Three

The bell rings. Pens race across papers as students correct last-minute errors. Papers shuffle. Students sigh, either with relief or regret. Mr Kajee, invigilator of row one in the examination hall, strides swiftly down the line of students, collecting papers. “You all may leave now.” he says, once all the papers have been handed in. The previous formal silence is quickly replaced with the sound of chairs scraping across the shiny black tiles as everyone gathers their things and heads out towards the cafeteria.

I take my seat at our usual table and wait for the rest of the squad. Somehow I always end up getting out of the hall before the others. As I unwrap my sandwich I spot Sumayya in the sea of students. I can’t but help grin to myself as I watch her struggle through the crowd of bigger children. With her size she could pass as a Grade 7 learner! She finally makes it the table and flops down on the bench.

“Phew,” she breathes out before smiling up at me. “How did the paper go?” she asks.

“It actually wasn’t too bad,” I reply.

Suddenly, without warning, someone snatches my sandwich from my hand. I don’t even have to turn around to know who the culprit is.

“Zee give that back!” I try grabbing it from him but he’s too fast. He is already at the other side of the table, only quarter of my half sandwich remaining. From the corner of my eye I spot Amaani walking over. She’s reaching into her bag for something, trying hard not to laugh. Having finished half of my sandwich, Zee attempts stealing some of Sumayya’s.

That kid isn’t having any of that though. Before Zee can register what is happening, Sumayya has emptied her bottle of water down his neck!

“Heyyy!” he complains.

“Serves you right!” says Sumayya.

Just as he sits down, Amaani comes from the back, winks at me and dunks another whole bottle of water on his head!

“Are you stealing their lunch again?” she asks.

“I’m not stealing it, I’m just eating it without permission.” he replies innocently. His soaking wet clothes doesn’t bother him in the least and that’s the cool thing about Zee. He is so chilled!

I roll my eyes. “That’s called stealing, since you didn’t know.” I say.

“But you said sharing is caring,” he whines.

“Oh my god Zee, you are so immature!” groans Sumayya.

“Says the one who threw a whole bottle of water at me 2 seconds ago,” he fires back, smirking.

“Oh just shush you guys! How was the paper?”

That’s Amaani taking the motherly role once again. Rameez joins us soon and together we devour our lunches.

10 minutes later the bell rings, signalling the start of classes till 1:00 pm. Then it’s time to go home and study for the next day. But it’s much easier said than done..

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