First year of college.
My Basic Civil Engineering exam was due that day, at noon. I was on my way to college with my trusted travel partner – KSRTC. (Don’t have many human ‘travel partners’ yet 😛 ) I was already late and hence abandoned the usual policy of choosing nearly-empty buses only to cram myself into a choc-a-bloc ”Thiruvananthapuram’ red. Five minutes into the journey and I realized what huge mistake I’d made. There I was, clutching a couple of Civil Engineering texts on both hands, with a huge backpack on my shoulders – crushed from all sides by an unruly mob fighting tooth and nail for personal space. I’d an entire text to read, but for fear of my dear life, I could neither open my texts, nor keep them back in the bag – for, both actions would result in irreparable damage to myself from all the ‘churn’ around! 😛
Meanwhile, the conductor came ticket-mongering. After a superhuman effort, I managed to push away a fat man standing on my right side and fished out my purse. A 100 rupee note – its sole occupant silently grinned back at me. Screwed, the conductor guy is goanna swear at me. 😐 Yet, without a tinge of hesitation, I passed on the note to the condcutor, who, without looking up from his ticket-machine, issued me the ticket, pocketed the money and walked away. Thank God, I mused.
Soon, the bus reached a nearby stop – ‘Pongummood’, from where, my buddy Praseeth (batchmate at college) got in. He started his usual speech about how unprepared he was for the exams and how he’s goanna fail. He had no idea about the principle of Leveling, which was the only concept I’d learned well. He entreated me earnestly to explain the concepts to him, for levelling problems were the easiest way to score 10 marks in the essay. Realizing it as a way to revise what I’d learned, I started off, unmindful of the crowded environs. After a while, Praseeth’s sharp intellect had picked up the entire method and he was repeatedly mentioning how easy the whole method was. The bus had reached Pattom Junction and we were just a couple of kilometers away from college. He took a cursory glance at his watch and muttered that we’re really late.
Before I knew it, he’d opened the passenger door and pulled me out of the bus!
Praseeth, not always a punctuality person, was a tad too hyperactive today. He ushered me into an auto, and pushing his lean frame inside, commanded the auto driver to take us to college. He silently assured me that he’d foot the bill and that he wasn’t too enamored about crowded buses. Using the time to discuss other portions, we reached college in a few minutes’ time. Both of us alighted, and I took my purse to pay Praseeth – yeah, I’m very stringent about sharing, so I thought I’d share the auto-cost with Praseeth. I opened my wallet and fished for money.
The purse was empty.
Shocked, I took the purse and re-checked ever recess and niche. There were perhaps a few coins that amounted to Rs. 5/- not a penny more, not a penny less. Dumbfound, I kept searching, meanwhile Praseeth paid the money and was walking over to the classes. After some wild goose chase, I realized my blunder.
Dad had given me Rs. 100/- in the morning. I gave it to the conductor, from whom I did not buy change, thanks to the auto-sojourn and my absent-mindedness. 😐 😐 There I was, broke, penniless and smiling inwardly at myself! Yet, I gathered myself and wrote the exam. Ironically, there was a leveling problem (of the same type I’d explained to Praseeth), and both of us got it right. 🙂 After the exam, collecting all coins I could gather, I caught a bus back home and didn’t mention about my debacle to a soul.
Six months later, the results came. Praseeth scored a neat 80 for the exam while my mark was an okay-ish 68. And I heard him proudly proclaim to his buddies:
“You should’ve studied leveling man! I knew the answer to the problem when I saw the question – that was the only thing I’d studied and I got whopping 20 marks for the essay!”
I couldn’t help but chuckle. 🙂