Khalid clutched his stomach and let out a loud groan.
“I really can’t go to school today, Mother. I have a terrible stomach ache.”
His mother looked at him with concern and some exasperation.
“Khalid, how can you have a stomach ache now? You were absolutely fine last night,” his mother said, checking his forehead for any sign of fever and finding none.
“It just started suddenly,” Khalid answered feebly.
“I’ll make you some herbal tea. I have a very important meeting at office today. Will you be all right by yourself?” she asked, feeling rather worried.
“Yes, mother. Please go to your office. I’ll be fine,” Khalid quickly assured her.
As soon as he heard his mother leave, Khalid jumped out of the bed with a whoop. It was Friday morning and Khalid had a very special reason for not attending school. You see, on last Friday of every month, his math teacher Sir Hassan would take a special test to see how much mathematical concepts his students had understood.
Sir Hassan was a very dedicated teacher and would gladly spend hours explaining theory and numericals to the students. He did not mind going over the same thing again and again till he was certain that each and every student was on board. But he expected the same level of commitment from his students too.
If anyone did not do well in his special tests he would make sure the student stayed behind in recess and sports classes. Sir Hassan would then coach him on a one to one basis. Khalid was quite intelligent but quite careless.
His mother was sometimes very disappointed with his lack of commitment to his studies and often urged him to balance his play time and studies but her reminders fell on deaf ears.
At home he spent most of his time glued to his computer games. He had not studied a single word last evening and spent the entire time flying virtual planes and shooting down the enemy. Now he dreaded giving the test and had faked a stomach ache to avoid it.
Feeling very pleased with himself, Khalid roamed the house in his pajamas. He made his own breakfast and ate it in front of the television.
“My poor friends,” he thought smugly. “They’ll be sweating over the difficult questions right at this moment while I am lazing around.”
He watched some cartoons and an action movie. By 11 o’ clock, he had started yawning so he switched on his computer. After an hour or so, even his computer games had lost their excitement. By 2 o’clock, he was so bored that he started thinking of his school
“Even Sir Hassan’s most horrid test would be preferable to this boredom,” he thought morosely. “At least in school, I have my friends and so many other activities.”
Out of sheer boredom, he took out his school books and started studying. He was extremely glad when his mother came home in the evening.
Next Monday, Khalid went to school bright and early. He had a written application from his mother to explain his absence on Friday so he hoped that Sir Hassan would not be too angry. As soon as he entered the school, his friends surrounded him.
“Where were you on Friday, you idiot?” His best friend, Ali grabbed him. “Why did you miss the test?”
“Was Sir Hassan very angry?” Khalid asked nervously.
“No, silly,” Akbar replied. “After he marked the test papers, he invited us all to go with him to PAF Museum.”
“He said we had worked very hard so he had sought special permission from the principal. It was a grand surprise. We went by school bus and had a tremendous time,” added Zohaib.
“Sir Hassan really is great,” Ali raved. “He knows a lot about air crafts. His father was a pilot. We saw wonderful fighter air crafts, lots of weapons and machinery.”
“Do you know the plane used by Muhammed Ali Jinnah is also on display there?” Zeeshan piped in.
“We also did some shopping at the souvenir shop. See this?” Ali proudly showed poor Khalid a small, bright fighter craft model.
“Yes. Sir Hassan loaned us some money……See,” they all crowded around Khalid showing him their proud collection of shirts, pens, key chains and aircraft models.
Khalid was extremely disappointed and felt very sorry for himself. His ambition was to become a fighter pilot when he grew up. Now he had missed a golden chance to visit PAF complex with his friends. Missing school just was not such a good idea after all.
“Oh why didn't I study for the test? Then I wouldn't have to deceive my mother or miss such a wonderful trip.” Khalid thought guiltily.
Khalid tore up the false application. He went to Sir Hassan and apologized for his absence. Sir Hassan smiled at the sad, little face and forgave him.
That evening, he surprised his mother with a big hug, a perfect test score and a card that said “I am Sorry.”