Father discusses her future with the Headmistress.
It was early Sunday afternoon and the last day of half term when a red Contessa (an Indian built Vauxhall Victor) rolled up at the gates of St Hilda’s. It was the official car of Ranjit Kahn, Sarika’s father, returning Sarika to the school after her half-term break with her family. Edwina Smithfield saw the car, recalling the discussion she had with Mr Khan a week before, and was at the front door to greet them, inviting them to both come into her office.
Mr Khan happily agreed and, carrying his daughter’s small suitcase, walked through the wide arch with Mrs Smithfield on one side and his daughter on the other. Once in her office, the headmistress offered them tea, which was accepted, and, once served, there was a general discussion about the half-term and the coming exams.
Asked if she had enjoyed her week with her family, Sarika said that she was pleased to have spent some time with her parents and sisters. When asked whether she had done anything nice, Sarika explained. “Papa decided that I should be grounded for the whole week because of my smoking. So, I helped out in the house, and also managed to get a lot of revision done for my exams. It was nice being with the whole family when they came back from their outings, as I was allowed to join them in the evenings for whatever was being arranged once Papa had checked my work.”
“Mr Khan, we have every confidence that Sarika will do very well in her exams this summer and are soon going to have to decide what subjects she would like to take for her A-Levels. I am also pleased to be able to tell you that, apart from the one unfortunate incident, Sarika has done so well that we are looking to make her a prefect next term. We will be making the announcements tomorrow. I know she will be in a year lower than the other prefects, but it will give some continuity and the possibility for Sarika to become Head Girl or Deputy Head in her final year if all goes well.”
“Mrs Smithfield, that is all most gratifying, but we will have to see. I was notified this week that my appointment in London has been extended for at least another two years, so the family will not have to relocate. I must say, however, that we had to seriously consider whether, following what happened, St Hilda’s was the right place for Sarika, or if she needed to be where we could keep a more careful eye on her.
“Sarika very much wishes to complete her education here and I have told her that, providing she achieves her predicted grades and provided that there are no more instances of misbehaviour, she may remain at St Hilda’s next term. But this is her final chance. Sarika wants to study law at university; we think therefore we should look at English, History, French and Mathematics at A-level. Finally, because of the long drive, I did not punish Sarika before we left this morning, so I would ask you for the loan of your paddle please. Sarika, bend over and touch your toes!”
The lovely young lady immediately stood and bent as instructed.
“Mr Khan, are you sure this is really necessary? Sarika has been exceptionally well behaved. Please reconsider.”
“Mrs Smithfield, when we got home Sarika and I discussed her behaviour and I informed her she would be paddled every day during the half term, and I am a man of my word. I need to make sure that Sarika does not want to ‘just try’ anything else that is forbidden. If you do not agree, I will have my daughter pack and leave St Hilda’s today for good.”
Sarika stood briefly. “Mrs Smithfield, please! I couldn’t bear to leave St Hilda’s and not sit my exams. I love it here and I want to make you proud of me. I was naughty and it is right that I accept whatever punishment dear Papa thinks is fitting. Please help me stay.” She then bent over again.
The Headmistress stood and retrieved the plimsole from the bottom drawer of her desk.
“Mr Khan, I am afraid that we do not use a paddle here, but this slipper instead.” She deliberately did not offer the cane as an alternative.
“Very well, Mrs Smithfield, I suppose it will have to do. Sarika, I am going to give you eight strokes. Count them.”
Ranjit Khan, fifty-two years old, of medium height and stocky build, with greying hair, looked at the bent-over figure of his eldest, and favourite, daughter and took position to her left.
“I am doing this because I love you and for your own good. There are many temptations that you must learn to resist if you are to achieve your potential as a fine young lady.”
“I know Papa, I understand, and I love you too.”
The Plimsole was raised and brought smartly down on Sarika’s left cheek.
“Ow! One, thank you Papa.”
The lovely young lady maintained her position and, with determination, greeted each stinging impact on her bottom with the same quiet and polite response until the last stroke landed.
“OUCH! Eight, thank you Papa.”
She remained bent over until instructed to rise. When she did so, she turned to her father and, as they hugged each other, she kissed him.
“Thank you, Papa. I will make you proud of me; I promise.”
“I already am, Sarika, but no slacking and be a good girl. Now, good-bye and I will see you at the end of term.” He gently kissed her forehead. Then, turning to Mrs Smithfield, he handed her back the plimsole, shook her hand and said, “Goodbye, Mrs Smithfield and thank you.”
With that, he left the office, got back in his car, and waved to his daughter and her headmistress as they stood on the steps.
Edwina Smithfield put her arm around a dewy-eyed Sarika, who had just dared to start rubbing her stinging bottom.
“I am so sorry, my dear, my efforts to encourage leniency appear to have badly backfired.”
“Papa had been told that you had caned me but, when we got home, he decided to give me a spanking to express his displeasure. He put me over his knee and told me to unbutton my trousers so he could take them down. When he did so, he saw there was only one very faint cane mark from the single stroke you had given me. He decided that, as I had got off so lightly at school, I should be paddled every day during half-term and grounded.
“He had arranged a wonderful week of activities for both my sisters and I as a reward for application and good behaviour and as a break from study, but felt that I no longer deserved them. Still, I did get to spend a happy time with my sisters and my parents and got lots of revision done, so it may even have been for the best. If I do well next year, my twin sisters are hoping to join the fourth form here when I am in the upper sixth. Papa really likes St Hilda’s. May I now go and unpack before dinner, please Mrs Smithfield?”
“Of course, Sarika. Go and see Miss Knight-Brewer after dinner and arrange for her to go through any additional coaching you may need, in any subject, so that we can see you have all the help you need. Oh, and Sarika?”
“Yes, Mrs Smithfield.”
“Stay out of trouble, please. I don’t want to lose you.”
“Yes, Mrs Smithfield, and thank you.”
© Capstan 2021