Thursday, June 1, 2017

A quarter kilogram of silver.

A quarter kilogram of silver.

The silver shekel was not a coin, but rather 8.33 grams of silver. When Hammurabi’s Code declared that a superior man who killed a slave woman must pay her owner twenty silver shekels, it meant that he had to pay 166 grams of silver, not twenty coins –“Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Thus 30 pieces of silver would amount to 249.9 grams of silver!

The sense of guilt hit him once again. As it happened every time. Every time he had to wash, dress up and leave for his home after making love with his lover, the sense of guilt consumed him. It was as powerful as the exhilaration he had felt during the act of making love in the hours before. He had to be extra careful with his affair; the reasons were as they always are. He was married, rich, stinking rich as a matter of fact and he had a son who was finishing school. Old enough to have his girlfriend. He probably did.

He did not need this affair. His wife was lovely, accommodating and committed. He was not henpecked. Their married life could be labelled as a successful one. He had everything a man needed. Money, family, loving wife and a comfortable life. He was , hence, the proof that humans have a knack for complicating life.

His feeling of guilt was not strong enough for him to overcome his temptation. And his lover was the least demanding. She demanded nothing, spoke very little and was always ready. He knew nothing about her personal life. They met in a party, liked each other and connected. Simple as that. All their meetings were at his initiation. She never asked for a meeting, never communicated, always replied, never refused. He was convinced that she would never contact him if he never approached her after one of the visits.

His wife was a loving woman. But not a fool. She sensed something was wrong. She could never muster up the courage to ask him directly. What if her apprehensions were wrong and unfounded and she ended up hurting him. Or worse still, provoked him to go and commit adultery. But her gut feeling could not be ignored. She even followed him on a few occasions, trembling with fear and uncertainty. And always ended up feeling more miserable for suspecting him, as, in all those occasions, never once did he commit an act of misdemeanour.

There is no curse worse than the seed of suspicion. She started to get edgy. She was nervous most of the times. Lost her interest in most things. This state of affairs started telling on her health. Psychosomatic is what her doctor told her. Emotions so strong, the self-induced stress starts to actually manifest in physical ailments. She needed to visit her doctor more frequently with a series of complaints. Migraine, bowel disturbances, back ache, stiff neck, cramped muscles, joint pains, frequent cold, occasional fever. She had them all.
She started to lose weight.

It was when she started to lose weight that her husband noticed the problem. He was concerned and the medication and treatments intensified as he refused to ignore the recurring health issues as non-alarming or irrelevant. The deterioration was rapid.

Now he went through a cycle he found difficult understand. He was sad for his wife, was disturbed, needed the comfort of his lover more, felt more guilty each moment he spent with his lover, returned to find his wife showing no signs of improving, felt sadder and the cycle repeated all over again.

The administrations of the ever dependable doctor was not showing any signs towards recovery. The doctor tried his best. Changed medicines, doses, alternated between allopathy and naturopathy and acupressure and acupuncture and Ayurveda. And the doctor was more convinced that what was ailing her has its roots in her mind and not in her body.

He, being the family friend, and having treated all the members of the family over the years, took the liberty of talking to her husband.

“It is strange. And I am worried, to say the least. She is continuously losing weight and I need to utter the dreaded C word, I am testing her for cancer tomorrow. The probability is too low, but I would like to be sure. If I am confidently eliminating the dreaded C then I would have more confidence in the ongoing medication”

It was an information. Not a request.

The husband went into deeper remorse. The waiting period while the blood had been sent for the analysis was nerve wrecking. The mind sought only one avenue of reducing stress. The lover, the ever-willing one, never once asked anything about the increase in the frequency of their meeting.

The doctor called to say that the report was negative. It was the first time in his life that the husband realized that the word “negative” could make someone so happy. While the dreaded C was put to rest, the deteriorating condition of the wife continued. She was pale and weak. While the smile was always present, the grimace behind the smile could not be hidden successfully.

Mustering up all the courage the husband asked her one day, “What is troubling you dear? I am certain that there is something that is gnawing at your mind. Please tell me if there is something that I could do.”

All he received in reply were the same three answers.

A smile.

A shrug indicating all is well.

A verbal assurance that she is just tired.

After the blood report ruling out cancer, things looked up a little. She was returning to some sort of normalcy.
There were times that she thought that she would ask her husband directly if he was cheating on her.

She was unsure.

An affirmation would give him carte blanche to whatever he had been doing, as yet unconfirmed.

A negation would only make her more convinced that there was indeed something wrong, but a thing that could not be confirmed.

She thought of hiring some detectives but the very idea started to look ridiculous on deeper inspection.

What would she tell the detective? How could she talk about her inner demons to a complete stranger? And how trustworthy are these detectives anyway? What is the guarantee the detective would not turn into a future blackmailer?

The second bout of illness that followed was catastrophic.

Her deterioration was rapid. She was becoming gaunt and started to look alarmingly anaemic.

The decision of whether to hospitalize her or not was taken out of the hand of the husband when she collapsed on a Sunday morning.

The next few weeks were a blur. The unit for pain is “dol”. (Now all those painkillers with dol in their name suddenly makes more sense). There are various scales available for arranging the pain that a human can endure starting from the lowest (banging your toe against a rock, a simple “ouch”) to the highest (a kick in the testicle, childbirth.. “Oh My Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawd”). But there is no scale available to measure the pain that a person feels without any physical cause. The husband was on this level. He was so disturbed and so shaken up looking at his wife deteriorating right in front of his eyes that the pain he felt was almost physical. Probably worse than the physical. The pain escalated probably because of the sense of guilt that he started to acknowledge.

For some strange reason, he started to feel responsible for her predicament. He came to a conclusion that her ailment was a result of his disloyalty. On more than one occasion he came close to confessing his shameful digression. But he just could not bring himself to the task.

The doctor was worried looking at the condition of the husband and was mentally prepared to start treating both of them.

It was a Friday. As a matter of fact, Good Friday. The day a poor carpenter’s son was administered a gruesome ending to his 33 years of existence on earth.

There was something wrong. It could be felt in the air; so palpable was it. The husband was intercepted before he could reach his wife’s room in the hospital by a sober looking stocky short nurse. The nurse was waiting with a specific instruction to bring him to the doctor ASAP.

If the nurse bore an expression of someone receiving news about an Ebola outbreak, the doctor looked as if he had discovered a black mamba under his duvet.

“Early this morning, few of her vital organs collapsed, I had no other option but to put her on life support. It is difficult to say if she is responding well as anything short of a complete collapse is considered an improvement at this stage. She is not on ventilator. You may be a bit taken aback with the number of tubes that are running into and out of her body. She is not in a stage of coma. Her response, if there is any, may, however be a little incoherent”

The doctor did not rattle off the stuff above. He patiently explained it as if he was talking to someone who was intellectually challenged. The husband, known to be patient listener, listened in complete silence.

He was petrified. Did not know how to react. Crying did not come easily to him. He never cried when his parents died, prematurely, in a car crash. He did not cry when there was not much left of them in the crash for even a proper funeral ceremony.

He did not remember walking the distance from the doctor’s room to his wife’s bedside. He looked at her and talons of grief tore at his heart. She had become almost white, translucent at edges and she was either fast asleep or totally unconscious. The heaving bosom was the only sign of that she was still alive.

Medicine never interested him and all the monitors and panels around her did not make any sense to him. For reasons unknown, all the monitors had green colored lines and trends on black background. He understood graphs that showed green in a preferred zone and red in danger zone. This almost monochromatic trends conveyed nothing to him. The two bottles of IV fluid connected to her was so colorless, it could have been water.

Her pupils moved sporadically behind her closed eyelids. Did she feel anything? Could she hear if he spoke to her? He had this premonition that he was losing her. He wanted her to come around, just once, just for a few minutes, so that he could confess to her. She deserved to know the truth before she died. He would never be able to live in peace if he could not confess his indiscretion to her. Was it really indiscretion or a planned conscious lapse?

He lost track of time. He did not want to sleep. He did not want to miss that small window to confess, if she woke up from her current state.

She stirred awake a little before midnight. Her face was ashen. Her looks clouded. There was hardly any strength or will to move her limbs. Her tongue snaked out and tried to moisten her parched lips. She looked around, totally disoriented, looked at the tangled web of tubes running in and out of her and exhaled sadly. Her roving eyes passed her husband and returned to him in a sad acknowledgement. Her look conveyed helplessness, pain and almost a sorry expression that was almost apologetic.

He had been rehearsing throughout the day. He had also been secretly hoping that he would not have to do it. That she would peacefully pass off without ever gaining full consciousness thereby removing the onus of confession from him. Life is known for landing you in positions that you never imagined, never wanted, never expected.

He mustered enough courage, held her hand, the ever reliable human gesture of affection and honesty, looked her straight in her eye and confessed. He had kept it short. He just mentioned that he had been not loyal to her, he had been cheating on her, been sleeping with another woman, mentioned her name and sought forgiveness.

Her look turned from pained to incredulous to sheer horror and settled to one of complete resignation. She had no strength to display any of her hurt. Her eyes told the misery she felt. He was sorry that it had to come to this. She closed her eyes, not dramatically like in cinemas, but out of sheer exhaustion. All the pains and hurt she felt took shape and trickled out of her eyes in a steady stream of tears, that left a snail like trail between the corner of her eyes to her ears.

He expected his confession to make him feel light and absolved. It made him feel like a vermin. He let her hand go from his grip, ashamed to hold her anymore. The hand dropped like a dead leaf. Her silent tears cut through him like a hot knife. He had never felt more miserable in his life.

He had woken up with his whole body aching. He had slept, seated in his chair by the side of her bed. The stain of two lines between the corners of her eyes to the ears reminded him of the painful moments of the previous night. The panels around her, the beeping monitors and her conditions had all remained the same. She looked as lifeless as she was the previous day. The chest movements were no longer a steady pattern. It was disturbed and troubled. The body remained still.

The doctor came for his morning rounds and insisted that the husband went home.

“There is no change in her systems. If the condition did not deteriorate her chances would be better. It is difficult to say anything now. But one thing is certain. You staying here would not change anything. You need rest too, please go home and take some rest”

There was nothing to argue against that instruction. He went home and collapsed onto his bed without even removing his shoes. He slept through the day and woke up because he was hungry. He fixed himself a light meal and returned to the hospital for his vigil. It was like he never left her in between. Someone must have sponged her, the face was clean and there were no streaks of dried tears. It also meant that she probably never woke up after the previous night.

He felt light now, a full 24 hours after his confession. And he was clear in his mind that he had done the right thing. The doctor met him before leaving, and his double handed handshake was more in commiseration than a mere wish. The look of resignation on the doctor’s countenance was unmistakable.
Both of them silently acknowledged that they were only waiting.
For the inevitable.

He drifted off to sleep more easily and stretched on the spare bed.

Easter Sunday. The day of resurrection. He woke up and almost fell out of his bed. She was still lying in her bed, all parts of her body as immobile as they were the previous two days, but her head was turned in his direction and she was looking at him with zero expression. Her look was intense, almost scrutinizing. He jumped up and rang the bell and one of the nurses rushed in, and he was pointing at his wife, mouthing no words, just a mixture of incredulity, joy and silent terror on his face. The nurse had one look at the wife, consulted all the charts, adjusted few knobs on those monitors and went out to page the doctor.

The doctor arrived soon. His face was beaming. He broke into a wide grin at the end of an hour and told her husband that this was nothing short of a miracle, and probably he would present a paper in the next conference if he would permit.

Her recovery was as slow as her deterioration. The husband felt naked in her presence now. He was embarrassed. He could not hold any conversation. He was happy that she had come around and was equally aghast on what would transpire in a matter of weeks.

The wife was completely silent. She never uttered a word. She never smiled. It appeared as if she was harnessing all her energy in getting well and returning home.

And recovered her health, she did.

The first words she spoke to her husband when they reached their home were“I would like a divorce”

He started to object, tried to explain, wanted to give their life a second chance, pleaded for understanding.

He spoke for hours, she outdid him in patient listening, she never once interrupted him and when he had finished, had said all that he wanted to say, she said once again

“I would like a divorce, please”

The husband who had never cried all his life, sat down on the floor and cried his heart out.

The process of divorce was a long drawn one but eventually it worked out. The custody of the child, already a strapping young boy, was not too complicated. He expressed his desire to stay in a hostel and was all right with visiting rights allocated to both his parents. He was never close to his parents and the new arrangement did not bother him much.

The alimony was substantial, but barely a dent on his vast fortune.

The husband did not fight the alimony amount, he expected the settlement to cleanse him off his sin.

He stopped seeing his lover. Probably there was no wife to cheat took the sheen off. He never understood why.

As days passed, the husband sank into a deeper misery. All those days of exquisite pleasure and the thrill of two-timing his wife was gone. He sank into the predictable routine of a man paying for his sins. He was constantly soliloquizing, wore a constant mask of grimace, snapped at his colleagues unnecessarily resulting in the few close to him to drift away, leaving him more isolated, thus increasing his sense of despondency. The empty home did little to alleviate his sadness.

To his surprise, he started to realize how much of his daily life revolved around his wife, a matter that he had taken for granted. From simple things like breakfast and juice on the table, to folded socks and underwear in the correct chest of drawers, to the little more routine of utility bills and services and payments to thousand things like gardener, watchman, servant maid, cleaning services, home insurance, car insurance, ……….

The whole mental misery started to reflect on his physical appearance and in his overall health. The temptation to self-flagellate as a redeeming act for his sins of the day past, that of not continuing with his erstwhile, ever accommodating, lover only exaggerated his overall sense of discomfort.

In a nutshell his life was reduced to one of utmost misery, nullifying all those days of ephemeral pleasure and thrill. Nothing could be considered as worthwhile against the current state. The more he revisited his stupid, careless days the more he was convinced that ONLY he is responsible for the current state.

And he squirmed further knowing that he had been directly responsible for such untold misery his wife had undergone because of him. He realized that he could never forgive himself, even if his loving wife decided to forgive him after stoically bearing all that he unleashed on her.

The wife was getting used to her new life. There was no need to work to earn a living. The sizeable alimony took care of that aspect. There was now enough time to pick up new hobbies. She started to learn to paint. There was a small garden at the back of the house to keep her busy and satisfied. She was getting into a routine of working the garden in the morning and going for a run around the park after lunch. She kept her lunch light to keep her running swift. If someone had been following her, they could have set their clock by the time she finished her afternoon run and returned home.

Probably, at least one gentleman was following her routine as she found him arriving at her gate just as she finished her run and returned home.

Her face broke into a terrified look and she dragged him inside quickly and shut the door.

“Everything worked as planned. It was a gamble but we had to take it. If he had not confessed, all the charade of falling health would have been a waste. But, no pain, no gain. Correct?” He smiled mischievously.

       Her face broke into a smile, now that she was safe behind the closed doors, and she nodded her head in agreement.

“Now that the divorce is over and done with, and it has been five months already, when are we going to get married” he asked anxiously, inching closer to her.

She held him off at arm’s distance, put a finger to her mouth and transferred the kiss to his lips and said

“Few more months, Doctor”

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Is God For Real?

The question, as old as time itself.

The question that has been debated is being discussed and will be discussed in the years to come.

Though it must be acknowledged that the concept of God had lost its power and the hold on the masses with advancing years.

If I were to draw a graph, the curse of being an engineer by profession, it would be like this.


People, particularly those who want to be at the helm of affairs have always been manipulative. And nothing allows you to hold on to, and grow more, power than a well-engineered myth.

The term “put the fear of God into him” does have some ancient inclinations as to  how it must have started.

Let’s take an example.

When concepts and ideas do not make sense, simple explanations, anecdotes or examples and simulations help in greater understanding.

Let us select, at random, one of the Ten Commandments.

Thou shall not kill.

Etymologically it could be confusing.

If masses were murdered in war, it was not killing.

If a king or a judge ordered that a person’s life be extinguished, it is not “kill”
The ancient civilisations lived peacefully, far away from each other, rarely coming in contact and probably never understood the need for the word “kill”

Probably their language, if they had a spoken language, did not even have the word.

A chance encounter between two unrelated individuals would have ended in curiosity, caution and going about their way.

At some point in time. Someone must have come across the idea of “ruling” his/her subjects.

Most probably a lazy one, who did not want to toil like others.

Most inventions belong to the physically lax ones.

How do you make people do what you tell them, why should they do it?

Once the rule is established, the subsequent events unfold predictably. Continuity is something humans latch onto with alacrity.

The first ruler had to be a genius. It is my belief that the first ruler must have resorted to dark powers, the power of the night, demons and banshees so to say, as fear is an integral part of the ruling. You can’t rule a free spirit. You need to have it chained, constantly looking over their shoulders in terror. No one would have given in easily to authority unless if the life of that individual and the others associated were in great peril or, worse still, were to become unbearable. The first ruler must have devised ingenious ways to convince his/her future subjects to listen to him/her. What would herald complete submission? That the self-appointed ruler is the “chosen one”. He/she must have been vetted by a mysterious entity. The first requisite for such a mysterious entity is that everything about that entity has to be surrounded in mystery. 

What is understood is never scary.

You know how a plane flies, even if you do not know the complete engineering behind it, the thrust of the powerful engines, draft, the aerodynamics, the adjustable flaps on the wings, the minute adjustments that the pilot continuously makes all through the flight, the fact that thousands board and alight safely is often enough. It is true, that you do have cases like MH 370, but then the science of probability convinces you it is still safe. Because you know how a plane functions, or you have enough data to prove flying is not a one way journey, you confidently board a plane, read your kindle, eat and drink up the free liquor and alight. No mysteries.

And the best way to accelerate this process is to go about inventing that entity.

So, the first ruler painted a picture of a mysterious nocturnal being, it had to be nocturnal, day-light brings clarity, that is prowling the woods, ready to jump on you, tear your limbs apart, sank its fangs in your throat, drank up your blood, feasted on your flesh, while you are still alive, inflicting on you unbearable agony, and the squeamish would be ready to throw in the towel.

The ruler then had to demonstrate that such a dark entity does indeed move about and had to create a few victims to prove its existence. This must have been the first “kill”. Having established a dark entity and sown the fear in the minds of the subjects, making them listen to the antidote should have been fairly simple. The creator of the myth could easily control its actions too. A complete elimination would have led to disobedience. So, even after full submission and complete control the ruler would have still unleashed violence in sporadic bursts to keep the subjects on edge. Any pattern would have been a disaster. It had to be a random event.

A dark power could not be a “god”. Unless you are a cult that is labelled as Satan worshipper. The “God” must have been created to counter the dark force. A second myth to control the first myth.A “god” without the demon to take care of would be similar to a world class goalkeeper facing a team with no forwards. What does he get to save if there are no goal scorers?

Once this pattern is established, control gained, the rest is, as it was, mere history. Subsequent rulers increase the stranglehold and gained better control.

If two such societies lived away from each other, and were never in contact, and each developed their own versions of, first the demons, then the Gods, and if they happened to meet, either by chance, or by the avarice of one leader to expand, a clash would have been inevitable.

The stronger of the two tribes would have succeeded, taken in the conquered tribe as their subjects, and their God would have been conquered too. Now emerged a new society with two sets of subjects and one God, old to some and new to some. Suppression would be the new word to the language and suppression would elicit more “kills”.

The act of taking the life of a subject of the conqueror by the conquered would have been labelled as a “kill” while the same act if the subject were that of the conquered, would have labelled as “justice”.

All, in the name of God.

The power of the Gods would have vacillated.

Advancing years, greater understanding of the world, better control over the elements, greater reliance of our own capabilities, and the opportunity to question without the threat of being killed all must have led to the current state where a general belief in God is diminishing.

We understand. We think. We can predict. We can control. We can create. We can destroy.

All characteristics once associated with the God are now ours.

A Zlatan Ibrahimović in awe of a Eric Cantona grows up to be an all-powerful footballer and one day gets to stand in Old Trafford, basking in the glory, knowing that Manchester United now depends on him to deliver, finally gets the courage to say “I am the king”. Cantona still hangs around, but is not revered, nor feared.

Getting back to the starting point of this discussion, the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” which was an absolute command once, became muddled according to interpretation and finally reduced to just a pigment of someone’s imagination.

In today’s world of science, it gets to be difficult to believe that there could be a God, who is pulling strings from some remote place, orchestrating all events. The events defy logic; the end game does not appear to make any sense. The whole concept of create, allow it to fall apart, destroy completely (Kalyug) and restart from scratch, play on endlessly does not make any sense. A poor business model. We, today have a compelling need for evidence. In the absence of the same a God is as likely as a speaking horse.


While the prosecution is on a strong ground asking for proof, the defence has to rely on the “why”rather than the “how”of it.

It is all attractive and intellectually stimulating to picture the scenarios above thrashing the concept of God.

It all started with a need to control, to laze around, to benefit from someone else’s labor, yada yada.

There is one glitch though!

All through the history, in all those years when information exchange was not what it is today, where most people lived their whole life and died without ever knowing what had happened even 100 kms from where they spent their whole life, it is difficult to imagine a world-wide conspiracy where similar approaches were put into practice.

There are multiple ways to gain control, and it is rather difficult to assume that people disconnected from one another, all over the world, in various climates and terrain, all resorted to one methodology of “dark forces- fear of life – a savior God – anointed leader” approach to rule.

It is almost impossible, even in today’s ultra-connected world, to pull off a scam on a global scale with any possibility of a success. Some thing would not gel, some would be a whistle-blower, a leak would happen, someone would screw-up a vital part of the execution in one part of the world.

If pulling off a global scam is not possible today, how this would have been possible in all those yesteryear.

VW could not hold on to its tampering with emission results. Even if VW was in collusion with GM, Toyota, Chrysler and Peugeot chances are that sooner or later someone would pull the plug and the whole scam comes out in the open.

If we draw a parallel, then the various communities around the world, the pagans, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Jains at various stages in history all had an elaborate scheme that was working so well that, even though they fought with each other on occasions, they never once exposed the other.

The battles were always on who was bigger and more powerful and never if one was an outright charlatan.

One can go back and touch on the Roman and Greek Gods to simply stand dumbstruck.

And matching literature, massive monuments, references everywhere, coherent story-line, a comprehensive philosophy of living, a mind boggling treasure of manuscripts recording miracles, methods, punishments, justice all collectively so vast it is certain to say the whole thing could not have been a scam.

And hence,……………it had to be true.

Proving by negation may not be extremely appealing, but even modern day science has many established methods of proving only be absence.

You test your blood for HIV and the result is negative, it proves that you are healthy, at least from the dreaded HIV.

The same science that had taught us to relentlessly pursue proof also taught us to never believe in coincidences.

If all the groups in the world, at various times, and in various places, unconnected to each other, had developed the same methodology as a means for controlling, it would rate as the biggest coincidence, EVER!


So, is God for real?

My personal belief is immaterial here.

At the end of evaluating the prosecution and defence's arguments, to be honest, in the name of God (pun intended) I do not have a clue.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Face The World (Notes for the emerging youth)

Do something funny
Do something stupid
Do something dangerous
But never do something
That you will regret one day!

Tell funny tales
Regale with good jokes
Recommend books that are outrageously hilarious
But never make a joke
At the expense of someone.

Say good about someone
Say nice things, even to a stranger
Say most things with a smile
But never say a word that
Is going to hurt someone.

Live your life with humility
Live your life in continuous awe
Live your life to the full
But never live your life
That is another person’s dream.

When someone talks to you , pay attention.
When someone asks for help, give without hesitation.
When someone criticises you, listen
When things hurt you, don’t hold the tears back, cry
When something makes you happy, celebrate
When you set your heart on something, never rest.
But when someone insults you
Walk away with a smile.

The world owes you nothing.
Don’t sit and fret
You owe the world one thing.

Leave it slightly better than how you found it.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Exam Fever

I gave my final exams of my school in 1982.

My son will finish his exams in a few days, a gap of 35 years separating our pivotal moment in life.

I fill most of my blogs with events from my life, often exaggerated, and with what I observe around me.

As I watched my son going through the preparatory stages and the actual ordeal of the exams themselves, I was transported to how I handled mine 35 years ago, and I was taken aback at the differences.

Read on.


The whole year was crammed with non-stop activities by the school to ensure that you always stayed in touch with your subjects and exams.

There were the monthly tests, the surprise tests (that are usually announced a week before 😃), Quarterly exams, half-yearly exams, mock tests and the much awaited “Study Holidays”

In 1982 I did not know the meaning of the word oxymoron, even if someone had mentioned that word, I would have thought it to be a higher grade of a moron, but of all the oxymoron I have come across none is better than Study Holidays!

It was about a month long!

If the year in preparation had been a marathon, this period was a 100 m dash.

And the organisation was quite elementary!

30 days and 6 subjects.

So 5 days to each subject.

The order was not relevant. What mattered was that I covered the first exam subject as the sixth and last during the study holidays.

We studied all day and most nights.

I had an uncle who told me that the early morning was the best time to study. 

My brother told me that late night was the most ideal. Another piece of advice was to stagger the timing.

Study, read some comics, play outside, sleep a little and then study again.

Now I realise that everyone suggested to me what they tried (and failed at)

I remember studying mostly during the nights well into early morning hours.

It had two advantages. No one disturbed you during the night. And if I slept during the day, everyone thought I had studied the previous night.

The state board syllabus and the structure of the examinations tested your ability to rote learn. If you could memorise vast amount of material, and remember to reproduce at the right place within the given time you topped your class, district, state, etc….

Application oriented studies was not common then.

It was hard but not a matter of life and death.

In addition to that I was not distracted by
  • Computers
  • Internet
  • Mobile phone
  • Tablets
  • Whatsapp
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • American and French elections
  • Climate change
  • Cow worship / mafia
  • YouTube
  • Television
  • Twitter

The only two possible distractions were
  • Newspaper
  • Radio

And no one played the Radio in the house when I was studying for the finals.

And newspaper was an enigma! It was bought, kept neatly folded, and at the end of the month sold to an old man who came and collected the papers weighing on a balance that was more crooked than the one the lady in the court holds.

I never understood this enterprise. This was for me a clear charity. Buy at full value, sell at 1/10th after never using the product.

Fast forward to 2017.

Jesus Freaking Christ!

My son withdrew from social life a good 14 months ago.

The family built a home and moved residence and he did not even know. For him it was simply he slept at residence A on 28th and residence B on 29th.

Usually miserly in conversations, he became more miserly.

Words replaced sentences, mumbling sounds replaced words, gestures replaced mumbling sounds, a glance replaced gestures and suddenly like the cat in Alice in Wonderland, he was just present for a while and retreated to his kingdom.

His room resembled a minefield. You were scared to enter lest you disturb something, and having entered you had to navigate your way, as if on a minefield, through the mere 5 meters from the door to his study corner.

You usually scared him, as he was always with his headphones on.

It was nerve wrecking to sit in the hall and listen to various sounds that emanated from behind his closed doors.

  • Thud.
  • Curse
  • Shriek.
  • Footsteps.
  • Loud Noises.
  • Long monologues.
  • Metronomic banging (what against what was never clear)
  • And the worst sound of them all
  • ………………..silence.

He finished talking to his family and relatives on the Christmas Day in 2016.

Being an art student, there was nothing one could do to help him. His syllabus was strange and his methods stranger.

And the school, which made me doubt if they were actually licensed to teach in all the preceding years, suddenly appeared to have tightened up as if to make up for the lax displayed before.

I initially did not mind much, thinking this could be the difference between Europe and India.

One day he showed me his program.

It was more a pogrom.

The regular readers of mine have always blamed me for exaggerating.

Look at this.

And it is not a typo showing two breakfast. It was two breakfasts. Lunch consumes more time. Sorry. No time.

Most days unfolded like this.

A tentative knock, a pause, peek into the room and “ hello, could we talk for a minute?”

A startled look, nearly having jumped from his seat, and a vigorous shake of his head accompanied with frantic gestures and a “later, during the break” with a dismissive head nod or a hand chop.

We are so used to having someone loiter in the house, stamp around, move from one room to another, switch on lights, soliloquise and wake you up at closer to four in the morning to tell you to wake him at 0930, that once he leaves for his university we would not even stir if a band of burglars broke into our home.

The breaks mentioned in the pogrom were filled with multitasking.

Laptop open on facebook, with seven message windows popped up, food plate in front of him, music on his headphones and either the Guardian and John Oliver on his mobile.

The silver lining to this dark cloud is “I will come biking/trekking with you once the exams are over”

Which is three days away.

But, in all probability, I would need to start with introducing myself.