I was a good boy till I turned fifteen.
Then my parents put me in a co-educational school. And all hell broke loose.
The funny bit was, it wasn’t even my idea. My parents literally coerced me into the school. “Old friends from school, loads of time to bunk class and study at home” they said. I was a god fearing, fat boy-child who hadn’t spoken to a single girl in his entire life (up until then) and dreamed about becoming an astrophysicist one day. (Just to make things clear – I have struggled to lose a few pounds since then, have mostly succeeded – to my dismay – in losing quite a bit of my hair, and I routinely abuse my kidneys every weekend. When I am sober, my priorities revolve around making sure I smile at meetings, playing a half-hour of very par badminton, and of course – weathering the perennial storm we have so fondly come to know as the boss.) Anyway, their ploy worked. But before you begin to question the very fabric of the reality I have been raised on, let’s travel back to when I was born.
I was born sometime in 1990. But of course you know that. I mean, you must have seen it on my resume – considering I have sent it across to a million people, desperately looking for employment. (Just to clarify, and not to sound repetitive – I am an excellent candidate, mind you, for any sort of job that you may have. I am excellent with numbers, I am good with cats and I have quite a bit of grasp on the English language. I am not very good with fire arms, even though I have been training quite hard at the beach – shooting more balloons than I ever did.) My family is a typical family of academicians. My great grandfather was an eminent scientist, and my father is an engineer and a high ranking public servant, at an establishment of great repute. My mother, is a mathematician – between her daily chores in the kitchen and the cleaning of my study table, she has trained several students who have gone on to become professors or actors (not for the lack of trying though.) As such, the hopes were high. To top it off, I was always compared to an eternally over-achieving cousin. From entrance examinations to cricket cards, the damn cousin always had the better of me. As it stands now – I have managed to beat him in FIFA a couple of times, and I have refused to participate henceforth – thus preserving my two match unbeaten run.
As you can imagine, the odds were stacked against me.
I was mostly an obedient child. My spells of insubordination were dealt with swiftly. My parents were firm apologists of the ideology – Spare the rod, spoil the child. Of course, they took it a bit too literally – often expanding the manner of devices that the rod broadly covered. I am from a small town far removed from the glamour and the dreaminess of metro cities. As such, our summers were hot, dry, dusty and unliveable. The rains brought with them the scent of the moist earth, the chirping of the crickets, the fallen mangoes and the dark grey skies. Now that I live out of a box in a metro, I begin to realise how fond I have grown of the rains in our town. Winters were spectacular. Darkness would drown out our town by early evening – and if you were really quiet – you could hear the rustle of leaves as a sole squirrel would scurry across our lawn and the trudging of the carriage trains from miles away. The air would smell of burnt wood and leaves – as we struggled to cope with the cold. There really isn’t much to do in our town. But now that I look back at it – I realise how far we’ve come – telling ourselves the lies that we always do: that we’ve been following our dreams.
As such – most of my childhood was uneventful. The lack of a cell-phone and the limited minutes on phone I was rationed every day would painfully tip me towards the obvious lack of a female companion. I had no access to cable television – I would have to endure an entire week of math, science and English before I was allowed 60 minutes (including commercials) of Friday night cinema. Dil Chahta Hai remains one of the classics that I have never watched beyond the point when Amir Khan leaves for Australia – to cite an instance. I was blissfully unaware of what twelve year olds were up to – what they viewed (and loved to view of course) back then. The lack of interaction with comely women in my neighbourhood – no offense, most of them have turned out to be very beautiful (and married) I reckon – made matters worse for me. As such, I grew up idolising the guy who would study and work hard to get the girl. I absolutely hated confrontations – I simply couldn’t fathom how bad boys attracted ladies. Luckily, I have not had to get my nose punched or my ribs broken in my endeavours to woo my now companion and best-friend in bed and out of it.
Let me tell you about the ideal Bangali dream that every parent works hard to impress unto their sons. He is expected to study hard to the point of muttering Newton’s first law in sleep, ace the entrances and get into an IIT, land a high paying job in a land far, far away and marry an alarmingly quiet bou (under normal circumstances) who can sing like a nightingale, dance like she can set the floor on fire and cook up a storm that can send Gordon Ramsay into a shame spiral. Of course, I fail to see how any of the said skills is relevant to a run of the mill marriage (unless she loves to sing while she participates in the act of furthering the human race with you, but that’d be bloody annoying to be realistic, unless you actually do enjoy that kind of a thing.) My views are enough to send many a parent into a mild fit – but then, I have long digressed off-trajectory. Unfortunately, for my parents, their dreams were about to be undone – ironically of their own doing.