Sept Shorts03: Mehtavian Maths

Young Adults fiction & Tween fiction are categories I still enjoy. These are the genres that sustained my love of reading and delivered me into the lifelong love affair with books. Here’s my first attempt at a short story for young readers.


“Nasreen Shaekh!”

Mehta ma’am…no, her voice, ricocheted off the classroom walls, like bricks.


Shaniya squealed, in a fake voice, just as another voice rang out clearly,

“Present, teacher!”

The class giggled, holding up their textbooks in front of their faces. Mehta ma’am looked up, suspiciously. Her eyebrows pressed into the bridge of her spectacles, forming an angle as sharp as an arrowhead.


she repeated, her cautious snarl hanging in the air, waiting to settle on its victim.

Nasreen stood up and said her PresentTeacher again. The Mehtavian unibrow reached its pinnacle. Then it flattened as she moved on to Nilesh Shah. Nasreen hissed ‘You idiot!’ in her direction and sat down. Shaniya’s cheeks flushed. She hadn’t even realized that Nasreen had come to class. That’s why she had attempted to give a proxy attendance for the first time in her life. On top of that to risk it in Mehta ma’am’s class….she would only have done that for Nasreen! They were best friends and partners, after all. Why would she call her Idiot?

Her gaze shifted to Nasreen and the group sitting with her. They were smirking while Nasreen muttered something only they could hear. The blood drained from Shaniya’s cheeks. She looked at the friendship band still brightly coloured, on her wrist. She was very fond of it and made sure it didn’t look raggedy the way friendship bands got after awhile. Nasreen had an identical one but Shaniya could see she wasn’t wearing it now. Her eyes prickled but she sucked her breath in and held it till the surge subsided. She wouldn’t let those awful girls get the satisfaction of seeing her cry!!

The attendance taken, Mehta ma’am picked up the textbook. Shaniya opened her exercise book. Seeing her homework ready and correct (she knew it was!), made her feel a little better. Maths was her strongest subject. So she had never had to endure the Mehtavian unibrow, which routinely pointed at weaker students and tore into them like a giant claw.

“Children, have you done your homework?”

Mehta ma’am demanded.

class room
class room (Photo credit: yewenyi)

Shaniya turned the pages of her book, waiting. She wanted to smile smugly at the group that had laughed. She would have all the right to!! No doubt, most of them wouldn’t have done the homework. And those who had, would have gotten most of them wrong. But she kept her eyes on her book. The unibrow jutted towards the third row. Ravi, its intended victim, shriveled under the force of Mehtavianism. While he was under fire, Shaniya felt the desk shift and turned to find Nasreen back in her seat. What was this now?? She stared but she didn’t dare ask, while the unibrow was still on fire.

They did the rest of their sums in silence as Mehta ma’am raked the rows, poking holes into their classmates, left, right and center. The neighboring row all got a unibrow attack. By the time she reached the group that Nasreen had left behind, it had turned into the Terminator.

Mehta ma’am was even more diabolical than Shastry sir who exploded even more often than the chemicals in his laboratory! BOOM! PACHAK!! Chemistry was always like that. But Maths was unpredictable. You could never tell what Mehta ma’am would do. Today was extra horrible. Three students (all of those who smirked when Nasreen glared at Shaniya) were sent to the princi’s office. Two were made to stand next to the blackboard on one foot (Each student on a foot, not two people on one foot).

Shaniya sneaked a look at Nasreen’s book, while Nasreen’s back was turned, watching the explosion in horror. Nasreen had many of her sums wrong!! But Shaniya had no time to warn her, before Mehta ma’am turned into their row. The unibrow was much flatter and the Mehtavian breathing smoother as she approached.

Nasreen was sitting next to the aisle so it was her turn first. She stood up and began to read her answers out. Shaniya could see the unibrow getting pointier and pointier. By sum 4, Nasreen panicked and paused. Shaniya knew she was trying to look into her book. But instead of moving it slowly her way, she looked up. Nasreen caught the full blast of the Shaniya scowl (as it would come to be known). She stammered and lost her place. Still, Mehta ma’am didn’t say anything (Shaniya had been expecting a punishment by this time). She suddenly realized that the teacher wasn’t paying attention. So Shaniya began mumbling the answers instead. Nasreen started to repeat those answers instead of the ones in her own book (everyone knew Shaniya’s would be the right ones).

“270 degrees….Angle a and Angle b….7 cm…”

At sum 10, Shaniya closed her book. Nasreen, repeating the prompted answers continued,

“Corresponding angles…..45 degrees…Line YouIdiot.”

The unibrow turned into a dragon (no, it didn’t really). But Mehta ma’am’s screaming voice was heard for the first time in that class. And Nasreen Shaekh got to be sent to the princi’s office. As Mehta ma’am said, no one had ever dared to call a teacher an idiot before!! Shaniya smiled to herself as she shut her exercise book (with all correct answers). Mehtavian Maths was her best subject.

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