It was the first time for the 6th graders at Indira International School when their class teacher, Mrs. Mittal, encouraged them to ‘run for elections’ for class monitor.
The next day, contestant 1, Maya said, “I want to be monitor because I want to be the boss of all of you.” Alisha then took centerstage and said she wanted to ‘serve’ the class. When Maya asked Alisha what ‘serving the class meant’ Alisha froze and said she didn’t know. Dev looked at the 40 kids in front of him, froze, ran back to his seat, put his head down, and decided not to contest. Finally, contestant 4, Billu announced, “I will buy chocolates for everyone and Fantas also.” After recess, Alisha withdrew her candidacy.
The elections were set a week later.
Maya hustled her former rivals Alisha and Dev, made posters that read, “Maya for class 4A Monitor” and slapped them all over the lockers, the corridors, and the gym. After an informal poll, Maya promised to get lockers for her class (their school allowed lockers only for those in the 9th grade and up), cellphones in class, e-books instead of actual books, and more.
Billu bought everyone Fanta and chocolates.
On the day of the elections, Maya and Billu made their final pitch. Maya stood with Dev and Alisha next to her and thanked her ‘team’ for making over 50 posters, designing the petition for lockers for 6th graders, cellphones in class, and e-books. She announced she would be the best monitor ever and waited expectantly. Her classmates yawned, and some napped before Mrs. Mittal gave them her famous stink-eye and they burst into applause.
Billu carried a huge bag to the stage and announced, “Free chocolates for all!” and distributed them to a rapturous class.
It wasn’t even close. Maya got one vote. Hers. Even Dev and Alisha voted for Billu.
A chastened Mrs. Mittal announced, “This was a truly democratic election. The campaigning was sketchy, and the best candidate did not win but you have spoken. Billu is your new class monitor.”
She beckoned to Billu to make the acceptance speech. Before he spoke Maya rushed to him and spoke to him animatedly. Finally, he addressed the class and said, “I’m tired. Maya will be the monitor. She has plans and everything.”
Mrs. Mittal was shocked, but it was business as usual for the class. They shuffled their feet, pulled a week-old bubblegum from under the desk that they had stuck and surreptitiously shoved it inside their mouths, and dug their noses when a focused Maya announced importantly, “Thank you Billu. You’ve made the right decision.”
She then told Alisha and Dev, “Bring paper and pencil for our first meeting after class today.”
Later, Mrs. Mittal accosted Billu about dropping out. He shrugged, “Maya promised me her allowance for the next two weeks.” He yawned and went back to shoving his face with the chocolates he’d bought to win the class elections.
Roopa writes essays, opinions, humor, and fiction. Her fiction, satire, and creative non-fiction essays are published on Outlook, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Writer’s Blokke, Kitaab, Eksentrika, Women’s Web, and more. She now has a weekly opinion column on Elephant Journal. Her humor is published on Slackjaw, Frazzled, Greener Pastures Magazine, The Haven, and more. She refers to herself in the 3rd person, is fiercely competitive, and f*cking loves and hates amazing writers. Check out her gems at www.themessyoptimist.com
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