Monday, April 30, 2007

Awwal number

Bachpan mein I was urged by my well-meaning parents to always strive to come first in class. One may argue that coming first in a class 4 exam has no relevance whatsoever with what one does later in life. Although this view is largely true, such an attitude of irreverence does not contribute towards a fighter instinct, where you do your best to come out tops. Anyway, this post is not about such philosphical stuff.

Coming back to coming first, this was to remain an unfulfilled dream. There was another chap in my class who always used to come first. Every year. Every terminal exam. Almost every exam. Every unit test. In short everything. My luck with getting the prized number 1 was so bad that even though my initials were AA (not AC for anon coward ;), there was a chap whose surname was Abraham who piped me to the post. Later on it was Abel. *#%I#**#)(&$@#

The chap who always came first (lets call him ASC for the want of a better name) was a nice chap, but a maggoo kutta fighter in every sense of those words. The stories of his maggai were legendary. It was alleged that he mugged up entire chapters in Hindi (or was it someone else ?). With as much certainity of an Aussie victory in the WC final, his coming first was also a certainity. My poor ego took a big battering on account of this. It wasnt that I was not good enough to get more marks or anything, it was always that he was so much better.

We were on reasonably friendly terms and had taken part in quite a few quizzes together. In class 11th, he took Sci with Eco and yours truly with CS and so our paths diverged. Apart from the occasional contact, we didnt talk much about acads. While I whiled away my time in 11th, he had joined a prominent coaching center for IITJEE.

I had no idea about the 'level' of JEE or what one needed to do in order to clear it, but it was graudually becoming apparent that ASC might not clear it. Many people from other schools had joined my school in 11th. They too had joined various coaching centers, and while there was lot of talk about their marks in various phase tests, ASC's name was conspicuous by its absence. He was also not mentioned when people talked about the BIG studs at the centers.

I think it was in 12th that he stopped going to that coaching. People were uncharitably saying that usski fat gayi thi and that was now trying to get good marks in the boards and go abroad or to some good college in DU. By this time I too had joined a coaching and with 7 days working, I had no time to listen to what others were saying.

I had pretty much stopped going to school before the screening. Except for the one day that there was a phone call from school that I was required to sign some board related document. So the week before the JEE screening, I relucantly went to school (wearing the uniform - BIG mistake). My smart friend came in casuals, signed and went away, whereas I on the other hand sat in an almost empty class with less than 10 others. I probably met ASC for the last time at the end of our last common board.

Through friends, I heard that he had got into Venky. By now, I too was busy with college (and having healthy interaction with my seniors). I never heard of him, till day before yesterday. I had met an old school friend of mine who was a common friend of ASC and me. He told me that ASC had finally gone to Canada for studies, but 2 years hence, an eye problem forced him to return. After that matter was resolved, he joined Venky in 1st year and had recently completed his degree. This was certainly not the future I had thought a person of his calibre would have. Even though I have said he that he was a maggoo fighter, it didnt take a genius to figure out that he was an extremely intelligent chap.

I was stunned to know that this person who always topped in class was such a cruel victim of circumstances. We take so many things for granted. Eye sight, hearing, speech, health limbs, mental health are all taken for granted. Do we ever pause to think what would happen to us if any of these things were taken away from us ? Fate can play havoc with even the best laid plans.

To conclude, as the poet Robert Burns said

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

An unfortunate and sad fact of life, but karm is our duty and throwing up hands in despair at the vagaries of fate is a big no-no.

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Blogger Atish said...

yes... the things that we take for granted.. i guess now and then we NEED to hear of such stories to cherish what we have and be thankful for it ...
nice post as always :)

10:39 PM  
Blogger sunny said...

nice post :)

10:48 PM  
Blogger gurinder said...

i didnt expect such an end...nice post

4:43 AM  

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