The Mildpowered Virgins of Novylion High
(Future) Captain Umito Dishahara’s Journal
Entry 1 (contd.)
‘I’m not going to say bad words anymore.’ Puna Maiwal’s statement confused us so much that none of us knew what to say. After ten seconds of silence, Tan Talaragi spoke up.
‘Puna, you’re a swell guy but I don’t think that’s possible.’ Tan, the most supportive, least judgemental guy I’ve ever met, didn’t think that Puna could ever give up cursing. If you walked up to Tan Talaragi and told him that you were never going to insert a pen drive into a USB port the wrong way around ever for the rest of your life no matter what, he would smile at you and wish you good luck. That’s how much he believes in the potential of the human spirit. Yet this was too outlandish of a proposition for him.
‘Hold on. Don’t give up on me yet. Umito did it. He used to swear a lot during his delinquent phase.’
‘He never used to swear as much as you. And he just called me mongrel snot a few minutes ago so there’s still skid marks in his potty mouth. All he gave up was beating up dudes and stuff and that was only after… whatsername… Kishika left.’
No. He doesn’t—
‘Um… I’m going to go pee.’
I didn’t need to pee. I just couldn’t look at Hagesh’s face for another second. How dare that bald chimpanzee say her name. May a million locusts descend upon his crop. I passed Jitsu on my way to the toilet. He said something to me but I didn’t hear it and I didn’t respond. All the blood in my head felt like it was boiling. Bhffft. Duk-duk, duk-duk. All I could hear was my own pulse. Everything else was blocked behind a wall of air. Like I was wearing a stethoscope placed on my own heart. I made a beeline for the corner stall and locked myself in. The door and the walls got it.
How could he have no remorse at all for what he did?
I know it was inadvertent but the result is the same, isn’t it? She’s somewhere far away.
I was dragging my nails across my scalp and clutching my head with my elbows. I couldn’t hold the tears in.
It wasn’t his fault.
Yes, it was!
No. He didn’t make me go away. He never meant for me to go away.
It’s my father’s fault. It’s your father’s fault. It’s my mother’s fault. It’s your mother’s fault.
No. They only meant well for both of us.
Who made you go away then?
I love you so much. I love you so damn much. Every day is hell without you, Kishika.
I love you too.
I’ll come for you someday. I’ll bring an entire battle fleet if I have to.
I’ll wait for you.
Luckily, the door wasn’t too badly scratched or dented. I can’t do this sort of stuff again. I can’t break a door again. Even if, unlike last time, no one gets injured.
Treat school property like you would your own ship.
Yes, of course.
When I got back to the courtyard, the rest of the students had already assembled. Tan was standing on the stage with the choir, singing the school song. Everyone was standing to attention. I got scolded by Nemuvaku-sensei for being late and I hurried over to my spot in our section’s line behind Ashukami. He’d reserved it so that the line wouldn’t be disturbed when I came back. He also always reserves Tan’s spot in front of him when Tan goes up to the stage. One empty spot in front of him and one empty spot behind him. Before I joined the line, it looked like Ashukami had cooties. Like no one wanted to get close to him. How happy I’d be if that were true.
When the school song was over, Tan came back. He has a beautiful voice, truly. That’s his guṇa. His voice has a range of five octaves or… maybe more? I don’t know anything about musical terms and he told me about it a long time ago so I don’t remember. Whatever the exact number was, it was very impressive and set some kind of a record or something. But two very big problems hold him back from gaining wider recognition in the school and elsewhere. The first one is that he can only use his amazing voice to sing classical music. If he tries to sing a song in any other genre of music, he sounds… not bad but not quite good either. The second is that our school’s music teacher, Shira-sensei, is a sixty-year-old woman with a deviated septum. And I suspect that she is also tone deaf. Her balloon-fart-like voice drowns out all harmony and melody (or whatever the correct term is) that the rest of the choir works so hard to create. On top of that, she’s just very bad at playing the harmonium, which is an instrument that even little children mostly learn to play half-decently after a few months of practice.
The morning announcements and morning messages delivered by the students (I think today’s topic was ‘How to manage one’s time effectively’) were proceeding as usual when I unconsciously loosened up from my perfect posture and my gaze started wandering. That’s when I realised that I wasn’t standing exactly where I had been before I left to ‘pee’. It was just slightly off, I thought, or maybe I was wrong. Or maybe Ashukami had made a mistake. But that had never happened before. Then it hit me: the transfer student must be in line with us. I looked behind me but saw only the faces that I was used to seeing every day. Obviously, idiot, if he had been behind me, my position would have remained exactly the same. That meant that he was shorter than me. How was that possible? Then again, Hagesh rowed faster than me. Maybe a low centre of gravity was the key to handling a raft well. I’d have to look into it. My eyes scanned the line ahead of me for an unfamiliar head of hair.
And standing at the front of the line, having taken Hagesh’s title as the shortest person in our section, was a boy who I could only tell was a boy because he was wearing the boys’ uniform. The wrong uniform for the day (as we’re supposed to wear the all-white uniform on Wednesdays to honour the martyrs of the Wednesday Uprising (not the martyrs who rose up, mind you, but the ones who died trying to make them sit back down)), but a boys’ uniform nonetheless. At least from the back, he looked very much like a girl. Long, unkempt hair that touched his shoulders, delicate arms and, I’m ashamed to admit that I noticed it but, a big butt. How could those weak arms manage to steer that rickety raft? Maybe I was mistaken. Maybe there was another transfer student in another section or another class. If I could just get a better view…
But I couldn’t look for too long before Nemuvaku-sensei came up behind me and tapped my shoulder. I immediately froze up. He can be as scary sometimes as he is friendly other times. He whispered into my ear, ‘Are you a man or a goat, Umito-kun?’
‘Are you a man or a goat?’
‘A man, sensei.’
‘You look like a goat to me.’
‘Where on a man’s head did God place his eyes?’
‘On the front?’
‘That’s correct. Very astute.’
‘Thank you, sensei.’
‘And where on a goat’s head did God place its eyes?’
‘On the sides?’
‘That is also correct. You must be a genius.’
‘I’m honoured to receive your praise, sensei.’
‘It’s no small feat, Umito-kun. You should be proud. You’re the smartest goat I’ve ever met. No, you might be the smartest goat in the history of goats.’
‘Why am I a goat, sensei?’
‘Well, with the way you were looking sideways and rear-ways and every other which way except for forwards, who would take you to be a man?’
‘I’m sorry, sensei. I’ll try my best to be a man and not a goat from now on.’
‘I’ll take your word for it. But if you do metamorphose into a goat, I’m sure Madam Principal would be delighted to see such a unique specimen in her own school. She is an animal lover, as you might know. It’ll be a far greater honour than my praise to see the interior of her office.’
‘I’ll keep that in mind, sensei. Thank you for your guidance.’
I would like to inform you, dear reader, that the word ‘kid’ can refer to the young of both humans and goats.
After Nemu-sensei’s warning, I didn’t dare move a muscle. Tan went back up to the stage again to sing the national anthem, which, thankfully, is old enough to be considered classical music. The assembly thus ended, nothing exciting having happened, and we all went back to our classroom.
‘What was the conclusion of Puna’s cursing discussion?’ I asked Tan.
‘Oh, we’re still thinking about it. In the worst case we might have to use Ashukami’s siddhī.’ Puna must be really serious about it then. I’d never seen Ashukami’s siddhī in action. I don’t think anyone else in our class had either. I don’t think any of us knew how it worked either.
Our conversation was interrupted by Mimi-sensei walking in and making an announcement. Mimi-sensei is probably the sweetest, most kind teacher in our school. A small, middle-aged woman with a kind face, short black hair and a very low voice: all these qualities make her very easy to talk to and she genuinely likes helping her students in every way possible. But these very same qualities also make her… let’s say, ‘a less than adequate disciplinarian’. Ever since she became the class teacher of IX-A a week ago (after our previous class teacher left the school for a better job), my classmates have tormented her in the zero period when she takes attendance. They keep talking over her and she has to shout to be heard. The same thing happens in her subject period (Chemistry). Their behaviour is just disgusting. There’s no other word for it. I shuddered at the thought that up until a year ago I might have joined them in their hooliganism. If only Kishika could see this new version of me. Whatever bad things I could say about my new group of friends, they at least were very disciplined and respected their teachers. Even Hagesh. But today was different. Because today, she was announcing the arrival of a very peculiar transfer student.
‘Good—good morning, students. You’ve got a new classmate joining you today.’
And in walked a beautiful boy. A beautiful boy. I repeat: a beautiful boy. He had a smooth, pretty face adorned with big glasses and a wide smile that showed his slightly misshapen teeth. Everything about his appearance was messy. His shoulder-length hair had been combed quite hurriedly, his neckerchief was loosely tied and his shirt had many wrinkles.
‘Please introduce yourself.’ The transfer student had been inspecting the classroom for about ten seconds now.
‘Hey, guys! Nice to meet you. I’m Jajanshu and I—’
‘Your full name please.’
‘I’m Jajanshu Mamanpade and I love playing tag and I love hearing jokes and I love watching TV and I love ice cream! Chocolate is my favourite flavour and strawberry is my second favourite but it has to be fresh strawberry. Butterscotch is OK too but black currant is better. Good ice cream should always be sweet and creamy. I always say what does it matter? If you’re eating ice cream might as well eat the really unhealthy stuff that tastes awesome. Low-fat ice cream is so lame. My Papa says it too. He taught me that.’ His voice was loud and filled the entire classroom. We were all still processing his mini-thesis on ice cream flavours when he said something that would be remembered by the entire class for years to come. Actually, it wasn’t exactly what he said but how he said it.
‘Anyways, I want to be friends with all of you so we can all play tag together. And as for my guṇa, it’s a secret, yo!’ He put his left index finger to his lips, smiled an even bigger smile, tilted his neck thirty degrees, lifted his right foot and winked. He actually, physically winked. Just like an idol. And then he gave us all a flying kiss.
The entire classroom could have died from shock at that moment. It would be a historical case of thirty teenagers simultaneously suffering severe heart attacks. A slow wave of chatter was slowly starting to well up at the back of the classroom. Within moments, this tsunami would reach the front row and all hell would break loose. I needed to do something before this happened. Not only to control the discipline of the classroom but also because if I didn’t, I would lose my one and only opportunity to ask him the question that had been on my mind for an hour now. The topic of conversation could veer off into unknown and uncharted directions. The situation was simply too unpredictable. I raised my hand.
‘Excuse me, sensei, I have a question!’
‘This—this is not really a question-answer kind of—’
I ignored her words and went ahead. I’m sorry, Mimi-sensei, but I had to do it. I did not want to undermine your authority but it was for the greater good.
‘Jajanshu, was that your raft that I saw at the pier this morning? I mean, did you come to school on a raft all by yourself?’ The whole class will probably forever think of me as a boat otaku now but I had no choice.
‘Oh, yeah, yeah! I came on a raft but I didn’t come alone. Papa came with me. Although I do most of the rowing ha ha ha ha! He got a job in accounting here. We both are starting today isn’t that fantastic? Madam Principal is so kind and nice.’ Madam Principal? He knows the principal?
‘How? How do you handle a raft with such a frail body?’
‘Um…’ Mimi-sensei was trying to end this bizarre exchange and the class was too confused to say anything.
‘What? It ain’t so hard you know. I’ve rafted on the Barei River since I was little. But also I do something else but that’s a secret.’ He winked again. I repeat: he winked again.
‘You just gotta practise. What’s your name?’
‘I like you, Umito Dishahara. I want to be friends with you. Can I sit next to you?’
‘Uh… No. Chakrano’s sitting with me, see.’
I looked over to Chakrano Malumaru (no relation to Hagesh), who sits beside me. He was the only one in the classroom who didn’t look the least bit shocked by the words of Jajanshu Mamanpade. But then again, Chakrano never has any expression on his face. He used to be so jolly until just a year ago. Now he hardly says anything and talks to nobody.
‘Hey, Chakrano! I want to sit with Umito so I can be good friends with him. I’ll be friends with you too but later. Whadda you say?’
Chakrano looked up at Jajanshu with his dead eyes and nodded and picked up his bag.
‘Sure. This might as well happen.’ This had sort of become Chakrano’s catchphrase this past year. I don’t know why.
‘Um…’ Mimi-sensei was trying to stop this seat exchange but her attempts were futile.
And so Jajanshu Mamanpade picked up his bag from the shelf (I assume that whoever’s seat he had kept it on earlier had moved it) and put it on Chakrano’s now-former seat. I also noticed something that I hadn’t in the morning: the bag had a photograph of Chi Man on it. Chi Man was an old superhero show that’s been off the air for quite a while. This means that he’s been using the same bag for at least five years.
‘I’m counting on you, Umito-kun.’ Counting on me for what? I really should have asked Chakrano to stay but I was too bewildered, like the rest of the class, to say anything.
Just then, the bell for the first period rang and Zankuru-sensei walked in. Mimi-sensei went out and the whole class got up to greet Zankuru-sensei namaste. He bade us sit down and immediately started writing on the blackboard. The terror that Zankuru-sensei inspires in children of all ages, shapes and sizes is unparalleled. I’ve only known him for three weeks and haven’t found a single good quality. His lessons are boring, his temper is short, he doesn’t answer questions and he gives out a lot of homework. But no one dares say anything in front of him because he hands out diary notes and black stars like a rich farmer distributing sweets after the birth of his first son. He is so scary that even though all the students in the class wanted to discuss what had just occurred, they promptly shut up and stared forward towards the board. But Jajanshu would not let them forget him.
‘So, we’ll just pick up where we left off yesterday. The second equation of motion—’
‘Sensei, hello! I’m new here. My name’s Jajanshu. Jajanshu Mamanpade. Nice to meet you.’
Was this man suicidal? Zankuru-sensei’s eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head. I butted in to try to calm the waters.
‘Sensei, please excuse him. He isn’t very familiar with the culture of the school. I’ll talk to him during recess and explain the—’
‘Shut up, Umito!’
‘No matter what the situation, you aren’t allowed to speak in my class when not spoken too. I’ll punish you both the same. It doesn’t matter where you’re from and what your upbringing has been like. If you cannot understand such simple concepts of discipline then you don’t deserve to be in this school.’ Oh, this was bad. I was gonna get a diary note. And just for trying to do the right thing. I really hate this teacher. But I was saved by Jajanshu, for his following remarks would dwarf my own in terms of discipline-breaking.
‘C’mon sensei. Why you gotta punish anybody? I was just trying to be friendly and get to know you.’
‘Friendly?! I am not your friend or your pal or your buddy. I am your teacher. And…’ Sensei’s face was boiling by this point but he had paused because he had just noticed something. ‘Wait, why are you sitting here? This is Chakrano’s seat.’ Chakrano is sensei’s favourite student. He never says anything and got great marks in the surprise test last week. Chakrano’s generally very good at every subject where he doesn’t have to say anything.
‘I asked Chakrano to go somewhere else because I wanted to sit next to Umito. Anyways, sensei, what’s your name?’ Sensei turned to me in disbelief.
‘Who’s your class teacher?’
‘Mimi-sensei,’ I said.
‘Did she authorise this change of seats?’
‘No,’ I said.
He turned back to Jajanshu. ‘So you changed seats without permission? Are you simply a savage brute who hasn’t experienced civilisation? And you forced poor Chakrano-kun to go to the back?’
‘Sensei, that’s not right. I didn’t have a seat to change. I was seatless. And I asked Chakrano before I took his seat. He is so nice he didn’t mind at all.’
‘But I just got this seat!’
‘Get up, you nincompoop, and come with me to the principal’s office!’
‘Oh that’s great! I was wanting to say thank you to Madam Principal for getting me admission so late.’
‘Stop smiling, fool!’
‘But laughter is the greatest medicine, sensei. Papa says so. A smile a minute is the key to win it.’ Win what, Jajanshu? The things that came out of his mouth…
Zankuru-sensei left the classroom with Jajanshu. It took a full half-minute this time for the chatter wave to propagate to the front. Everyone had a lot of questions and many of them were directed towards me but I had as many answers as anybody else, which is to say, zero. We waited and waited but neither teacher nor student came back. First period passed by like this and second period started. Still, there was no sign of Jajanshu Mamapade. Had Zankuru-sensei murdered him in a fit of rage? Had Madam Principal expelled him immediately? The theories became wilder and wilder with each passing period. Rushil was the main contributor to these theories. He’s the resident gossip queen of our class and has his dirty ears in every group and clique. He even talks to our nerd group sometimes, which is pretty isolated. Nobody hates him but nobody really loves him either. He sits with a pretty girl too, which causes a lot of envy in many circles because he himself is very ugly. Although he is tall, he is also a little fat and has an upturned nose like a pig. But before Rushil’s tall tales could exceed the Yukivasa mountains in height, Jajanshu came back after the fourth period, as soon as recess started.
‘Yo.’ He was immediately stormed by a crowd led by Rushil. Only two people in the class were uninterested. Chakrano had already started eating and Jitsu headed out for some reason. I couldn’t get close to Jajanshu (nor did I particularly want to) but his voice was loud enough to be heard clearly from ten feet away.
‘Ah it was nothing don’t worry about it. Moustache-sensei…’ So Zankuru-sensei had not bothered to introduce himself to Jajanshu-ji. How rude. ‘…took me to Madam Principal’s office and he just went on and on and he wouldn’t even let me sit. He didn’t sit himself too I don’t know how his old-old butt is so strong. Don’t take it the wrong way around my butt is very strong too but when someone’s just going blah-blah-blah-blah for so long I just can’t stand it. He was talking about discipline and my hairstyle and my uniform and whatnot. Do you guys have two uniforms? What a pain. So anyways, when he was done going bluh-bluh, Madam Principal asked him to give me a diary note. But I don’t have a diary stupid. It’s my first day. I haven’t bought one hue-hue-hue. So Madam Principal asked him to go and she said she’d tell me how to be proper and then she finally let me sit she’s such a kind woman and she gave me some tea and she had some too. Of course it’s weird having tea alone. I thank-you’d her for letting me have admission in her school and when I was done with the tea I asked her where do I wash the cup and she said a peon-ji will do it and I was like that’s so awesome I always have to wash my own mug when I drink milk with ChocChi powder at my house. Two glasses a day for strong bones that’s what Papa says and Madam Principal was like yes he’s right. And I was like Papa’s always right hahahaha. And she laughed too and she said go back to your class. But I got confused and I couldn’t find the class. I don’t know the way here. Mimi-sensei was there to guide me in the morning. So I kept roaming around and I reached a garden and it was so beautiful I forgot about the class and kept looking at the flowers and the butterflies. Then when I remembered about it I asked someone and they told me the way but when I got here I saw that there was some other teacher in the class so I waited for him to go because I didn’t want to trouble Madam Principal again and now I’m here.’
This entire story had only succeeded in raising more questions about Jajanshu Mamanpade than it had answered. The most important ones were: how did he know Madam Principal? And: why was she so lenient with him when she’s known to be very strict when it comes to discipline? Maybe Jitsu would know something about it. I’d have asked him then but he’d already gone out. Jajanshu was kind of avoiding answering any questions about Madam Principal. On the other hand, he couldn’t stop talking about his father. Well, at least he had learnt that he would be taken to the principal’s office again if he interrupted another class.
I realised pretty quickly that I would go insane if I thought about him any more and I went with my tiffin to the seat next to Puna’s.
‘He has set a record for the shortest time someone’s taken to go to the principal’s office,’ Puna remarked.
‘Yeah. Not surprising. Even during the assembly, I had to tell him when to stand to attention and when to stand at ease,’ said Hagesh.
‘You mean the guy yelling out the commands wasn’t enough of a clue for him?’
‘I can’t say I approve of the man until I get to know his true character, brother Hagesh.’ So they were back on brotherly terms. That’s nice. What Ashukami meant by this was that he wouldn’t approve of Jajanshu until he got to know what his views were regarding the big GnT. If his views did align with Ashukami’s, all would be forgiven. Otherwise, he would try to convert him. Failing that, he would make snarky comments about him going to hell like he does for the rest of us. Tan is the only exception but only because he is so nice.
‘What I don’t understand,’ said Hagesh, ‘is why he talks about ol’ Princi like she’s his fairy godmother.’
The crowd around Jajanshu was thinning. He dismissed the rest of them and came towards me with his tiffin in hand. His tiffin, just like his bag, looked old and worn and had a picture of Chi Man on it.
‘Umiiiiitooooo!’ Oh God, is this what my days are going to be like from now on? ‘Are these your friends? Hi! I want to be your friend too. Except for you.’ He pointed to Tan Talaragi. Perhaps, this was the most surprising thing he had said until now.
‘Why don’t you want to be Tan’s friend, Jajanshu?’ I asked.
‘I can smell he’s evil. He was doing evil stuff on the floor in the morning too when I came to drop my bag.’
Ashukami laughed. ‘Oh, do not jest, brother Jajanshu. Brother Tan here, though he hasn’t yet sought the loving embrace of the big GnT, is a most capital fellow. He walks the path of righteousness as described in our faith, in action if not in name. If he be evil then we are all damned.’ Tan’s smile had not faltered. Yet he had not said a word. He’s actually quite lucky, if you think about it.
‘Hey, why do you talk so funny? What’s your name?’ Jajanshu had been successfully distracted.
‘My name is Ashukami Momokani. As for my manner of speech, it is the only proper way to speak, brother Jajanshu. This is the purest form of our language and I implore everyone to learn and to return—’
‘Hey, can I sit on that seat?’ Before anyone could answer, Jajanshu had sat down next to Hagesh. ‘Eh what does it matter it’s empty.’
Hagesh was amused. ‘Yeah, Jitsu sits here usually but he’s gone somewhere right now. Get up if he comes back. I’m Hagesh, by the way.’
‘Nice to meet you all! Except for you.’ He pointed to Tan again. ‘Who’s this Jitsu guy? Sounds cool. I’d like to be friends with him too.’
‘I’ll introduce you to him later,’ said Hagesh while scarfing down a parantha. ‘We gotta finish our food right now or there won’t be enough time to play hand cricket.’
‘Has this Jitsu guy gone to play hand cricket?’
‘No. He can’t play. He’s partially blind.’
‘Oh! Then I saw him in the morning. Dude with the sunglasses, right? Just like Madam Principal’s.’
‘Where did he go, though?’ Puna asked.
‘Maybe he’s meeting his new friend,’ Tan said.
‘What new friend?’
All eyes were on Tan Talaragi. ‘Um… I think I’ve misspoken. If anything, it’s presumptuous of me. Forget I said anything.’
‘Now we’ve got to know,’ Hagesh said.
‘I only caught a glimpse. Jajanshu-ji was walking ahead of me. He had a better view, probably.’
‘Hey, Jajanshu. Whom did you see the guy with the sunglasses with this morning?’ I asked.
‘Some girl. How would I know who it is, stupid? I’m new, remember?’
‘Are you sure it was a girl and not a boy who looks like a girl?’
‘Hahaha you’re funny, Umito. What kind of a boy looks like a girl?’ Your kind of a boy looks like a girl, Jajanshu. ‘And boys don’t have boobies, right?’ Well, some boys do. Rushil's are quite noticeable.
This was a very serious allegation. All of us had stopped eating. There would be no hand cricket today. We needed to come up with a strategy.
Hagesh began the meeting. The atmosphere grew tense and now it was Jajanshu’s turn to be confused.
‘Gentlemen, I ask you: How shall we punish Jitsu Satanetra for his crimes?’
Dear reader, you must be confused too. The thing is that the nerd group, or the Virginius Alliance as some people call it (mostly me), isn’t just a group of academically proficient students. There are other people in the class who get great marks too yet they don’t talk to us. I didn’t used to be a part of this group until a few months ago. I didn’t used to get good marks. What actually ties our group together is the determination of every member to not allow any of the other members to have girlfriends. We will do whatever it takes to keep each other from ever enjoying the joy of female company. It is an unspoken agreement among us and we all have our reasons for keeping to it. Ashukami, for example, believes that all premarital relations between men and women are unholy. Hagesh is too ugly and too bald and too short to be attractive to any self-respecting woman. And I simply want to exact revenge upon those who have had a hand in keeping the love of my life away from me.