The Hindi teacher was absent. So class 2-B had an off period. The substitute teacher for the day had come and quietened everyone in the class. Now, most of the class had either finger on their lips or head on the desk. With his head on his desk, he whispered to his seat partner, Sumit, and announced the good news for the day, the news that was making every second in school feel like an hour. He said “Papa is going to get me a video game set today”. Sumit then whispered back the most dreadful news of the day for him. “You know that in those games, children below 10 die if they die in the game on the TV.” (Obviously, Sumit’s parents did not want to get him a Video game set, and had tried to buy 3 years time with this lie). He believed every word of what Sumit said, and spent the rest of the day in total fear, and searching for reasons as to why his parents were not scared about him and his younger sister. Did they not love them?
He was scared all the way back home in the bus, his sister could hardly hide her excitement. Papa came home early in the evening with the Video game set. He slowly sneaked into the background, hiding behind his mother, or behind the door, as Papa read the instruction manual and struggled with the wires and the connections. His sister, was jumping around Papa, often disturbing him. Finally the console was set up, and Papa tested it with a quick game of Super Mario. He, shyly nodded his head, and tried to plant himself deeper behind the bedroom doors, when Papa offered him the joystick and the chance to play the game. Mama tried to coax him out and make him play, but he kept shaking his head and strengthening the grip on the door. His sister, excitement not withstanding, snatched the joystick, and wanted to play Mario again. He lets out the loudest shriek of his life, and shouts, “No, she will die, she will die”. Mama says, “Its OK beta, let her try the game”. He hides his face behind the door, in mortal fear of seeing death, and starts weeping. Mama goes into the room, reasoning to Papa that something must have happened in school; he has been moody all day long. His Sister starts the game.
She jumps around randomly and is able to capture the Mushroom and grows instantly. He is watching the game through the partially open door, nodding “No” to Mama’s theories about what happened in school (Did Miss say something, Did Sumit say something, Did you get the Maths marks). Her sister, ecstatic about catching the mushroom, falls straight down into the abyss at the first jump over the walls in the game. Mario dies. He stares breathlessly at his sister. She has a sad face and looks at Papa, as the music plays on in the game, and a new Mario comes to replace the dead one. His sister plays again, and he sighs, and leaps in joy and runs to snatch the joystick from his sister, “I want to play now, you have played enough”.