To read this series from the start, visit here.


Daniel’s slow gait through the school corridor only indicated nostalgia, his town high school was completely different to this private school whose class windows were fitted with frosted glass and department buildings named after Nobel Prize winners whose name was difficult to spell even for the brightest minds that attended the school, but it was a matter of school policy rather than reverence. Nobody cared.

A far cry from his school which had a fountain in the main courtyard, the centerpiece of it was the goddess of learning. In a sense, his was also an initially a private school but later dedicated to the nation in the events following the achievement of freedom. The goddess was not taken down even when the school went secular and it did not bother the school going Daniel one bit.

The Lord Rayleigh Administrative block seemed to the newest on campus, given to the hands of a amateur but willing to please architect it passed off as a building with an amount of admissible strictness; much like the principal Ms. Deepa Prakasam M.Ed, Honorary Chair Person The Burning Candle Foundation as the wooden board neatly painted in white said.

Inspector Daniel needn’t ask what the foundation stood for, once he had been admitted into the cool office he knew from the posters that showed the glowing face of a poor child learning used metaphorically as a candle flame.

“What is that you would like to see me about Inspector?” said the principal who didn’t look the age that Daniel had imagined all principals to be but had distinctive goggles that somehow suggested an optician who made a killing by providing glasses to the  upper academia.

“The boy, Ramesh Mangal”

Not so far away, in the cold comfort of an air conditioned room Ramesh Mangal, who for a while had been dubbed as ‘the boy who returned’ sat on his parents’ double bed and read the previous week issue of ‘Balloons: the weekly magazine for gifted children’ . Although his mother had barred him from reading the magazine, Ramesh thought that his life wouldn’t be complete without the latest issue of Balloons. He never really understood why his mother had forbid him from reading the colorful magazine, but for any considerate parent it was obvious from the title that the magazine contained lewd imagery.

His mother was somewhere in the house (he could hear her talking in Hindi to the maid, scolding perhaps because the maid was Tamil) and his father was away as usual. This was the perfect moment to catch up on Spy No: 12, the best story according to young Ramesh.

Then he remembered, like the time how he used to remember suddenly in mathematical examinations: the method to solve a problem that he was currently not working on. He would usually stop working on the exam paper and continue to do the numbers of his mind.

He remembered the voice of the woman. Yes, there had been a woman and he had not told the soft speaking policeman about it. The woman had said thrice, “Careful, do not mess with his head”. He partially understood what she meant; he did not say a thing.

Instinctively he dropped the magazine; his mother came in and said “there you are beta, time for lunch!”


<Author’s note: this publication marks the 40th post of the Lowly Laureate, 40th reject scrap in unkind terms. Unkind but true>

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