At the back of my class sits Balasundram, the kid with the loudest mouth. Bala, as we call him, has a physique that is as distinctive as his voice. He is a fitness freak who revels in doing anything that requires strength and agility. He is, much to our frustration, the best sportsman in the whole school. He can. outsprint, outjump and outplay anybody in almost any athletic event or game. if given the chance I am sure he would be excellent in netball as well. I believe he would dearly love to play netball too judging from the interested way he watches a netball match, or maybe he watches something else in the match.
Anyway, Bela’s athletic prowess is well known, not only in our school but in other schools as well. He is a living example of physical perfection. Every muscle and every bone work in perfect harmony whenever he is in action. Our school is very proud of him, rightly so. He is the captain of most of the games teams as well as chairman of various societies. As ! have ‘mentioned before, his voice is quite something else, much suited for the role of the school’s cadet sergeant which he is.
Being the optimist that he is, Bala is always the center of attraction, whether in the field or in the classroom. Most teachers like him because he is the most -helpful student around, especially when help is required to carry books or to open stuck drawers. We like him too for he is our spokesman for everything. Nobody can speak louder or more fluently than Baia. Besides he enjoys talking as much as running.
Despite his loud voice. Bala is a hopeless sinner. We discovered this on teacher’s day a year ago when we asked him to sing a song. I have never heard “The green green grass of home” abused so much. We never ask him to sing again.
In studies, Bala is an average student. Sometimes I wonder how he can manage to participate in all the activities and still find time to study. Still, he manages, but he admits quite frankly that he wishes that his academic performance was on par with his athletic achievements.
Right in front of the class, a step from the teacher’s table, is Meng Tat, the bookworm. He is the most inconspicuous person I have ever come across. He hardly speaks, being of the quiet type and when he does speak, Bala’s whispers would be louder in comparison. This scrawny little boy has no time for anything physical. For him, life revolves around books. He studies all the time. I am certain that he has never stepped to the back of the class yet. As I sit next to Bala at the back, all I can see of Meng Tat is a thin huddled figure bent over a book, day in day out without a break, except when a teacher comes in and he has to stand up.
We bring in the same class that must have been purely coincidental. I suspect that he might not even know my name. am quite sure he knows only the lesser book-worms sitting near him. These lesser beings station themselves around Meng Tat for obvious favors, Meng Tat is the top student in our class. I myself tried to ask for his help once, but Meng Tat was too shocked by my sudden presence to be of any help. To him, I must have been overbearing. In fact, I must have frightened him. I left in a hurry when I detected the nervous quivering on his cheek. l never reeked help from him ever again.
I do not envy his isolation except when the examination results come out. That is the time when he beats the living daylights out of us. Invariably he would get A’s in everything, there is no way we can come close. Meng Tat is simply too good in his studies. I suppose he will go on to become a doctor or something to that effect.
Bala would probably go on to be a soccer hero or a polarisation.
Sometimes when I think of these two characters above and the others in between, including myself, I am truly astonished by the immense variety of human beings who live together with one another. How and why this is so I do not know. I can only say that it is great to be among them.