The Substitute Teacher: The Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat

When the ST brings something to eat, VIC discovers that Shravan wouldn’t eat most of the stuff they did.

December 09, 2022 10:11 am | Updated 10:11 am IST

Story so far: VIC can’t decide what to do about the ST. Though he is annoying and interfering, he knows how to have fun.

Everyone knew what teachers did at lunchtime. They had seen them in the Staff Room, heard their laughter, and sniffed the delicious smells wafting out. VIC couldn’t imagine any teacher leaving the food party.

So, when the ST joined VIC for lunch, the students groaned and muttered. Something, they agreed, would have to be done. They huddled in groups and began to share ideas over hungry bites. Then the ST opened a big box and walked around the classroom, urging, “Have one!”

“What is it?” they asked suspiciously and were instantly ashamed when he said, “Something I made!” They examined what was inside. It looked like a burfi; so, those who liked sweets took big pieces while those who didn’t picked the smallest.

Except Shravan, who said, “I don’t eat!”

By now most of VIC had tasted the pieces. Those who disliked sweets were happy it wasn’t sweet while the sweet lovers were disappointed. But all realised that it was delicious: smooth and nutty, with a sharp lemony flavour.

“Eat,” they told Shravan. “You’ll like it!”

Trial and error

But Shravan simply shook his head and said, “I don’t eat anything!” This was too much for Mansi, who waved her pizza slice under his nose and demanded, “Not even this?”

“No,” Shravan said.

Manjit held out a puri and Shravan refused, again. It became a challenge to see what he would eat. People crowded around him, begging him to try their lunch. The air filled with a tempting mixture of smells. People peered into each other’s boxes and found them full of food they liked.

VIC was astonished to see Amaan asking Jiya, who had been his enemy for as long as anyone could remember, “Noodles! Can I have some, please?” They were even more astonished when Jiya pushed her lunch box towards Amaan.

This seemed to be the signal VIC had been waiting for. In a minute the air was full of the sounds of people asking to taste things. Shravan was not forgotten and VIC continued to try to get him to eat something. It was nearly a week later when they finally discovered what Shravan was willing to eat: dal and rice.

By then, they had got used to sharing their lunch with the whole class. It was so much fun and VIC was surprised that they had managed so long without sharing. Now, of course, there was no question of going back to their old ways of eating. Besides, they had to take care of Shravan, the boy who wouldn’t eat. It was their duty.

And the ST? Something would have to be done about that too!

(To be continued)

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