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Class VIII. Or was it VII?

Mathematics period. The Mathematics Teacher in class. (Do note the capitalisations – it’s not without a reason, but that for a later post). Some copies being distributed so everyone on their feet moving about – between the teacher’s desk and their own.

I sit with X. X has gone to get his copy. His notebook lying on the desk. I sense an opportunity.

Now, this X is a friend. But is also the guy who beats me 9 times out of 10 in Mathematics. Big deal? Big fucking deal. And he beats me 9 times out of 10 in overall score. Yes, till he didn’t leave the school, both of us would be either first or second in class – me being second, you guessed it, 9 times out of 10.

So, the moment X leaves, I pull out my fountain pen and write, “X chor hai” on his notebook. An act of pure spite. A kiddish way to get back at a competitor you can’t defeat. Also, I wrote with my left hand, so that handwriting could not be matched.

X returns. Sees his notebook, complaints to The Mathematics Teacher.

Now, I had a curious dynamic with The Mathematics Teacher too. Good words from her meant way more than good words from any other teacher. Perhaps because she was so tough to please. Perhaps because dad always glorified maths as this super cool subject every self-respecting human should excel at. Also because she always took great pains to answer all my questions – and my questions too arose from an interesting place. Somehow, I had heavily bought into the idea that all I needed to do to become a famous mathematician was to falsify any of the theorems taught in school. So, any new theorem or method taught, I would think of conditions when it would not hold. And that popped several questions in my head. And I would stand up and ask. And she would answer them. Am sure most of those questions would be pretty absurd. But she never seemed irritated and never discouraged any questions.

But I digress.

So, X goes to The Mathematics Teacher. She looks at the notebook and says, “Everyone bring their pens here. Check whose ink colour is this.”

And my heart sinks, the ground crashes beneath my feet. Why ink colour? Why?

“Ma’am, shouldn’t we match the handwriting?” I protest, not knowing that I had just given away.

“No,” she says, “Handwriting can be changed.”

So, the ink colours were matched. And it was mine. She just said, “Why do you say that? What has he stolen of yours?” and then let it go.

I now remember I used to write in Blue-Black ink by Chelpark – it had a distinct hue. Perhaps that prompted her to match ink colours. Or she would have done that anyway- no way for me to know.

But that’s how, yet another battle ended – between her, the defender of all ancient mathematics theorems and I, the challenger, only desirous of breaking in any one of them. The result, the same as always – me trudging away with my tail between my legs.

(Photo courtesy: Nicole Honeywill, Unsplash.com)

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