The invite was fluttering in the late December breeze..lying aimlessly near the window sill.
It was from his school alumni association.
"No..i am not going"
"Ram..stop being a kid..is this the age to protest against going to school" laughed Uma.."and by the way there wont be any classes for you to attend.."
Ram kept quiet and started switching channels in TV..his usual way of ignoring Uma.
"Raaaaaammmmm RRRRR....how many times should i ask you...whats the formula for vinegar" bellowed Chandra mam.."cha..who allowed these people into science group ...fit only for commerce..inga vanthu en kazhutha arukuthunga"
There was wide spread giggles. Thats nothing new for Ram, as it was a daily affair, for whom chemistry spells che"mystery". But had it not been for his science teacher..no one in his class would've even noticed him.
Ram - the perennial underachiever in a class of super bots. His parents, with the wish of giving him the best education possible, enrolled him in a school which was an assembly line for producing top notch performers. The previous 4 years IIT toppers where from that school and that year batch was no less different. Somehow Ram managed to clear the entrance test to secure a seat. Right from day one he felt alienated in that class of 33 IIT-is-my-birth-right students (3 gals and 30 guys).
"Hey Ram..you've Irodov's book with you? i wanted to check one problem in that..but forgot my copy at home" asked Kapil.
Kapil stood with his mouth open, as if Ram had uttered the most horrific swear word known to mankind, and perplexed, as if how can one not know Irodov . He walked back to a gang who was busy debating on some Fermoss theorem, shaking his head. Later Ram came to knew that it was "Fermat's" theorem .. someone revered by every Maths student.
It didnt take Ram too much time to realise that he simply didnt belong there and soon faded out from the memory of this batchmates when his science teacher got bored with pouring her ire on him. Infact it was rumoured that she had recommended him to be sent away for the sake of maintaining the school's clean state reputation of all IIT grads.
One day during lunch time, Ram was happily reading a Archie's comic, he didnt even realise someone was standing next to him. He turned back to see Gautam standing behind him with a sheepish grin on his face.
Ram was too stunned to speak. Gautam was THE blue eyed boy of THE class. He had been hailed as a genius by no less than Chandra mam and was touted to be the next IIT number one ranker.
"Sorry if i have disturbed you.."
"izaaoookaayee" slurred Ram, surprised that the Einstein of his class was actually talking to him.
"Its ok..fine i said..you want to read this you can have it..i have read it already"
"huh..u read the same thing again?"
"just like chemistry for you..its comics for me"
"hahaha..the guys are right..you ARE weird..wish i could read this now..but got lot of assignments pending..by the way..arent you also supposed to submit it today? you're done with them already is it?"
"duh..as if chandra mam would care..anyway..i couldnt understand a single damn thing in that list which she gave yesterday"
"hmm..actually i am talking about the one she told in the first hour today which we are to submit before the post lunch period...good luck by the way" grinned Gautam and went to his seat.
All hell broke out that day..and unable to cope up with the insult barrage, Ram begged his parents to take him away from that school and joined elsewhere. He completed his final year of schooling in peace and to everyone's surprise took up graduation in Science. But no one was surprised to see the result of his erstwhile batchmates. Gautam became the IIT topper that year and out of the 33 (minus one) students..25 of them made into IIT.. rest of the 8 decided to try again the next year. As was the norm of those days..the IITians next claimed their rightful place for M.S at the American Universities which welcomed them with red carpet.
He felt a hand on his shoulder and realised that he had dozed off watching TV.
"What..again you went into your dream world is it..didnt even switch off the tv!!" Uma asked with a false mocking tone.
Ram kept quiet and went to the kitchen to drink water.
"Why are you so serious?..anything wrong??"
"No...nothing..you go to sleep..let me stand in the balcony for sometime...need some fresh air"
Few days back in one of the social networking sites, he had came across the profile of Kapil. The profile wore the proud colors of Cambridge. There he saw the list of all his batchmates..each one making his mark on some ivy league institute and happily settled in US, their dream destination. He was sweetly surprised to see a friend invite from Gautam, who was now a researcher cum faculty at Stanford University. On this backdrop, came the invite from the alumni association. Ram was quite surprised that they still had his name on their rolls.
Next day morning..
"Yes dear..tell me"
"My teacher wants to talk to you"
"Did you do any mischief in class"
"No..no..she said she wanted to talk to you regarding our school Annual day"
"Yeah Ram..she told me too when i went to the PTA last week..i forgot to tell you" said Uma.
"Why? they want any donation? arent they robbing us enough in the name of fees?"
"Dont be a prude..you remember how much struggle i had to go through to get Shyam into this school"
"ok..ok...i will meet her today before i go to office."
At the school...
"Hi Can i talk to the class teacher of 1 B"
"Yes..you are....i am Geeta..may i know whose parent are you?"
"I am Shyam's dad..he said you wanted to meet me regarding annual day function..if you can tell me how much donation you want i can give you a cheque for that"
Geeta looked puzzled.."we dont want donation Sir..i spoke to your wife last week. Didnt she tell the reason why i wanted to talk to you?"
"No...whats it regarding? Shyam's studies is it? he is behaving properly right?"
Geeta could notice a touch of apprehension in his voice.
"No..No..relax..actually we wanted to know if you could be our chief guest in this years annual day. When we asked your wife she said it would be better if we talk directly with you. So we called for you."
Ram was stunned for a moment. He was not sure how to react. For a popular public speaker he was lost for words at that moment. He accepted the honour and mumbled his thanks confirming his participation. His mind was too agitated and was in a happy state of turmoil. on the way back he subconsciously drove past his old school...leaving its shadows behind.
Merry Christmas folks :)