Swiping his perspiring forehead, Rohan nervously pressed ‘Enter’.
‘Access Granted’ flashed on the screen. He let out a sigh and proceeded to finish the task at hand. A whirring noise broke the eerie silence in the laboratory, as the four pages with the test questions inked across them, slipped out of the printer.
Clutching the valuable contents, he hurried cautiously across the lawns on way to his dorm.
The authorities had been alarmed of the leak five days ago and several students were being questioned. The rumor had it that the perpetrator was an outsider; a certain friend of a student and the authorities now had narrowed the list of suspects to only a handful of students.
Shaken by the rumors, Rohan paced his way to the dorm, recounting the fateful day. It was almost a month back when Rohan and Sameer were, as usual on a Sunday evening, competing in a game of pool. The discussion had veered towards the last term at school and the uneasy possibility of Sameer not being able make the pass grade in the ‘Data Analysis’ class.
Surprising Rohan, Sameer had suggested the idea of burrowing into Mr. Daman’s machine to sneak out the test paper. The idea seemed outrageous at first; however, in the ensuing days, Sameer had managed to convince Rohan, who was the sole trust-worthy person to perform the geeky felony. It would forge their friendship forever, Sameer had persuaded.
Now reflecting back, Rohan cringed uncomfortably at his own idiocy. Cursing those senseless moments under his breath, he realized the terrible repercussions of being caught. The dogged effort put in during the four years at school would come to naught. There had to be a way to escape.
Practically running into the dorm, the squinting eyes of the gatekeeper followed him.
“Hello there young man,” cried the gatekeeper, as Rohan’s heart skipped a beat before he abruptly stopped in his footsteps.
“I have a notice for you. The Dean would like to see you first thing tomorrow morning”
Rohan grabbed the notice and walked away.
The fuzzy late-night thoughts failed to comprehend the sword of dilemma faced by him. He had been a good student – diligent and hardworking. His passion for technology pushed him forward, though it was his friends and good times at school that he cherished most. However, carrying a tainted reputation without a graduate degree, even family and friends would distance themselves, and life would become hell. How could he save his own skin was the only question in mind.
The cluttered mind tried to retrace those dark moments. As planned, he had used Sameer’s login to sneak out the papers and there was practically no trace of his own involvement. Could he betray his friendship and portray Sameer as the miscreant, the sole doer of the crime?
The squall of disturbing thoughts swarming his mind never subsided. He uneasily slunk in and out of sleep when a loud bang on the door woke him up. It was time.
With a muddled mind but prepared to twist his way out of trouble, Rohan ambled into the office of the Dean. He softly knocked on the door.
“Come in,” a firm voice called him inside.
A bead of sweat trickled down as he greeted the Dean, “Good morning, Mr. Sen”
“Oh, good morning, Rohan,” exclaimed the Dean, “thanks for coming in.”
Rohan was taken aback by the pleasant tone as the Dean continued, “I am sorry. Your name had come up during the inquiry; however, it’s now over. Sameer has confessed.”
“Right! Sameer came into my office earlier in the morning to confess his guilt and informed us that there was no one else involved whatsoever.”
A tear rolled down his face.