Thursday, August 31, 2006


I woke up listening to the Suprabhatam played in a deafening tone from the temple next street. For sometime, I kept wondering why they do so, making it almost impossible to sleep in the early morning hours. I kept complaining to myself, giving all the crazy reasons for why such things should be discouraged. This didn’t continue for long, until I was fed-up and my thoughts drifted to something else. After a glance into a plethora of events from the past, finally my thoughts got trapped in those days when I was in school.

Having flunked in biology, my class teacher wanted to meet my parents. Having said this, let’s go to the flashback of this flashback to see what had actually happened.

July 1996, I was in class 11th. The long summer vacation had just got over a couple of weeks back. The spirits were high, not much of schoolwork and still feeling swell about being a senior in the school. As always, the joy was never to last long. One of those days, our biology teacher, who happened to be our class teacher too, walked into the class in almost slow motion with a mischievous smile on her face. I knew something terrible was in store for the whole class. And so it was. At a snail pace, she walked towards the black board and in infinitesimally small letters she wrote, “Surprise Test”. I sat in my seat, paralyzed, dazed and confused. It was the first test of the academic year and by all means, I couldn’t afford to do badly. The worst part being that I had already bunked a couple of classes and had not been revising whatever was taught until now. The *budhi jeevis of the class gleefully started staring at each other as if someone had opened a box of chocolates and they are about to get a good share of it.

By the grace of god, the test was not all that tricky. There were 10 questions for which one-word answers had to be given. I managed to get 7 out of 10. All puffed up, I literally went about asking everyone how much they had scored. Not that I was interested, I just wanted them to know how much I scored even after fooling around all the time. On the other hand, if I had scored badly, I would’ve confined myself to one of the corners of the class.

A couple of weeks passed, we had our first term unit tests. Results were out the following week. My score in biology was 7 again, only difference being that it was out of 35 this time. Nevermind, I thought to myself. There is always a next time. I quickly moved to one of the corners, away from the teacher’s table, avoiding any eye contact to ensure nobody asked my score. Guess what? There was already a gang of losers there in the corner, discussing their woes to each other. Not so surprisingly, all my best friends were in there. Softly I asked one of them, “how much?” he looked at me in misery and showed his 3 little fingers. I paused for a while and couldn’t control my smile. Oh boy! He sure might’ve felt bad. To me, it was a big relief to know that I am not the lowest in the class, I asked the rest of the folks, they were all + or – 2 marks from mine. I thought, atleast I am an average loser, not the one who fails miserably.

Couple of weeks later, we had our quarterly exams. The results came and I was still rock solid on 7. Infact a little improvement, it was 7 and a half. But the awful part was that, this time it was out of 70. Following this, I had to confront with the inevitable wrath of my biology teacher as well as my parents. My biology teacher was totally annoyed with me because I did well in all the other subjects. She thought I was ignoring her subject and wanted to complain about this to my parents.

Finally the ‘D’ day had arrived. I had succeeded in convincing my mom to come to the school. I pleaded her to come alone and not to accompany any of our relatives. I was scared of the fact that everyone in my relations would know about it and each one would bombard me with their excruciating lectures. I woke up early and was getting ready for temple. Not something I did quite often, unless things are going real bad. Nevertheless I went and prayed so that the day went well.

For the entire morning hours, I couldn’t stop thinking of my dreadful meeting with the class teacher. Finally, at about 2 in the afternoon, the peon who usually takes care of the principal’s office, walked into our class, asking for me. I started shaking and shivering like a maniac. I heard some giggles, accompanied with some best of lucks from the loser gang. I walked towards the biology lab where our class teacher sits; visualizing in mind what was to follow. I was about to take the turn towards the lab, when the peon told me that they’re in the principal’s office. “What? Principal’s office? But why? ” Too many questions. The peon gave a blank face and I realized there was no reason why he should have an answer for that.
I took a deep breath and thought to myself Jo hoga dekha jayega. I remembered someone saying; when you are in deep trouble, start chanting gayatri mantra. I did exactly that. The principal’s room was at the main entrance. Through the window, I could see that my mom’s elder sister, who is a retired head mistress, is also in the room, along with my biology teacher. Now it was understandable that the principal and the retired head mistress are certainly not talking about the next Mohanlal movie. While I was approaching the principal’s room, I could hear their hysterical laughter’s almost shaking the entire floor. For a moment I wondered what was wrong, then I composed myself outside the principal’s room and gently asked, “May I come in Madam?” The laughter died off for a while and started even vigorously. I felt embarrassed and confused. The principal said “aaah! Come in come in. So you are Rajeesh huh?”. Then she turned her face towards my mom and said, “I know this boy. He is talented. I’ve seen him taking part in all the extra curricular activities. He is good in sports too”. I thought murge ko halaal karne se pehle thoda paani tho pilathe hi hain. I was wondering what was going to happen next. She told me to concentrate on biology as much as I do for other subjects. She also said that she wants to see my name in the top 3 for the next exam. “Hmmm! fat chance”, I thought to myself. I was surprised when the principal said “I am sure this boy will pick up, he just needs a little push in the right direction”. I was asked to go back and attend the class. I looked up to see how my biology teacher was reacting to this. She really didn’t seem to have any complains. I ran towards the class and didn’t stop until I reached. As expected, everyone was curious to know what had happened. I explained everything to them.

Later, on reaching back home, mom told that my aunt (the retired head mistress) and the principal were childhood friends. They started their careers together and that they were meeting after a couple of decades. Now everything seemed to fall in place. The otherwise arrogant principal was very warm and kept on flattering me in front of my mom. But the advice from our dear head mistress was inevitable. As I was expecting, she didn’t bombard me with an unpleasant speech. Instead she gave me some real good advice about being a good student, a responsible son and didn’t stop until I was almost in tears. Yes, finally I started feeling guilty for whatever had happened. Eventually, it was all for good. I finally managed to pass in biology. Although didn’t come in the top 3 as my principal wanted me to.

Well, if you’re wondering why I started with the “suprabhatham”. On the ‘D’ day, when I went to the temple, it was the same “suprabhatham” playing, in the same deafening tone. That’s how my trail of thoughts took me back to some of the most interesting days of my life. Now I feel gratitude for the temple committee or whoever responsible for playing it so loud in the early morning hours, making it almost impossible to sleep. :)


budhi jeevis : an informal term in our school lingo often used to refer to folks who are intelligent and always fond of books. In other words, all the folks with huge spectacles, gaps between their teeth, accompanied with an appetite to read anything and everything under the sky.


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