Chapter 13:

The Tsundere Catgirl's Challenge

The Mildpowered Virgins of Novylion High

‘Don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone. I know it might be a sensitive subject for you. Well, it’s time to part ways. I’ll see you again tomorrow.’Bookmark here

And he jogged away, hands still in the air.Bookmark here

⁎ ⁎ ⁎ Bookmark here

The next day, he was harassing me again. Using my guṇa again was a headache.Bookmark here

‘Hullo!’Bookmark here

‘Have you told anyone?’ Bookmark here

‘No. Of course not.’Bookmark here

‘Good. Because if you do, I’ll poison you and chop up your body into little pieces. And I’ll bury those little pieces under a mountain where they won’t be found for a thousand years. When future archaeologists dig them up, they’ll be very confused and, possibly, terrified.’Bookmark here

‘At least I’ll get to be in a museum.’Bookmark here

‘Does that mean you’re thinking about telling someone?’Bookmark here

‘Heavens no. I’m not that kind of guy. I’m not like Rushil, you know. My words aren’t mushroom sperm.’Bookmark here

‘Mushrooms release spores. And don’t utter profanity in front of me. I think that way of speaking is vile.’Bookmark here

‘So are you saying that as long as I don’t say bad words in front of you, you’ll let me talk to you?’Bookmark here

‘I never said that! Get away from me or I’ll scream. And don’t insult Rushil in front of me. He’s a good friend of mine.’Bookmark here

‘But only a friend, right?’Bookmark here

‘Obviously.’Bookmark here

‘Nothing more?’Bookmark here

‘Absolutely not. I do not have space for such things in my life. And even if or when I do, the suitor will have to be worthy of me.’Bookmark here

‘That goes without saying. But do you have space for another friend?’Bookmark here

‘I’ll never consider you my friend. I don’t even want to be seen standing next to you. So get lost!’Bookmark here

‘Alright. I’ll let you sleep on it. Maybe when your mind’s rested, it’ll expand and make room for someone else. Maybe a friend. Maybe someone more than a friend.’Bookmark here

‘How dare you utter such brash words?’Bookmark here

‘Ha ha ha. I don’t know why I said it either. I think I just love the feeling of danger.’Bookmark here

‘You have precisely zero good qualities, Puna Maiwal.’Bookmark here

‘I do have one good quality. I’m keeping your secret without any expectation of reward.’Bookmark here

‘And so you’re punishing me by talking to me? And deriving pleasure from it? Are you one of those sadists that all the girls keep talking about?’Bookmark here

‘Girls like sadists?’Bookmark here

‘No! And don’t feel all high and mighty just because you managed to maintain the minimum level of human decency. And don’t ever think about threatening me with my secret. If you reveal it to the school authorities, it’ll only reflect unfavourably on you. Not me. I am not scared of being expelled from this school for something that is not my fault. I will find a way to recover and achieve even greater heights.’Bookmark here

‘If you weren’t scared of being expelled at all, you wouldn’t be hiding your ears. Food for thought. Bye.’Bookmark here

And he ran away before I could physically hurt him.Bookmark here

⁎ ⁎ ⁎ Bookmark here

On the third day, he was even more inappropriate.Bookmark here

‘Hi again.’Bookmark here

‘Does the blood from your heart not reach your brain because you are so tall? Or is it all used up in raising your hands?’Bookmark here

‘I’ve changed my mind. You should be a sushi chef, not a surgeon.’Bookmark here

‘What do you want?’Bookmark here

‘I wanted to ask: are those cat ears or dog ears?’Bookmark here

I could hardly stop myself from strangling him at that very moment. Unfortunately, I did manage to calm down.Bookmark here

‘You vow-breaking oaf! You said you wouldn’t tell anyone.’Bookmark here

‘I didn’t know that included you. I didn’t tell anyone else if that’s what you’re concerned about.’Bookmark here

‘They’re dog ears.’Bookmark here

‘They look like cat ears to me. I’ve never seen ears like that on a dog.’Bookmark here

‘Then why did you bother to ask?’Bookmark here

‘I just wanted to confirm it.’Bookmark here

‘So you possess no resolve either. I do not need to see the depths that mankind can sink to to feel better about myself. Stop following me.’Bookmark here

‘You talk about mankind as if you were separate from it.’Bookmark here

‘I am part of it. Yet above it. Any other questions?’Bookmark here

‘Yes, I—’Bookmark here

‘I don’t care. Leave.’Bookmark here

‘That kind of attitude is certainly more akin to that of a cat than that of a dog.’Bookmark here

‘Make as many idiotic inferences as you want. Just don’t speak in front of me.’Bookmark here

‘It’s surprising that you hang out with Rushil all the time. You, who’s so reserved and unconcerned with the rest of humanity. And he, who sticks his nose into everybody’s business like a dog sticks his—’Bookmark here

‘I know the rest of that simile and I do not want to hear such an obscene phrase. I already told you that I will murder you in cold blood if you talk like that within my earshot.’Bookmark here

‘But you have heard the rest of that phrase somewhere. So you have been around people who don’t talk as formally as you do.’Bookmark here

‘Unlike pampered rich kids such as yourself who’ve never experienced hardship and think that it’s cool to adopt the manner of speaking practised in the slums, I’m someone who’s actually lived there. And there’s nothing cool about that world. It is filled with woe, desperation and savagery. The average person who lives in that situation never does anything meaningful to try to get out of it. He only spins pipe dreams that never come to fruition and he curses his family and the entire world for his misfortune. I saw quite a few men and women like that when I was there and their speech was littered with words so vulgar and obscene that you can’t even imagine them in your puny life. I could tell immediately who was serious about getting out of the slum and who was destined to spread its poison for generations to come just by the number of curse words in that particular person’s vocabulary. Swearing is the tool of a weak man who has no ambition. You share that vice with those lowlifes in the slum. And if you keep up and propagate this behaviour then if not you, your children or maybe your grandchildren will end up living alongside said lowlifes someday. I am lucky that my father and grandfather had the determination to move up in society and took responsibility for their own destinies. And I bear the burden of their hard work. I cannot disappoint them in the slightest.’Bookmark here

‘……’Bookmark here

‘It is all too clear to me what your intentions are. Forcibly conversing with me every day and putting down Rushil, my only male friend – you’re not the first one to try such tricks and I know you won’t be the last one. But most men have the decency to take the hint and they leave me alone. You don’t; so let me make it clear for you. I will only ever, if at all, recognise a man as a suitor worthy of consideration if he: adheres to strict standards of propriety, plans ahead, has clear goals, depends on nothing but his own talents and abilities to achieve them and is from a respectable family with a legacy that he has the capability to carry, or, failing that, the capability to establish a legacy of his own. And you don’t fit the bill on any of those counts. So stop wasting my time. I do not care what you do with yours.’Bookmark here

‘……’Bookmark here

This time, I walked away from him.Bookmark here

⁎ ⁎ ⁎Bookmark here

‘I don’t think you understood any of the words I said to you yesterday,’ I said to him as he hobbled up to me for the fourth time.Bookmark here

‘I have a proposition.’Bookmark here

‘I do not want to hear it.’Bookmark here

‘I really did listen to your words carefully. And I decided to change my life. I always thought that my swearing was a result of my environment.’Bookmark here

‘Your environment?’Bookmark here

‘The badminton team. They’re really nasty. But listening to your experience made me realise that I was wrong to blame my environment. It really made me aware of all the privileges I have. I understand now that to swear or not was always my decision and no one else’s. I won’t lie. I do want to be a suitor worthy of your consideration. Your criteria of entry are very strict but the least I can do – as a start – is stop saying bad words. If I can do that, will you allow me to talk to you?’Bookmark here

‘I don’t think you can do it. But if you can achieve it then I will perhaps think about allowing you to become an acquaintance of mine.’Bookmark here

‘That is all I needed to hear.’Bookmark here

‘Wait. The terms of this agreement are not the same as the one you proposed the day before yesterday. I won’t consider it a success unless you stop swearing altogether, not just in front of me.’Bookmark here

‘That might be a little difficult. And I don’t think I can quit cold turkey but I’ll do my best. I won’t disappoint you.’Bookmark here

‘Don’t even think about cheating. I’ll be observing you. And I have very sharp ears.’Bookmark here

He smiled. ‘Of course.’Bookmark here

‘Best of luck.’Bookmark here

We went our separate ways again. I was optimistic. If this man can turn his life around bit by bit because of me, I will have done the world a great service.Bookmark here

But I was proven wrong three hours later. The new imbecilic transfer student had made friends with Puna Maiwal’s group. Associating with such a person was worth a penalty. In fact, I’m disgusted that the quality of students admitted to our school has dropped so low. The very fact of his enrolment into the school spits upon the hard-earned money my father spends on my fee, which is exorbitant, even after the two scholarships I receive for excelling in sports and academics.Bookmark here

Puna Maiwal, Umito Dishahara, Hagesh Malumaru, Tan Talaragi, Ashukami Momokani and the transfer student were all sitting together during recess. I was listening to them intently to catch Puna making a mistake. I couldn’t hear too clearly but I understood that they were talking about Jitsu Satanetra. Bookmark here

A Satanetra being the principal of the school is one of the major factors that helped me decide to aim for it. The Satanetras, much like the Nekoraktas, were persecuted by Archemperor Axgott and were cast away by their own people. In their heyday, the family had given rise to great men and women who had made invaluable contributions to the development of our country’s philosophical tradition. In the past one hundred and fifty years, however, they had suddenly re-emerged, this time as merchants of upstanding reputation. They were en route to reclaiming their lost status when all was ruined by Jitsu’s mother, who was born to a commonblood father. Jitsu himself was born out of wedlock.Bookmark here

Nonetheless, it is a great honour to be in the same class as someone belonging to a family with a deep history. And in the time I’ve observed him, he hasn’t done anything to sully his family’s reputation. He, like me, carries a great burden. Of reviving and revitalising an entire clan, in addition to his own personal goals. I admire him for it. He is the only boy in this school that I’ve met that I have respect for. I believe he has what it takes to become the Head Boy (when the time comes, obviously). And I will be by his side, as Head Girl.Bookmark here

But even he was faltering, according to what the transfer student was saying. If he could be believed, that is. He said that he had seen Jitsu talking to a junior of ours and Hagesh Malumaru had accused him of having the intent of fornicating with her. The discussion then devolved into meaningless chatter until Puna Maiwal suddenly shouted a curse word and they all shut up. Bookmark here

But he had failed my test. And there was nothing else that I needed to listen to. So I stopped eavesdropping and finished my food and went for a walk.Bookmark here

⁎ ⁎ ⁎ Bookmark here

The next day:Bookmark here

‘I’m sorry.’Bookmark here

‘Don’t come near me. I heard you swear during recess yesterday. You’ve failed as a human being. Forget you ever talked to me. I’ve already forgotten who you are.’Bookmark here

‘I know I messed up. And I know you heard it. And there is no excuse for it. But I’ve made amends since then. And this time I’m confident that I can keep it up for a week at the least. And I’ve made sure that I cannot cheat. Or I’ll suffer devastating consequences.’Bookmark here

‘You couldn’t even last three hours yesterday. How will you last seven days?’Bookmark here

‘Do you know Ashukami Momokani?’Bookmark here

‘Yes.’Bookmark here

‘I’m keeping a secret for you so I trust you’ll keep one for me. Don’t ever say this to anyone. A demonic bear resides inside Ashukami.’Bookmark here

I froze in my tracks. The Bear and the Cat in the same class. This was more than just a coincidence. What had led to this chain of events? And what did it mean for the future? For the first time in a long time, I was truly, utterly scared. Bookmark here

‘Choose your words carefully, Puna Maiwal. The Bear is not to be taken lightly. Do not mention him so casually. Don’t joke about the Bear. It can be deadly.’Bookmark here

‘I am not joking. Yesterday, in the evening, I met the Bear, although I do not remember it. And I had him place a curse on me. If I swear even once during the next seven days, I will have to call every female teacher in our school “mommy” for a year.’Bookmark here

‘You idiot! Dolt! Fool! Duffer! Ignoramus! Is nothing sacred to you? You blaspheme the Universe and the natural order of things. Do you think a curse is a childish game? I have had experience with these things and it never goes well. My whole family has suffered for thousands of years because of it. And… something so insulting to the immense powers of the Bear! How could you? Calling female teachers “mommy”… Are you out of your mind? Take me to Ashukami and we’ll find a way to resolve this. This is so irresponsible. You’ll die otherwise. And it won’t be pleasant.’Bookmark here

‘I won’t die. If I were going to die, I would have died yesterday. Ashukami wouldn’t have agreed to help me in this way if he had doubts about the safety of the procedure. The Bear has been constrained by the Talbot Corps. It cannot harm mortals anymore. Still, some risks were involved and I was aware of them. But what’s been done has been done. I wanted to show you my resolve. The lengths to which I’m willing to go to to fulfil my promise to you. The lengths to which I’m willing to go to for you.’Bookmark here

I couldn’t look at his face for another second. I ran away and I had tears in my eyes. That dimwit might die and it’ll be my fault. I stopped crying by the time I reached the changing room but I couldn’t get him out of my head. The fool. The fool. Bookmark here

But as soon as I reached the classroom, my outlook changed suddenly. I cannot explain it. It was as if someone had cast an evil spell on me. I started seeing his positive points. His sense of humour, his courage and his seemingly genuine feelings towards me. He was right about one thing. None of the boys who had approached me so far had done something so crazy and so reckless. Maybe, just maybe, he had a chance of succeeding this time. Maybe he could stay clean for an entire week.Bookmark here

In class, when I was sitting in my seat next to Rushil, out of the blue, he came to me and asked me, ‘Can I sit next to you today, Pushpako?’Bookmark here

He's so bold! And he wasn't avoiding Rushil now. He was taking responsibility. Well, if he sits next to me, I won't have to spend any energy in observing him. I think I could let him sit next to me. My presence would scare the thought of cursing out of him. Maybe, just maybe, he had a chance of succeeding this time. Maybe he could stay clean for an entire week.Bookmark here

Little did I know then that he’d fail to even break his previous record of three hours. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.