The sweet smell of ‘pav bhaji’ filled our noses to no avail. No mouth-watering. No fights over the quantity of food. Just four expressionless kids with sullen faces, sitting in a circle. On another day the food would have been long gone, devoured by the said children like a pack of wild dogs who finally spotted prey after chevying footprints of animals throughout the grasslands. But not today, our arid countenances indicated otherwise. The cause of said faces was an announcement made by our class teacher a few minutes prior where she said that our marks-cards would be going to our parents 2 weeks earlier than expected. Now for the studious and prissy pupils that was all well and good, but for us, it was a sheer cataclysm. Hence, Rahul was not treating us to his renditions of Hindi music and two others friends of ours, Adoksh Dutta and Karan Shetty found themselves sitting in a melancholy mood beside me. “We need to do something about this!” Adoksh said which was met by grunts which indicated concurrence of thought, “But what, is the question”, he added. “We cannot do anything, all the marks-card data will be in the admin room!” I interjected, creating a silence and therefore room for individual ponderance which involved some deep-tissue massage to the temples. “I have a dreary song which is perfect for this situatuon, I can sing it to boost our morale”, Rahul announced and was almost immediately met with a strong no from the rest of us in unison. Cue the silence again. “I’ve got it!” Adoksh made known to the rest of us, “We will sneak into the admin room in the last period -” He attempted adding, but was interrupted by Karan who continued the plan, “And I can hack into the systems and delete all the data and delay the sending of the results, I’ve been telling you all that I’m great at hacking!” The rest of us relunctantly agreed albeit Adoksh was visibly disgruntled at being cut short. Adoksh was in essence the criminal mastermind, he made all our nonsensical plans and Karan was the self-proclaimed IT guy, everyday, we and any other people who had the misfortune to be near him, heard boastful stories of his proficiency at programming and hacking, although we had never seen him do anything in front of us. Our mood picked up massively and we went back to our old routine, gobbling up the now cold yet delicious ‘pav bhaji’, desperate for the bell to inform us on the commencement of the final period. 

The bell tolled indicating the start of the last period. We had chosen this time as all of the admin staff took a 10 minute break, leaving the room unguarded. The room was on the second floor of the senior school building, about a stones throw from our classroom. We each had our duties appointed to us by Adoksh; Rahul was on watch and would use his vocal range to inform us of any person nearing the room, Karan was in charge of getting and deleting the marks information and Adoksh and I would aid in whatever way required. Gingerly, we made our way to the location and sadly for us, Rahul was in character and began humming the ‘Pink Panther’ tune loudly whilst tip-toeing, making for a very suspicious gait which was greatly hampering the inconspicuous atmosphere the rest of us were trying to create. Upon receiving bloodcurdling stares from Adoksh and I, Rahul assumed a quiet and appropriate amble. The short distance between the admin room and classroom was covered briskly by us and we took our due positions, with Rahul outside and Adoksh, Karan and I inside. The room was not very large, and could often be identified by the mess of wires along its walls which garnished the multitude of computer monitors in the room. The computers were meticulously arranged in parallel lines, with each being accompanied by a chair. However, indirectly assisting our task, there was a main computer that was being used to link all the other computers in the system, and Karan got to work on said computer. We heard him furiously typing away at the keyboard and interpreted that he must be doing well and was progressing at a decent pace. “Aaaaaoooo” echoed in the room, it’s source was outside and hastily Adoksh and I progressed to it, urging Karan to hurry up, wondering if Rahul was trying to alert us of an imminent threat. Upon arriving at the door, we questioned Rahul regarding the babel to which he replied, “Oh! I was just doing my throat warm ups so that if I have to warn you, I can do it melodiously”. Following the massive telling off that Adoksh gave Rahul, I relieved Rahul of his duties and Adoksh was kept on the lookout. My gaze fell on Karan who continued his furious typing, almost done now, I thought to myself. Rahul, having been told that if he sang a single word, he would be thrown off the railing, sat sulking in the corner. All was going fairly well, at a good pace and I managed a slight smile at the progress we were making. Adoksh was very quiet and gave me a ‘thumbs-up’ sign through the door which I promptly returned. The typing sounds went on and on, leaving me to wonder about Karan’s progress. “I need help! I have only previously worked on a 4-digit passcode; this computer employs a 6-digit passcode and I’ve tried most combinations! I can’t seem to crack the code”, Karan declared to the rest of us, and although his statement cleared my doubts, the statement morphed them into pure worry. “But don’t worry, my genius has found the perfect solution! Akash and Rahul, go wait outside”, ordered Karan, which we nervously followed, unsure of what he was about to do. We cautiously went outside to Adoksh and after what seemed like an eternity but in reality was only 1 or 2 minutes, Karan came out. Not only did he come, he carried a CPU with him. Yes, a CPU. Our jaws dropped and we quite understandably didn’t know how to react. “Oh see how your jaws have fallen due to your amazement at my genius! Don’t worry, you aren’t alone; I surprise myself sometimes too! I left all the unnecessary clutter behind, some random hard-drives and wires that were attached to the computer” he announced. Still no response. Just expressionless. “It is completely foolproof! I couldn’t crack the incredibly difficult code so I, in essence, got the entire machine!” he said, reassuringly. Adoksh was the first to speak, simply saying that we should not waste time and head back to class without uttering a single word about what Karan just did. Well how could he? None of us knew whether to laud Karan or to abuse him! We just went along with it. We quietly went back to class and soon it was time to head home, with a proud Karan enthrusted the task of carrying the CPU back home. He was so pleasantly astounded at his own genius that he didn’t mind lugging the extra kilos back home. 

The next day, we were quite cheerful and were expecting our teacher to inform us of the burglary of a CPU that took place any moment now. It was all going to plan, our teacher walked in calmly, fixed her half-crescent glasses on her nose, and said, “Last night, we had a break-in with the main CPU going missing-.” Our excitement was palpable, any moment now she would say that the marks-cards would be sent to our parents on the earlier date and we would rejoice. “-However the thieves or whatever they were, didn’t take the hard-drive with all the marksheets and so your parents will still be getting your results at the date that I mentioned yesterday.” For the second successive day, our jaws dropped…


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