Compared to the other children in the class – Bharat was among the “toppers”. He was smart, diligent, hard-working and always got good results. However, by appearance, he looked so average that no-one would have believed that he was as smart as his grades. His oily hair always smelt like a cross between putrid coconut oil and stale jasmine flowers and his oversized shirts always drooped over his shoulders. But appearances had no impact on his performance, except from the tough Na Chi, the oriental boy who always stood first in class. At times, people felt something surreal in Na Chi’s excellence – he was good in academics, was built like a horse and worked like one to, was excellent in sports – in fact last year, he took the honour of the most golds in the school’s sports extravaganza. And unlike Bharat, Na Chi was always well dressed and quite wealthy too. At times, he lent money to Sam, the Caucasian boy from across the Atlantic. And whatever Na Chi pursued, the whole class would try and emulate. One night, as Bharat was preparing to say his prayers before gargling his throat and going to bed, he heard a distinct sound. It sounded like someone was blowing into a bucketful of soapy solution. Bharat walked up to his window and saw a slightly startled Na Chi quickly put something behind his back, and slink away to his room. Later that night, as Bharat tossed and turned in his bed, due to disturbing dreams of a gaunt face with a white stubble, and jet black hair talking from his hospital bed, about separating the spicy rice eaters from the eat spicy ricers, Bharat woke up to see floating bubbles outside his window. He looked out and thought he saw Na Chi’s silhouette slink into the bushes beyond, but given his sleepy state, he could also have been dreaming. He turned back to his bed, but the disturbing thoughts of separating his favourite pancake, the green pesarattu, from its best accompaniment, the gongura pachadi, pained him and he decided to study instead before going back to sleep. He had his monthly exam results due the next morning. So Bharat went to class and knew that he would do well, and was actually in a happy mood (despite the tearing thought of his bad dreams) and waited till 11:30 for his results. He was not too disappointed with it, he had aced it once again, though not with the expected 14/15 marks, but a very respectable 10.3. Others in the class would not even get above 5 in these tests, and even Na Chi was not too far ahead at 12. Yet, the Indian teachers scolded and derided him for the poor grades and sent him to detention class.
Once a month, D Street gears up for some “good news” – the IIP numbers. In recent times, it has been dolling up the street with green buntings to welcome some good news; which it does little to contribute to, but expects a lot from. The D Boyz hop about like little lambs on a green paddock and bleat some niceties, until the announcement is officially made. Then they behave like school teachers who think that the pupils must do well even if they were lousy in explaining the lessons. They reprimand the pupil for every tiny little mistake even if the results are in the top percentile. The D Boyz were no different today – so when the IIP figures of 10.3% were announced, they derided the economy and pressed the red button to push the SENSEX down into the red. They refused to listen to any reasoning and ended the day at 70 points down – 17119. If you looked at the performance since last weekend, this is a mere 19 points up! Totally flat.
Bharat dragged his feet out of the classroom and after his detention class, went back to his room wondering where he went wrong. He will now spend the weekend analyzing each paper and discussing them ad nauseum with his tutorial teacher and parents. He will perhaps skip that wedding reception party and keep buzzing back and forth from the library to the school to the laboratory and back to his room. Bharat does not know that his teachers in school would have forgotten this by the time the weekend begins and no-one would know whether the brisk bubble bottle sale in the campus store was for a party or something else.
Cheers and have a nice weekend…….