Seven-year-old Prerna Rani bolted towards classroom number 2-A on Friday morning, sat on the third bench, and put her bag on the adjacent seat. She was saving the seat for Pradyuman Thakur, her ‘seatmate’. Rani kept waiting until the loudspeakers boomed, asking students to gather at the reception for the morning routine of the Lord’s prayer and Bible reading.
When she returned to her class, Pradyuman was nowhere to be found. “We all kept talking among ourselves about him. We keep rotating our seats and I wanted to sit with him,” Rani said. A few minutes later, Pradyuman’s bloodstained bag arrived.
“An aunty kept it near the dustbin. There was a lot of blood on the bag. The aunty asked Shambhavi to take out his diary and Naman was asked to take out the bottle (from the bag). The aunty left with his diary. They gave them (the students) a hand sanitiser because blood was stuck to their hands,” she said.
The first period commenced, and the sports teacher entered the classroom and started taking the English class. “We were taught fill in the blanks and new words. His bag stayed near the dustbin,” said another batchmate, whose parents did not want him named.
At one point, Rani started to inquire into Pradyuman’s whereabouts. “We used to play hide and seek a lot. He used to hide like a cat under the table, the corridors and the back of the classroom. I thought he would come for Sarvesh’s birthday (on Friday). We celebrated his birthday with toffees. Pradyuman was the only one whose birthday was in the month of May. He used to share his food and games with me only,” Rani said.
In the second period, the sports teacher instructed the children to ‘sit with their heads down’. “Teachers ask children to relax during this session. By the time, of course, the boy had been killed. Several of his batchmates liked the boy. He was a good skater and would get near perfect scores. We are at a loss… our daughter will not find another batchmate like him,” said Sweety Rani, Prerna’s mother.
As students kept their heads glued to their desks, another announcement was made. “They said Pradyuman had slipped and fallen inside the bathroom. My dance teacher, Nilanjana ma’am, took us out of the classroom,” she said, adding, “They left his bag behind.”