It was the year 2006 and our 12th board exams were nearing. We were taking tuitions for our weakest subject and the strongest enemy, Mathematics. We had to ride about 4 km daily on our bicycles for the tuition.
The environment of the house used to be deadly strict those days. Our parents would leave no chance to remind us that we were supposed to study hard for the board exams. We, on the other hand, were as careless as we had always been. Due to this strict attitude of our parents, we used to be reluctant to stay home and would try to spend as much time as we could outside just to have some more time to stay away from books and enjoy. I and my friend, Vinesh (a.k.a. Vinna) used to live in neighboring areas (or sectors, as they are called in my hometown). So we would always go to tuition and come back together on our bicycles.
We would reach an hour or more before the scheduled time and come back late as well just to kill as much time as we could outside the danger zone, that were our homes. As an added benefit, our parents would think that we were devoting extra time to Maths as it was a difficult one. We were not given mobile phones by then, which was a big relief in itself.
There was a railroad crossing on our way that was famous for being almost always closed for vehicles due to the high frequency of trains on that route (now, they have constructed an over-bridge on it).
However, as can be easily expected from impatient Indians like us, everybody and everything excluding cars and other heavy vehicles would usually pass through from under the post with a little hassle even when it was closed. So there was no problem for any kind of two-wheeler vehicle to cross it under any circumstances.
On our way back home, we used to stop our bicycles at the crossing and look at the trains passing by. We would debate on the estimated speed of the train passing by. When one train would pass and the post open, instead of crossing the railroad, we would decide to wait for one more train so that we could have more time for our important discussion over train speeds and so on until at least 4 to 5 trains would pass. That was a really great pastime for us and we just loved doing it every day religiously.
One day, we sort of overdid it and were way too late before we could reach home. It was already dark and there was no way that our parents would believe that we studied for so long. I reached home at about 8 o'clock and my parents asked the obvious question as soon as they saw my face. For some reason, I wasn't already prepared for this. So when they asked me why I was late, I told them the first thing that came to my mind.
"The railroad crossing post was closed for too long. Even between the trains, they didn't open it. That's why I am so late."
My parents seemed to buy it and I thought I successfully evaded the consequences. Next day, while we were going for the tuition, I boasted about my presence of mind to Vinesh and explained to him how I made this quick excuse the night before. I hadn't even finished telling him before he suddenly pointed out to me, "We were on bicycles, you idiot. We could have crossed the post even if it had been closed for real. Why would we just wait and watch the trains?"
I realized my stupidity and was stunned that my parents didn't notice this flaw in my lame excuse either, or maybe they knew and still decided to ignore it, thankfully. We laughed and laughed at my foolish act until our stomachs started to ache. To this day, whenever we talk about this incident, we can't stop laughing.
Those really were the days!
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