blue trouser and a white shirt school uniform, which I admired a lot. I stood in front of wardrobe mirror and thought to myself I wish I could alter the white shirt with more artistic buffalo horn buttons rather than its usual plastic, laced it with red collar color.
“Wouldn’t I look more elegant and presentable. I grinned on myself.”
“Are you ready for your school,” Aunt’s disembodied voice came aloud from the kitchen.
“Looking all around especially the books. “Yes! Ready,” I said.
I left the room with a lurch of fear and anxiety dwindled in my heart. And the prayers played louder under my breath.
My aunt in the kitchen cracked the omelet in a bowl and whisked, and poured in a frying pan. Outside the window, the drizzle of a morning spattered against a window glass. My mood remained somber.
I pranced around the kitchen. Took a toast and sandwiched it with a layer of omelet. I swallowed my red tea in one gulp. Sandwich in my hand pulled the shoes from a shoe rack.
I said, “Bye.”
My aunt replied, “Best Of Luck.”
My heart breathing bursting in and out, “May God help me.”
The examination hall appeared like army of student. I felt that they all are turning to be a doctor tomorrow.
The exam paper appeared in front of me. It looked as if all the questions were from a different study material. I had never come across such questions in my revision.
“Maybe I must have missed the important lesson.” Did I? Did they give me senior class question papers?
I stared deeply again on the first page, highlighted in black- 7th class biology paper.
Early in the afternoon the bell rang finally my three hours of ordeal, at the exam hall wrapped up. I felt relaxed. Though the sustained thoughts of concerns scurried in my head.
I anxiously wandered on foot towards my house only fifteen minutes away from the streets of my school. I reached home and sat across the TV to watch my favorite David Copperfield series. The series energized me internally also the sullen memory of my exam erased temporarily.
While my aunt knitted her dress on the machine, She asked,
“How did your exam paper turned out?”
I replied confidently, “The questions were simple, so I managed to answer almost all.”
As her foot pressed on the paddle of the machine, the sound subdued my voice.
After each day passed, my relaxed mind, intercepted with the date of the exam results. I prayed that somehow the magic will happen and I will pass with the flying colors.
Finally, the least waited day of my life turned up. Even then also the dark clouds covered the sun, just like my trial of melancholic emotional thoughts.
The teacher brought the stack of the paper in the classroom. My thoughts gyrating, and I wished my paper had washed away in the rain.
The teacher called in the roll number order wise.
I thought to myself same like roll number my marks will turn up as an unlucky number.
I stepped towards the teacher and wondering within myself if a miracle has taken place.
The results worked up the sweat around the face. I sat hunched and dejected at the last bench.
My results just like the clouds without any hopes. The first monstrous thought that appeared in my mind after seeing the results, how do I change it around?
In the mid school break hour I slipped to the near-by shop and bought the same red ink pen to alter the marks. In the afternoon I changed the marks and made it higher by eighty percent. The final marks on the sheets where I didn’t have to alter much just had to turn the marks from 33 to 83.
I came home with a happy face. I looked at my aunt in a smiling face in the hallway.
Lucky enough she only glanced at the answer sheet, while knitting her dress on the old hand-machine
Aunt said, “Glad you passed your exam.”
As the afternoon wore on, I prepared a coffee and grabbed some toast. My favorite series of David Copperfield about to appear and all set and ready to enjoy my fun time.
My aunt came to my room and sat next to me on the velvet sofa.
Hello! Saf, “How are you today?” She asked.
I said in a wry smile, “I am ok?”
She asked, “Can you bring your answer sheet papers?”
I said, of course, with a hesitating nod. My stomach churned and perspiration appeared on my forehead. I rubbed the forehead with my wrist to avoid getting noticed further.
My face gave away but tried to avoid an eye contact. Handed her the answer sheet papers. She leisurely went through it and scanned through the answers and the marks around each answers. My eyes were eyeing on her round face, her dark red lipstick signaled to my inner mind the day would be darker than the clouds of the morning. She went through the paper, this time in detail.
She asked, “How could your teacher give you full marks for the below question?”
“Explain the chromosome in detail?”
“I answered in my answer paper; Chromosomes are the birds which fly in the night and takes rest in the mornings.”
My aunt sighed heavily, “How on earth is this possible for the crap answer you scored full marks.”
She switched the TV off and flung the control away on the round glass table missing my yellow tea mug.
She asked me, “Can you elaborate what is chromosome?”
To my knowledge still I had no clue.
I answered,” It’s a kind of flower.”
She said, “I think your teacher did injustice with you. You deserved more than what you scored.”
My aunt looked in a clenched jaw and asked, “Did you alter the marks?”
In my wavered voice, “No!”
In her wild appearance she stood up from the sofa, “Alright! Tomorrow I will come to your school and will discuss with your teacher on the marking standard.”
My body sweated in a rigid posture. Talking to myself under the breath, if my aunt meets my teacher, I may be barred from the school for six months. All the worries started cascading in my head.
I declared with seeking reassurance to avoid her going to my school.
I stuttered and tremors in my voice, “Yes! I altered the marks.”
She stepped up next to me and pinched me softly but hard enough to have the effects on the next day.
Next day, I touched and it ached and never thought to myself it will turn into a dark green scar.
The scar on my lap, green as ever.