-A tale of a God sent impersonator-
As ever, it was I who decided that we must be bunking* our Financial Accountancy class that day and Salma, as ever wasn’t very happy about my decision. Sitting in the class feigning interest in the subject that was being taught, was the last thing that I wanted to be doing that day. For some reason (I hope to investigate that reason soon), numbers have always scared me. They managed to give me nightmares that nothing else could ever give. I used to get recurring dreams of a math monster chasing me for several kilometers before finally getting me. I quickly manage to always wake up from the dream as soon as the monster grabbed me, cos it’s far too scary for me to continue to see the dream, in order to learn what happened to me next! I censor my dreams, when they get too gory, oh yes I do. Anyways, let’s keep math out of my blog. That’s one thing that would never get the privilege to feature in my blog! No, not now, not ever! For the nth time – I hate you, maths!
Salma, however, though not a great lover of anything that involves numbers either, wanted to attend that FA class, ‘cos she was beginning to suspect that we have a drought in our attendance record, esp. in that subject. Continuing to bunk those classes would prove suicidal, she knew. But I was never the one to give up, nor worry over petty issues like attendance and its shortage. Another reason why hated attending this particular class was because, by attending it, I’d horrifyingly realize how little i knew of the subject and realization would quickly dawn on me (usually within the first 5 minutes of commencement of the class) that chances of passing in this subject was very bleak- as bleak as trying to find a hay colored needle well camouflaged in a haystack! That would be too much of a disappointment to be facing every day. I’d be better off without that. Moreover, when in my life time, would i ever need to practically be doing some financial accounting? Never! I had already made up my mind about this one. Anything but Accounts for me!
Therefore, why insult the poor lecturer and his subject by not paying enough attention in his class, was how i defended my case. I had better things to do, better plans hatched rather than attend some class, where i’d only be physically present but my mind would have taken off. My plans usually were like this- browse and purchase some really interesting books, spend some ‘quality’ time at a cafe coffee joint with our seniors, do a bit of window shopping (‘cos mostly we’d be broke from injudicious spending of our pocket money & to get an idea for what I must be nagging my parents to get me for my upcoming birthday), stage or participate in protests against animal cruelty, launch a surprise visit & rescue exotic birds & animals from from an infamous pet market which was around 6kms from college, visit our local animal shelter & donate our old clothes, which would help keep the pups warm during winter; run amok on a street in Gandhibazar, famous for eateries, not able to make up our minds on what we should begin feasting on first; sneak out to my roof terrace & perch ourselves atop the water tank, from where we used to get a grand view of our ‘then very green’ city and discuss some serious philosophy (I’m saying this with a straight face, promise) and trust me, my mom would not even have a clue that her daughter was right there on the terrace; visit the famous Jain temple near my place and enjoy its sheer beauty & tranquility in total silence, etc. Ah well, there is no end to that (maybe I’ll consider writing a new post exclusively on my creative ideas to spend time whilst on a college bunk! ). Anyways, it was our conscious effort to not make boyfriends, though many proposals came our way. We were in no hurry nor desperate for a boyfriend. There is always a time & a phase of our lives meant for that, we believed. We had enough very dear friends who were ‘boys’ though.
Salma, no matter how much she’d hate me for saying this, never ever managed to win many arguments with me. That day was no special day for her either, ‘cos we bunked and bunked not just the FA class but the entire second half of our college session, thanks to me. We saw a movie that we knew was a disaster at the box office, but that was okay. It was better than our FA class and its torture, i figured. We both could have actually made for good movie critics, ‘cos each time we watched a movie that we had already seen before, our comments on the actors, their costumes, movie plot, direction and other things movie related, only got better and better and more professional. My parents would have taken me straight to psychiatrist had I expressed my desire to become a ‘movie critic’. That line of career wasn’t even recognized back then, let alone being accepted. That was one reason I decided to keep mum about my various career options and plans. I did not want my parents to either faint or rush me to a doctor specialized in psychiatry.
Our college lives went on this way. I guess it would be wrong to say ‘college lives’, cos we rarely were in it. Soon our first year in college, or rather out of it, came to an end. Our classmates, mostly nerds were busy preparing for the exams, which according to me was still a long way to go. Two ‘long’ months away! My father ensured i joined a college like that (with many nerds in it), hoping against the dimmest hope, that in the company of those nerds, his notoriously mischievous daughter would be forced to become one too. This unfortunately was never was the case. Instead a few nerds, threw away their nerdy glasses and begged to join our ‘fun’ gang. According to me, only the seriously psychos would commence studies that early. According to my other classmates, however, with barely two countable months to go, i was the seriously psycho, to have not even purchased the prescribed text books needed to study and subsequently pass in the exams that followed. Well, people always look crazier on the other side! (don’t ask me, ‘of what?’, it’s definitely not fence, ‘cos thank god my college compound had no fence, else it would have my task of escaping from there more difficult, though not impossible!). God has always been kind to me, for somehow, i always manage to pass the examinations & get some decently good results. That year was no different either. Thank you God! Continue to bless me this way & I’ll continue to make you proud!
It was that time of the year again- ‘pay the exam fees, collect the hall ticket and suffer a panic attack at the end of it’, with me being an exception to the last one of course. Both Salma and I collected money from our parents to pay towards our exam fees. With a faked expression of a ‘serious nerd’ on my face (i told you that we watched a lot of movies), I collected money from my dad, who seemed to love that expression on my face, but only after adding a few hundreds extra to the prescribed exam fees in order to facilitate our fun escapades outside college. Poor dad would soon be disappointed, when once the results are declared, i thought. But then that would be long enough time for him to recollect the expression i wore on my face while i was ‘extracting’ money from him, so no problem.
We then went to college to pay our fees, when the office staff flatly refused to give us the examination forms, saying we were both pathetically low on our attendance and that we had to meet the principal along with our respective parents and take a written permission from him, before being allowed to sit for our exams. It did not come much as a surprise to me, for i had always expected it. But this was too much for Salma who hailed from a very conservative family. For that matter, i am from a super conservative family myself too, but my poor family forgot all about how to continue to be conservative, soon after my birth into its family tree. My sympathies to my parents (and i really mean it). Salma knew and feared that should her parents learn about her college escapades, she would be made to discontinue college and a hunt for a suitable groom for her would commence with immediate effect. These thoughts made tears well up in her eyes. Now, this was too much for me too, as this meant losing a friend and that too, too soon, barely after one year into college. I had to do something about it. This issue wasn’t much of a problem for me, as my parents had by now become immune to the various shocks that i was capable of giving them, only the voltages differed each time- sometimes less, sometimes fatally powerful. I knew my mother would surely bail me out of this situation, although it’s a different issue that she’d try her best to thoroughly make me regret for it, but that’s a small price you sometimes pay for fun, fun that comes once in a lifetime and and too only when you are young. So, that was completely fine by me.
Though not as dumb as the now extinct dodo, my principal wasn’t that much of a fool either, to not recognize my mother if she were to meet him again as Salma’s mother. So pleading for my mom’s help in this situation was ruled out. Who else could then rescue my friend, her education and her right to be single for a few more years… and most importantly, save our friendship from a potential ‘unnatural’ marriage to Salma!? Damn! I shouldn’t have made Salma bunk so much!
We walked out of the campus pondering of ways to save the day. I made a quick call to my mom and asked her to come to my college, to do what she had been doing for several years now (from the time i was enrolled to school, to be precise)- meeting my principals and hearing to their complaints about me. She was furious as ever, but she had no choice but to come and meet my principal. It would take her half hour’s time to reach our college. I, at least, was assured of my hall ticket. But what about Salma? We were deeply lost in thoughts and ideas to save Salma, when suddenly to my own surprise and to Salma’s of course, i found myself halting a middle aged woman walking on the footpath, who looked old enough to have a daughter our age. This was my act of extreme desperation. I stopped the lady right on her tracks and requested with her (which sounded like a little more than request and a little less to begging) to come meet our genius of a principal, as Salma’s mother. The poor woman was totally taken aback, i could easily say that from her expression. Before she could think about what was happening and then react negatively, i got out all my acting skills that i had acquired from watching movies, many movies and sometimes the same movies again and again, to convince her and stop her thinking process dead. I told her with a very sad face, how the fate of my innocent, hapless friend’s education was entirely depended on her and that if she refused to help us out from this situation, my poor friend would be forced to quit college, marry, maybe someone twice her age and be packed off to some ‘god knows where’ land. If only she co-operated and agreed to meet our principal as Salma’s mother, all these prospective tragedies could be easily avoided, I told her. The lady’s expression changed from being taken aback to a more sympathetic one. Just try a little harder and you’ll win her over, my mind seemed to tell me in the chaotic background. The woman surely must have been so taken aback that i felt, her reasoning had deserted her, otherwise who would agree to something as insane as this. I just wanted to try my luck and it clicked! She acknowledged! WOW! Why isn’t everybody like her, so nice and agreeing?
Soon afterwards, we bolted back to the college and met our principal, who made us face the music, a very unpleasant one, i must add (my mom had joined us by now). He then looked victoriously at Salma and me, believing he had screwed our happiness for good. It would now be our parents turn to blast us & make us miserable once we got home, he thought with sadistic pleasure. This too i could tell from his expression. Our new impersonator hung her head in shame as if she had borne Salma herself. Who would have thought that one day I’d make a complete stranger act? ‘Salma’s mother’ apologized to the principal & so did my mom (i guess it was easier for my mom, ‘cos she by now, had a list of apology templates ready on her tongue tip, acquired since many years of experience in using them; she now would just need to pick the one that best suited the occasion).
Our princi charged us a fine amount for each subject that we had shortage of attendance in (i see that as a small price for the big fun), issued the permission letter and let us off the hook. I profusely thanked the woman who saved us that day and then stopped continuing to thank her, as i felt thanking her too much would make her conscious & want to introspect the whole issue and when she does, she’d realize what silly thing she had gotten herself into. I did not give her that chance. She was very happy and carried herself like a social worker, with her smile suddenly turning very noble like, from a good deed done, deed of saving innocent students from a tyrannical principal.
God bless that lady. If today Salma and I are still friends, it’s only because of that god sent stranger or maybe it was god himself in disguise, i can never say for sure. Sometimes, God’s miracles work in the strangest ways and when you least expect them!
Once again, thank you dear stranger turned impersonator, I haven’t forgotten what you saved us from!
Disclaimer: This is a not a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely intentional. The names, however, have been changed to protect identity!
*‘Bunk’ (verb), basically means to skip a class or the whole day of college or school when you’re actually supposed to be there. It’s a regional slang.