Friday, April 21, 2006


Sonu turned to her left and put her hand around the pillow. There was a smile on her lips and a content expression on her face. Life was good, at least in the dream that she was dreaming. Suddenly the shrill tone of the alarm bell pierced through her slumber, and brought her out into groggy wakefulness. She looked around surprised and at the alarm clock. Six AM only. Why had she put the alarm so early in the morning? Usually she never woke up before nine! As she was going back to snoozing after banging the alarm clock off, she suddenly remembered “Exam tomorrow!” She sat up suddenly, totally awake, and shouted, “Mummy!!”

The next hour and a half passed in a flurry of activities, bathing, freshening up, having breakfast, as her mother put everything in front of her. Finally, at seven thirty AM, she took out her book. A look at the fat book made her shudder. The topic was English, and she had not studied a page, yet! She made a quick calculation in her mind. Twenty four hours till the exam. Estimating about four hours for sleeping, and morning ablutions, she had twenty hours left. There were ten topics to cover. That meant that she could allow two hours per topic. She started with the first topic.

Soon she realized that all the material on that topic was not in one place. It was spread throughout the book. In dismay, she turned to the next topic. Soon she realized that all the topics were in the same state! In a state of despair, she shouted, “Mummy!!”
… …

Sonu was sitting in the examination hall. The invigilator was not yet in. She took out her pens and arranged them in a row. She tidied her desk up and got ready to write.

The last twenty four hours had been a period of frenzied activity which she could vaguely remember. Her mother had torn up the book into individual pages. Then she had put together the different topics, like Grammar in a bunch, Composition in a bunch and so on, and stapled the bunches. Her father had then taken these bunches and indexed them as per topic, and cross-referenced them with previous years’ question papers. She had taken up one chapter at a time and somehow she had managed to read all of it before stepping into the examination hall.

The invigilator came in. Everyone stood up to wish him a good morning. As everyone sat down, he went from bench to bench and distributed the question papers. Sonu took her paper and looked at it expectantly. She read the first question. She did not have any clue what it was about. She went to the next one. This one was also as unknown to her. She quickly skimmed through the rest of the question paper. Her heart started beating hard with anxiety. She did not have any idea about any of the questions. It was supposed to be an English examination, but the questions seemed to be all about the life of one person! None of it was there in the book that she had read.

The overhead speakers in the hall came to life, and an announcement was made. “In order to pay our respect to Rajkumar, who died yesterday, today’s exam will be on the life of Rajkumar. Thank you.”

- Adapted from a dream dreamt by my wife.


I had posted a blog on the day Rajkumar passed away, but on further reflection, I found the post unsuitable for publication, so I removed it a day after publishing. Given the number of hits on the website in the 24 hours since I posted this article and before I removed it, several people must have read the post. So here is a brief explanation on why I removed it.

The whole incident where one person died of old age, and several thousand others, as a show of their grief, killed away 8 more, injured hundreds and damaged property worth millions, is of course ridiculous, outrageous, and many more –ous words. My feelings about the incident are still as strong at they were on the day all this happened. However, the post on the incident was more emotional than logical. And I pride myself to be a very logical person. In the same lines, I had accused a whole population of a crime which a handful had committed. So, I feel that the post does not deserve a place in this public blog.

I will post another article on the same issue, if I can get myself to type it out. This one will not have any emotional bantering and accusations.

And yes, although several people have read the post, I am removing it entirely on my own will. No one posted threatening comments, I received no threatening phone calls or sms-es, no one threatened to sue me, or burn IBM laptops in front of the IBM office, and no one promised to wipe away the Amazon rain-forest if I did not remove the post.