A Mix of Dreams, Destiny and Drastic Reality…

A Mix of Dreams, Destiny and Drastic Reality… 

( I needed extreme courage to share this story from my life…) 

I turned out to be a brilliant student in school…topping the class, invariably.. throughout. Though my best friend Chanda would usurp the position from me many times. A friendly arrangement between us! No hard feelings or a deadly competition. We both enjoyed it. 

In class tenth, with my best friend Chandra getting the second position, I stood first. Bauji must have nurtured some dream for me. I, too, along with Bauji, started to dream of the medical college and would look in admiration at all those who passed by carrying white overalls carelessly dangling down their shoulders…while I walked to Sanjauli college with dreams in my eyes. But that was not to be. And today I have taken courage to speak all about the tumbling down of the dreams that I nurtured.

Bauji had nurtured,secretly, another dream for me…Civil services. One day Bauji

 brought home the syllabus of IAS examination as one of the clerks, some Mr. Negi, working in the Post-office had cleared IAS and Bauji had started to dream of his Kalo doing the same being so brilliant. But destiny had another plans laid down for me.

It was perhaps the year 1973 or 1974…don’t remember exactly as the brain deliberately downplays all the painful memories. It is surprising that I have not heard anything about it in this group. Those were the years when Himachal Pradesh University was, perhaps at its lowest ebb…the rumours were afloat that question papers of the final examination were out before the actual date of examination. We, too, wanted to have some inkling of the probable questions that we would have in the examination but it was believed by the girls in our group that either you must have an elder brother, a “dada” kind  or a boyfriend who would scour these for you. Not for the girls, those poor unescorted ones! Unfortunately, neither did I have an elder brother or a boyfriend who could have helped the “damsel in distress!” How I wished to have an armoured knight-in-waiting to get for me those alleged question papers!! 

One of our friends, having an elder “dada”  type of brother, supplied a few topics which could be there in the Chemistry paper to be held the next day…excitedly I memorized all those equations with trembling heart and fingers crossed. Wrote them religiously in my notebook to give it another lick right before I finally entered the examination room in Sanjauli college. Remembering and praying to all the gods that I knew of, I glanced at the question paper and would you believe me one of the questions carrying 05 marks, perhaps, was exactly what I had been secretly shared with by my friend (via her brother). But no other questions were there. I thought of attempting that question before I would forget balancing all those dreadful equations. Since the question paper carried only 60 marks, even 5 marks were good enough for me. 

One of our friends, having an elder “dada”  type of brother, supplied a few topics which could be there in the Chemistry paper to be held the next day…excitedly I memorized all those equations with trembling heart and fingers crossed. Wrote them religiously in my notebook to give it another lick right before I finally entered the examination room in Sanjauli college. Remembering and praying to all the gods that I knew of, I glanced at the question paper and would you believe me one of the questions carrying 05 marks, perhaps, was exactly what I had been secretly shared with by my friend (via her brother). But no other questions were there. I thought of attempting that question before I would forget balancing all those dreadful equations. Since the question paper carried only 60 marks, even 5 marks were good enough for me. 

The invigilators on duty, roaming carelessly, became alert as the principal, with another teacher, perhaps Prof. Bisht, entered the room. Both of them were going to the seats of girls and asking them something in whispers. No one knew what it was. I was busy doing the paper when they came to me and asked in a low whispering voice, “the copy where some solved questions are written, is it yours?” I always have been a person of the category, “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”…an impertinent fool, not wrongly analysed by one of the friends in the group. Shocked at being caught, and frozen to utter a word, I moved my head up and down to record my ascent to the crime. How could I say NO?? The smirk on their face said it all, “come and meet me in my office after the paper,” said the principal sir. Relieved that they had caught the criminal, they left the room, leaving me hot rushed and too numb to write any answer in my sheet. I was afraid..would I be handed over to the police or would they call Bauji. What would I say to my friends when they would want to know why I was summoned to the office of the Principal? I had not ever been to his office, even once! 

I could not think any further…I somehow completed the paper, whatever I could write and handed it over to the teacher in the room. 

Coming out of the room, I cleared my head in the fresh air and dashed to the office of the principal…the small room with beautiful bay-windows, with vines running on the exterior walls, which I had always admired from outside, lacked all charm today. The principal showed me a copy and said in a stern voice, “Is this your notebook?” I looked at it and almost fainted as it was NOT my notebook and I had, like a nitwit, moved my head up and down saying my assent. “No.” I said. Perhaps they were not satisfied. Taking permission, I ran outside to bring my notebook. The principal saw my handwriting in the notebook and moved their heads from side to side, as the copy in their hand was written in entirely different hand. It didn’t match! I looked at that notebook and was further shocked for two reasons…the notebook had answers to the complete question paper and second was that  I could recognise the handwriting of “the friend” who had so magnanimously shared 5 marks note with us. The worse was that she had refused point blank that the copy outside the examination room was hers!! So smart of her. And here I was standing before them for something which I had not done. The result was…I failed in the Chemistry paper. And the real subject of the crime, that girl, ….passed with flying colours and got many more successful achievements.

 Not to bring the skeletons out of the cupboards, it suffices to say that my dreams were shattered and so were my Bauji’s. Fathers are a rare species…they dream big for their kids.. Here I was having failed in a subject which I dreaded like plague hereafter…

I was shattered but not broken and now can say with certainty…destiny always has a plan for you. In the words of Steve Jobs..looking backward all the dots connect into a pattern, a beautiful shape, ..the dots which seemed so disconnected, once upon a time,..in Simla of the Seventies! Would write what turn my life took after this….

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