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Hackschool Project # 23 The tutor trick

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By Iqra Asad
Fri, 11, 19

That’s not what group study means!” Jasir threw his hands up in protest. “Group study means hanging out. It doesn’t mean actually studying.....

Last episode, we saw the Moin family go through final exam season. Now summer holidays have properly begun, with only two things to spoil the fun. One, there will be another Bad News Day (as in, Result Day) when the exam results come in. Two, Leena has arranged to take Jasir out of pre-Matric preparation classes at the academy, but not in the way he thought she would.

“Now you can have your friendly group study at home with the tutor and your friend who, by the way, is getting a deluxe tuition package along with you,” Leena said.

“That’s not what group study means!” Jasir threw his hands up in protest. “Group study means hanging out. It doesn’t mean actually studying.”

“You should have thought of that before you got me to get you out of summer holiday academy class,” Leena said.

“I didn’t know you would do that to your own brother.” Jasir shuddered.

“Make him actually study? Oh dear, the worst thing that could possibly happen to you.” Leena shook her head.

“I can’t tell if you’re joking or not,” Jasir said seriously. Leena just shooed him away.

********

“I’m so glad you’re here.” Jasir opened the front door to let his friend Awais come in. “Now I don’t have to go through this alone.”

Awais rolled his eyes. “Forget about that. Show me that computer game you were talking about.” The two of them rushed to the computer table, where Inaya was clicking away at top speed.

“Hey, it’s my turn.” Jasir grabbed the mouse, but dragged Inaya’s hand along with it.

“Give it back, it’s my turn.” Inaya tugged harder, pulling at the tangle of their hands around the mouse. “We’re back to the old turn schedule after exams ended.”

Jasir threw his hands in the air. Awais tugged his shirt sleeve. “We’ve only got fifteen minutes to burn before the tutor guy gets here,” he said.

“Nice to meet you, too, Awais,” Inaya said, placing the mouse back and resuming her quick clicking.

“Let’s go to the TV,” Jasir said, hurrying Awais along. The two of them had just started going through the channels when Mama entered with the declaration, “What are you two doing? You should get ready for your tutor.”

“We’re right here.” Jasir patted the arm of the sofa, not taking his eyes off the TV screen.

“We’ll go straight to the drawing room when he gets here,” Awais added.

“Where are your notebooks? Your pens? Your school bags?” Mama threw her hands in the air in the way Jasir did when he was overcome with emotion. “Your teacher is going to be here and you are just going to sit there and look at his face?”

Jasir opened his mouth to respond but Awais got his words in first. “I dropped our stuff in the drawing room when I came in,” he said smoothly. Jasir shot him a sideways glance. “You know I took your academy things home with me last time to copy something I missed,” he added, looking hard at Jasir, who suddenly straightened his expression to match the cool one on Awais’s face.

“Aren’t you going to make him something to drink?” Mama continued. “You’re just going to bring him in and not offer him anything?”

Jasir stared at her. “Why are you rolling out the red carpet, Mama?”

Mama stared back at him. “Just because he’s coming to your home to teach you doesn’t mean you treat him any less than your teachers at school or academy,” she said. “Now get up and don’t waste any more time.”

Jasir jabbed Awais in the arm with his elbow. “Come on. You’re not going to watch TV while I’m stuck spoiling this old guy.”

Awais just grinned and got up to follow Jasir into the kitchen without comment. Once they were there, a look of understanding passed between them. Awais got a glass of water while Jasir pulled out mango drink mix, salt and pepper. They turned around to face each other and looked at what the other person had in his hands.

“How much do you think you’re going to shock him with a salty and peppery mango drink?” Awais asked.

“I want to start small,” Jasir answered. “If we scare him off the first day, they will just replace him with someone else.”

“So you want to keep doing little things until he’s had enough.” Awais looked thoughtfully at the glass of water.

“What earth-shattering thing were you going to do with a glass of plain water?” Jasir asked.

Awais grinned widely. “You think too small, Jasir. I was going to set this up to slip and spill all over him.”

“Wow.” Jasir looked down at the salt and pepper, then back at the glass of water. “This is why we’re friends.”

********

Mama told Jasir to open the front gate when the doorbell rang. He went out expecting to meet someone his father’s age. When he opened the gate and saw someone much younger than expected, he stared at him.

“Oh, you’ve got the wrong house,” Jasir said. “I opened the door because I was expecting someone else.”

“Is this the Moin house?” the person asked.

“I already answered your question before you asked it,” Jasir said without listening, shutting the gate in his face. He turned around to head back inside, only to meet Leena coming out the front door at full speed.

“Let him in,” she said, pushing past Jasir to open the front gate. “Please come in. My little brother made a mistake. Jasir, this is your tutor, Aqeel.”

Jasir looked him up and down and then looked back at Leena. “This guy?”

“Jasir,” Leena said warningly.

“He can’t be much older than you,” Jasir said.

“He’s in college, so of course he wouldn’t be,” Leena said. “Come on, let’s have the rest of this conversation inside.” The three of them went in, led by Leena to the drawing room, where Awais sat at the table ready with his notebook and pen in front of him. Jasir shot him a look over Aqeel’s shoulder. Awais shot up to greet Aqeel and Leena settled them all at the table.

“Aqeel is busy finishing up his college degree,” she said. “He has spent the past few years teaching school kids wanting to ace their board exams, and has had great success. I want you two to be added to his list of top board scorers, OK? Work hard.” She returned Jasir’s look of complaint with a smile and left the room. Awais adopted a look of seriousness. Jasir did not bother to pretend to be interested, but looked around for the trick glass of water Awais had set up for their tutor, only to see Aqeel in the middle of safely removing it from the table. He had lifted it in the opposite direction from the elastic band Awais had set up to pull it off the table. He had even removed a piece of tape from the table that Awais had stuck there for unknown purposes. With the field clear, Aqeel lectured them about exam taking without mentioning the trick items he had removed. Even Awais had stopped pretending to look interested. He and Jasir sat with glum looks on their faces, studying Aqeel’s potential threat levels instead of listening to what he was saying. By the time the uneventful tutoring session had ended and the two friends had received far more home instruction than they had planned that day, both of them were full to bursting with impatience. They finally shut the door after Aqeel left. Awais sighed. Jasir shook his head sadly.

“This is bad,” Jasir said.

Awais nodded. “We’ve got someone who knows how to deal with us,” he said. “The fact that he removed even the piece of tape I stuck there as a test shows that he doesn’t miss anything and isn’t afraid to show it.”

“What are we going to do?” they said at the same time.

How will Jasir and Awais deal with the tutor who knows how to deal with them? Find out in the next episode of Hackschool Project.