The sky was bright. It promised a hot day. The students gathered in the school courtyard for the morning assembly. The Morning Prayer and the National Anthem were sung. The assembly speakers were in the front and Dorji could see the fringes of their gho and kira shiver. He remembered how he was nervous before his speech. The paper he wrote his speech on was fluttering like a fragile autumn leaf in the wind when he held it in his hands.
It was a Monday. So, usually on Mondays the assembly was held by the Principal. However, on that faithful Monday, the Principal was out of station. In his place the vice-principal took the platform next to the speakers. The English speaker spoke on, “Why we (students) shouldn’t bring mobile phones to the school?” When the speakers finished their speeches, VP thanked them and stressed on “Mobile Phones in the school”.
He reminded everyone what will happen if they brought their mobile phones to the school. The mobile phone will be seized and the offender will write a statement which will go into his/her personal file. Their character certificates will then be ruined.
Dorji was giggling to himself thinking about how his English teacher made fun of the VP because he would say “B-Mobile” is not allowed in the school as if the “Tashi cell” was allowed. The VP was a Dzongkha language teacher, it seemed like he didn’t care or he didn’t know the difference between B-Mobile and mobile phone.
The Vice principal went on reminding what will happen if a student was caught with mobile phone in the school, Dorji thought about his phone. It was a gift from his mother on his 16th birthday. But he could not remember when he last held it.
All of a sudden the realization dawned on him. His phone was in his bag, in the classroom.
On Sunday Dorji had to come to school to practice a dance for the Inter House Cultural Show. The school allowed day scholars to bring their phones to play music on such occasions as the school couldn’t provide music sets for all the practicing groups. When Dorji reached home after the practice, he watched football, had his dinner and went to sleep, forgetting to take out his phone from his bag.
Like the speakers before, it I was now Dorji who was shivering. The assembly never seemed to end. The most straining part was the breathing exercise when every one remained silent, concentrating on their breathing for 5 minutes. To make things worst, Dorji’s class was right behind the vice - principal. Any call at that movement would have been loud and clear like a siren. Dorji cursed himself, his absent-mindedness. How careless he had been. Even a message alert would have revealed his phone because it was a song. And the reason why he brought his phone the previous day was because his phone didn’t need speakers. It could play very loud music. Dorji started crackling his knuckles. His ears felt hot. He could not hold still. Every muscle in his body wanted to run to his class.
Finally when the assembly was about to end their was another announcement from the VP, all the class 12 boys were asked to stay back as their was a briefing on role modeling for the senior boys.
Dorji didn’t know how the briefing finished as his mind pondered incessantly on his situation. After the briefing, Dorji rushed to his class but the teacher for the 1st period was already in the class. He thought he could slide his hand inside his bag and switch off his phone but then he also knew that the phone will not go off silently. He thought about sliding the phone up his gho’s sleeves and asking for permission to go to the toilet but this particular teacher was dead against students going out to the toilet during class. He didn’t know what to do? He had to ask, he had to lie to the teacher. Tell him that he was suffering from diarrhea. But just telling him would not work, Dorji know that. He would have to act, his face would have to muster all the painful expression in him to show that he was really straining to suppress the pressure he felt.
The teacher, like always seemed irritated because he was interrupted in his lesson. But may be Dorji’s acting was good, so, he told him to come back quickly.
Dorji, felt a little relief when he got outside the class, but lost no time. He ran to the toilet. Hopping three steps at a time until he reached the toilet.
When he got inside, he took out his phone. He was breathing heavily. His face felt hot. The phone, his most prized possession, he took it out. As he pressed the switch off button, he covered the speaker with his palm, just in case, any teacher or a counselor was around. But the phone didn’t make any sound. Dorji took a proper look at his phone.
He could not believe his situation. The phone was already switched off. The battery must have died in the night because of the continuous music playing in the day.
Dorji smiled to himself and sighed.