Tuesday, March 27, 2007

 

Letter for a Student to a Father

I came across an interesting new word the other day- Epistle. Epistle, noun, means ‘a letter’. The origin of the word dates back to the time of Jesus Harold Christ, when epistles were written to the disciples by the apostles of Christ. True to the noble intentions behind creating this otherwise useless web page full of rants and libelous comments, I shall strive, amidst much strife, to use this latest addition to my rapidly growing vocab in this post.

Epistles, in the 21st century, are few, if any at all. The wrinkled parchment that our parents get misty-eyed about has been conveniently replaced by a useful invention of Antonio Meucci (not Graham Bell) and by that great gift to mankind- e-mail. However, the advent of epistles addressed to you, provided they’re not from FIITJEE, never fails to pique you. The latest letter that I received (technically speaking, my father received), was piquant to the core, though not in the sense I would have liked it to have been.

It was during the holi break when this cataclysmic event happened. I had returned from day 1 of the IITD Parliamentary Debate (read earlier post for details of the same), sanguine about the team’s chances. It was then that the biblical fattening of the calf started. Mouth watering Mutton Biryani had been deliciously prepared. The Pakistani Shaan biryani masala had been used, giving the succulent mutton incredible taste. Hunger, the wise say, is the best sauce and my rumbling stomach found that sauce divine. I devoured piece after piece of the tenderly cooked mutton, savoured slice after slice of the spiced eggs and had helping after helping of the sumptuous biryani. Half and hour and a tighter waistband later, I was prepared to lie down on the comfy bed, feeling well-disposed to my fellow humans. God was in his heaven and all was right with the world, I thought. It turned out to be the lull before the storm. The calf had been fed, let the slaughter begin.

The pillory started with an innocuous remark from me mum- “Son, there was a letter from college today…” Never before had I fully appreciated the meaning of the phrase “his heart stopped” or “his spine chilled”. Lefty had received an epistle, not from the well-meaning apostles, but from the draconian administration of R. The evil parchment was couched in highly inimical terms:

“Dear Lefty’s Dad. Your son is a worthless nincompoop and has not been attending classes. His attendance is below the required 75% (73% I ask you!). If this chain of events continues, he will be barred from sitting for the end-semester exams.”

Couldn’t the same have been- “Dear Lefty’s Dad. Nothing to worry about, but your son’s attendance is a tad below borderline- 73% instead of 75. We’re sure this is only a temporary situation, if not a mistake on our part, and he’ll soon attend that extra class. Just thought we’d let you know.”?

I was soon interrogated on this lackadaisical attitude. Shamefacedly I explained how my stubborn refusal to part from my blanket at the crack of wintry dawn was the root cause of the unpleasant situation. My mother had guessed as much and the remarks conveying her disappointment accrued. The 73-75 difference was dismissed (“You’re in a residential hostel, your attendance should be 100%. When I was a student…”). In the end, my rapidly diminishing silhouette turned out to be my bulwark. Mamma, always one to lament at the quality of the mess food, began to think that all was not as should be with my metabolism and a blood-test might be a good idea. It was my turn to be dismissive now. I pleaded guilty, blamed my sleeping habits, and promised to remove all further A’s from the various attendance registers.

This last paragraph is a shameless example of Lefty blowing his own trumpet. It is basically intended for me mum. From that historic day, I have missed just one class (clap clap). That too was by accident. And till the semester ends, I shall continue to be a regular student (it’s true, my dear skeptics). Fingers are crossed and a hope expressed that this epistle was the first and last. Amen.


 

On That Point Sir...

A new revelation was made to me earlier this month- vacations can be a double edged sword. Wisdom, I observe, is gradually dawning on me. The path to enlightenment becomes shorter by the day. Allow me to explain my earlier metaphor. When you’re at home with your sister’s board exams on (affecting enjoyment while she slogs is great fun) and are therefore denied the essential modern amenities like television and the Internet, the holidays can show a propensity towards dragging. Add to that the fact that your friends don’t have the privilege of vacations and your parents are away at work and you’d find that Lefty can be excused for saying that for the first time, the vacations were not all hunky dory.

It was with this background that confirmation of the IITD Parliamentary Debate (PD) came. Thankful for a break from the monotony of daily life, I trotted off to the venue of the upcoming battle of words. Accompanying me was Decayed Canine, as he chooses to call himself, and the third member of our illustrious team was Politically Correct Person, as I choose to call him. Our arrival did not quite create the furor that might have been expected. The guard gave us the Grand Ignore and the members of the welcoming committee, on having been assured that we need no accommodation, chose to emulate the majestic keeper of their gates. Undaunted, DC and I decided to catch up with our old friends on campus. DC called up a pal of his innocent days and obtained the number of his Childhood Sweetheart (we’ve been together since class V, I was solemnly informed). I’ve probably earned an expletive in the comments section of this post courtesy our smitten friend for this vital piece of information, but then, who cares? Childhood Sweetheart arrived and the two disappeared. However, a bosom buddy of mine came to the rescue and was soon followed by PCP (Politically Correct Person). The host team gave a demonstration attempting to explain the complicated format. Each team had three members. The debates would be one team vs. the other. Teams could interject each other by stating- “On that point, sir/ma’am”. Soon the clock struck 10 and we disappeared.

The great PD began the next day. Our gallant rivals were a team from Bangladesh. We managed to conquer them in what was a ‘very shoddy debate’, as an adjudicator kindly informed us. The highlight of the shoddy show was when Lefty, displaying an admirably intimidating face, managed to give a thorough dressing down to one of the opposition members. “You are heckling me, sir”, I said, staring daggers at him while desperately fighting the urge to laugh. ‘Sir’ was visibly abashed and decidedly scared (or maybe I was just viewing the world through rose tinted glasses). DC and PCP watched in amazement as my amicable façade gave way to a cold exterior belonging to a ruthless man of ice.

It was in the next debate that PCP and I realized how a group of dingbats pretending to be erudite adjudicators could change the entire debating scenario. A singularly unpleasant young lady having minimal claims to both beauty and brains and negative claims to fair judgement was unleashed upon us. All our rationale was lost on this sorry specimen as she made one egregious mistake after another in her adjudication. Her partner in crime was a gentleman from the host team who can, at best, be described as a thoroughly confused person. He accepted our logic, accepted our points, accepted our rare histrionics and might even have accepted a lick from DC had the latter not been busy bashing him up. However he denied us his vote in our debates, citing ‘lack of elaboration’ as the reason.

Disgusted with the PD, PCP and I turned our attention to a more profitable pastime- preparing a catalogue of the finest members of the fairer sex. It was very pleasant then to be away from our town wannabe, where the countdown begins and ends at the solitary Hot Babe. The list we compiled comprised 3 Hot Babes:

  1. Hot Babe#1: A charming damsel from a hitherto unheard-of college. A fine visage and a ravishing smile.
  2. Hot Babe#2: Smart young lady, included in the list much to the disgruntlement of DC. An impeccable dress sense was her USP.
  3. Hot Babe#3: A seemingly glorious example of beauty minus brains. In possession of a supremely dazed expression at all times. Belonged to the bastion of female frustration.

HB#1 did us a great favour. Her team advanced to the semis and then conveniently withdrew, leaving a place open for ‘closely’ losing quarterfinalists like us. The next quarter was won but the semis lost. HB#2 was part of the team that beat us in our first encounter with Evil Adjudicator Lady. HB#3 hovered around in the background, delighting everyone by virtue of being HB#3.

The PD came to a close and we came back to R. with some T-shirts and lots of cash. The only cloud in the silver lining was that Evil Adjudicator Lady managed to be declared the best of her ilk. The entire event however, was marred by the arrival of an Evil Epistle home. Well, you win some, you lose some. More on that later.


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