This memory is sponsored by Bollywood and David Dhawan.
If you ask me to name one thing that Bollywood does better than Hollywood, I’d say double roles. Seeta aur Geeta, Ram aur Shyam, Gopi Kishan, Chaalbaaz, Judwaa, and that movie with three double roles, Aankhein.
Double the stupidity, double the fun.
Not only in movies, but in real life as well.
It was the 4th standard Results-and-PTA day. Or that day of the semester when Mom took a half day leave from work to hear my teachers tell her how good I am and how good I can be if I attended school for more than 3 days a week.
Like other normal school kids, I was terrified of PTAs and Result days. However, unlike others, I always went for a preemptive strike and explained all that went wrong in that semester to Mom a few days before Results day so that there were no surprises.Every semester, I religiously reminded her that the ‘Very Good, Very Good, Very Good’ streak will stop at the box where it says ‘Attendance’. It will read ‘Satisfactory’. Ma, do not panic. Remember the food poisoning? Remember the 99 fever? Yeah. That. “Teacher tomake kichu bolug toh bole diyo shorir kharab chilo“*.
To quote Akshay Kumar, ‘everythingwasplanned‘.
This one was a special semester.I had a couple of 99s. Second rank in class, but that was okay. With a 74% attendance, that was quite acceptable. Also, the computer exam didn’t go as expected. The Logo language was unforgiving and I had a couple of RT 90 FD 40s wrong. The complex shape that the program was supposed to make, ended up looking like a toy that someone had stepped on. The computer teacher was not happy, but she thought I had just made a typo somewhere and copied an extra line or something. When you are scoring 99s in other subjects, teachers tend to ignore a couple of your faults (or in my case 23). But Mom had been satisfactorily apprised of the situation and brainwashed to concentrate on the 99s and the good comments that the principal had written.
All was well.
I remember it vividly. I was sitting in the bado ghor (living room) reading a Diamonds comic book when I heard the main gate open. I tossed the comic book aside, crossed the verandah in swift steps, beamed at masi and dida in the process, and faced Mom directly, eagerly anticipating the new GIJOE action figure from Shakti Stores in Kanpur that was mandatory for Results day or Blood Test day.
The first slap came as a surprise. The ones that followed even more so.
Dida and Masi were scandalized.
Mom was merciless. The quality of mercy may or may not have been strained on her but Mom didn’t care.
“Computer ee fail korecho?”**
“You told me you have less marks in Computer but you FORGOT to mention that you hardly got any marks?!”
“In the next Semester, I’m sending you to school even if you have a fever of 104!”
Before dida or masi or neighbours or police could step in, Mom had gone all Sunil Shetty on me. Resistance was futile. Hell hath no fury like a working bengali mother scorned.
I was back in the bado ghor. All alone with my comic book. Tears rained onto the cover. How could this happen? Why did the teacher lie to me? 22? Did none of the RT90s work? Did I confuse RT with LT? At least circle problems should have been right? Does this mean NO GIJOEs? Will I have to go to school every day!?
I could hear Masi and Dida trying to convince Mom that something was fishy. My masis, jethus, jethimas, mamas and maimas had absolute faith in me (till I failed in Math, in class 9th). Masi kept repeating : Why would I convince mom that I got good marks in Computer when I hadn’t? Dida nodded vehemently while reminding mom that she had never hit mom. Ever!
They were not wrong. This was unprecedented.
This was not a part of the script.
Slowly, very slowly, it dawned on Mom that there could be some truth in these allegations.
She opened the report card.
Chitra Adhicary had gone to Wendy School to pick up Shantanu Adhicary’s report card. She went to his class teacher and asked for Shantanu’s report card. The teacher handed her Shantanu’s report card.
Shantanu Dhaundhiyal’s report card.
Shantanu Dhaundiyal had 22 in Computer. Shantanu Adhicary had 92.
David Dhawan wept. I got a GIJOE and a HE-MAN action figure. Mom never picked up a report card without checking the name ever again.
Most importantly, I didn’t have to go to school every day in the next semester.
* If the teacher says something, tell her I was unwell
**you have failed in Computer?