We were a bunch of boisterous and active boys, that is, the four of us who sat at one corner of the class. We were always laughing and talking much to the dismay of our teachers who had to keep telling to keep quiet while the lessons were going on. We listened somewhat, but normally revert to our noisy ways whenever we had a chance. Nathan, Abu, George and I made sure there was always some fun in the class.
The girls did not seem impressed with our behaviour and they sit right in front of the class furthest from us. There were eight girls in our class and they are the quietest I had ever met.
One day, while we were waiting for the next teacher to come to class, Nathan, the martial arts freak, said he wanted to show us his skill in breaking wooden boards with his bare hands. First, he produced a flat piece of wood and supported it horizontally between two chairs. Then he stood in front of the piece of wood, took a deep a deep breath and broke the piece of wood into two with a quick stroke of his hand.
Everyone cheered, except the girls.
That was quite a feat. Abu asked Nathan whether he could break a bigger piece of wood. Nathan said that he could try. However, there was no big piece of wood available for Nathan to test his skill on. However, there were a lot of wooden chairs and desks. So, Abu and I decided to get a piece of wood from one of the old chairs. It was a stupid and irresponsible thing to do but at that moment it seemed all right.
Abu held on to one leg of the chair while I tried to pull the crosspiece out. We tugged and pulled but it was not as easy as we thought. The piece of wood could not be pulled out. We tried again, with additional help from George.
We tried again. I tugged at the piece of wood while Abu and George held on tight to the chair. Suddenly my hands slipped from the piece of wood I was tugging at. This had the effect of making the chair fly backwards and smashing into the window panes behind Abu and George.
Crash! A whole section of window panes broke and fell to the floor. We must have broken at least ten pieces of window panes. For a moment there was a deathly silence in the class while we soaked in the severity of our irresponsible action. Then one of the girls laughed and said, “Now you are in big trouble.”
And big trouble it was. We were hauled to the headmaster’s office and each of us was given three strokes of the rotan for our offence. Furthermore, we had to pay for the broken window panes. We were not rich but we had to use our pocket money to pay by instalments. For the next six weeks, we had nothing to eat or drink at recess time. We really deserved what we got.
We were fortunate that the headmaster decided not to tell our parents„ Otherwise we would be in even worse trouble. He gave us a chance to pay for what we had done, and we did.
From that day on, the four of us learned a very important lesson. We no longer made noise in class nor tries to perform martial arts tricks. It was not such a pleasant thing to be caned and to go hungry for trying to show off. It was actually such a stupid thing to do.
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