"Let's do it then."
It was three in the morning.The sky was pitch dark and there was no one around...that was...except two boys.
"So we have the necessary things-do we?"
"Hmm...I think so..."
Aakash twitched his mouth nervously.The truth was that he had stuffed so many toys in his bag that there was literally no space for any 'necessary item'.
"What do you mean by I think so?"
Sunil had sensed the brittleness of Aakash's sentence.He knew him for four long years .Aakash was now in 8th grade, but his habit of collecting toys had not gone.
"Well..you know...that American toy pistol I got from my uncle?"
"Well...I'm taking it ."
"We can play...or..."
A sudden idea struck his mind.
"...we can sell it to a toy vendor when we are in need of money!"
"How much money will it make?"
"Oh...atleast a hundree rupes...it is really antique you know?"
"Hmm..OK then...take it."
They were busy making plans for the great escape from that horrible hostel the following night when they suddenly heard a sound.
"Hey,what was that??"whispered Sunil.
They looked around for the source of the sound but found nothing except the dark stillness of the night.
"Someone must be eavesdropping."concluded Aakash after waiting for a few seconds.
"Then what will happen now?"
"I don't know...except..if it was Princi ,we would have been getting detentions right now."
"So it's not Princi?"
"No...but someone else."
"Will that someone report us to him?"
"I don't know."
Both the boys stopped talking .The anxious fear crept up to them.What if they were caught now?
After a long period of pin drop silence during which the two boys could only feel their hearts fluttering violently, Aakash broke the silence.
"So let's go to the dorm now."
"Yes..and we must do so very quitely.The one who was eavesdropping can be still on his guard."
Slowly they crept into their dormroom.But who was the eavesdropper???
The next morning, Aakash and Sunip were on their guard. At breakfast, they scanned the faces of every boy and girl for any I know your plan signs. But strangely, there were none. Nor had anyone gone to Princi and complained to him.Who was it then? Was it a cat? Or a dog?
They were whispering among themselves worriedly in the common room , when someone made them jerk violently.
"Sunil? Aakash? I wanna talk to you."
It was Meenakshi, or as her friends called her, Meena.She was a valiant know it all and loved to interfere in each and every issue going on in the school.
"What happened boys? Didn't you hear me? I want to talk with you two right now!"
There was something in her tone that made them feel alarmed.Meena sat down and looked intsnsively into their eyes, as if she was going to turn them into ashes.
"I know your secret."
Aakash stumbled off his stool as Sunil stammered " W-what are you t-t-talking about??"
"Dont act like you dont know what I am talking about.You are planning of running away."
"Well...what if we are?"
Sunil tried to bring some courage ij his voice but the C word crept out at the very sight of her piercing eyes.
"Well you can't !" She said desperately.
"Its utter stupidity."
"Yes we can."
"Dont be idiotic!"
"We are not being idiotic. You dont know how it is to live as a boy in this hostel..."
"I dont ? I dont ?"
Her voice started rising, but on seeing that the others were looking at them, she lowered it again and whispered angrily.
"You think we live in luxury here, do you mister? Well, let me tell you...."
Her low voice turned into a hoarse whisper.
"If you ever come to our dorms...you'll be able to see in what condition it is. I think...maybe, even worse than the boys'. But we Don't just run away because we are..."
Sunil completed her sentemce in his own style and gave her a sly smile.
"No mister, because we are sensible."
"Oh yah yah, Cowardly Sensible."
"No.Sensibly Sensible. Because we are not so stupid to think that we would get away with it.And...you are here for just two uears. You have no idea how the boys and girls are punished here if they run away."
"Because they are always careless enough to be caught."yawned Aakash sleepily. "And please stop your lecture now. We need some rest , as we won't be sleeping tonight."
"What? Report us to Princi?"
Meena went as red as a beetroot. She got up with a loud thud and marched right out of the room.
"These girls. Always poking their noses in others' work." commented Sunil.
"She was just jealous that she was not having such a wonderful adventure as we would be."
Aakash yawned and fell asleep on his stool.
As night wore on, the hearts of the two boys began to feel heavier. All this while they had only planned about running away. But would they do after that? No one would employ thirteen year olds. And even if they got employed, it would not suit them . They would have to run away again . Would they spend their entire lives running away from places? They could sell that toy gun of Aakash and get some money from it. They could even buy a ticket and get up on the train to...to?
Where would they go?? Their parents were sitting peacefully in heaven after putting them in trouble. Was what Meena said right after all? Was it really stupid to run away?
"I think its a bad idea."
"Me too." yawned Aakash.
"What should we do then?" inquired Sunil.
"Keep it aside."
"Yah. For some time..."
Aakash rested his head on a hard pilow. It was not uncomfortable to sleep with if. They were accustomed to hard things in life. Hard teachers, hard sums, hard rotis, hard potatoes, and hard pillows.
"Or...forever." Aakash concluded as he drifted into a deep sleep which could not be broken easily.