Monday, October 12, 2009

The Holy Grail

"And thus, we conclude that the hyperbolic cosine of the angle subtended by an arc on the center of a sphere is directly proportional to..."droned the professor in his typical monotonous drawl.

The boy, however, was least interested in spheres and the trigonometrical properties of their arcs. His thoughts were, as the intelligent reader would have correctly assumed, were somewhere far removed from the world of SL Loney and Co.

They, which is used here to refer to his thoughts, were on a piece of paper. A particular piece of paper, to be precise. To be more precise, the piece of paper he had found perched on his desk when he, regular as Swiss clockwork, walked into the classroom before any other of his colleagues.

The boy was honest to himself and so he admitted, again to himself, that he was surprised. The reason for his initial surprise was clear as the beaming sunshine to him. He could think of no one else in his class who could have taken effort enough to come to the class before him. But that was the least of his surprises.

He was surprised that someone could take so much effort as to put on paper those alphabets, those symbols which he had been pining for, so long a time now. But most of all, he was surprised that someone could do such a thing (referring again to the particular piece of paper mentioned earlier) inspite of his somewhat consciously self created image as the biggest snob ever seen this side of outer space. He was surprised to see that in spite of not even acknowledging even the existence of anyone outside his select coterie of so-called friends, there would be someone who would actually care for him so much, who would like him so much as to send him this particular piece of paper.

If the intelligent reader gets the impression that the boy was surprised, he is correct. That is the precise impression intended to be conveyed.

However, coming back to this piece of paper. As he caressed it and felt its surface, matted and rough on one side and smooth and shiny on the other, he felt a strange tingle of excitement run down his spines. You see, he was not used to tingles, and certainly not used to ones running down the particular portion of his anatomy called spine. So, it was a sensation he had never felt before. For the n th time, as he glanced at the paper, he saw the answer to his unrelenting quest for the preceding two years.

He could not help but smile inwardly as he found on the paper the solution to the only problem in organic chemistry he had not been able to solve: Benzene Chloride, when treated with iodine pentafluoride in alkaline medium at 90 deg centigrade, yields benzene fluoride.



PS: An experimental post. Criticism welcome.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Women are supposed to be genetically endowed with the magical genes of impeccable housekeeping. Or at least the women of her family were thus blessed. She marveled at the way they hustled about their homes all day putting things right. She often wondered where they got these never ending spurts of energy from.

She was always too tired to work at home. She hated dusting the furniture, she hated putting things in their right place and she positively detested spring cleaning. What was the point of digging out years and years of stowed away crap, dusting it and rearranging it? She was not the one to live with memories. She had a life to look forward to for crying out loud!

But yet, here she was, as sure as she knew she would be, dusting off the proverbial dust from photo albums, frames, books which were at least more than a decade old. She sighed as she placed yet another clean album on the increasing pile next to her feet. Why could she not let this be? Being a working wife was taxing enough; did she really have to do this unfailingly year after year? It was as if she expected her dead grandmother to haunt her every night till she cleaned her attic at least once.

She blew the dust off an old square book. Memories of her grandmother always made her smile. She squinted at the cover of the book she was holding. It couldn’t be? Could it? She hurriedly relieved the book of the layers of dust. Sprawled across the cover was her barely legible handwriting declaring ‘Private and Confidential’. She had even solemnly signed off her name in the same scrawny handwriting. How old had she been? Four? Five?

Smiling she flipped the book open. She paused at a picture of her crooked teeth. Scrawled below the picture were her angry words; “I hate my crooked teeth!”

She remembered that day so very well. Sid did not want her to play with him and the rest of the boys. But she wanted to play with Sid. Sid was her best friend, her playmate. If he played; she did. They had fought childishly about it. Vexed Sid had screamed, “You just cannot play ok?”

“Why?” she petulantly demanded

“Because,” Sid thought for a moment, “ You have crooked teeth!”

Dumbfounded she watched him as he bounded off with the rest of the boys. Hurt she had scrambled into her favorite corner pulled out her book and written those angry words.


She ran her hand lovingly over the picture. She ran her tongue over her teeth. Twenty five years later she still had crooked teeth. She laughed softly and flipped the pages.

She paused at “ Everything about me is so wrong!” written under a picture of her wearing spectacles. She sighed.
She had been the first girl in her class to done on the hated glasses. She looked at her younger self staring at her from the faded picture. She was in her seventh grade. She could still see the dirt trail made by her tears.

All her classmates had mocked her. She hated going to school. Once during lunch when everybody was mocking her, she decided she had enough. She stood up and announced, “You are jealous because you don’t have glasses! I think they are pretty cool!”

She turned her back on the entire lot and was ready to stomp her way out of the laughter which was bound to erupt when Sid said, “ I think they are pretty cool too!”

She had scrawled ‘Sid is my bestestestestestestestest friend EVER!’ in a blue crayon in the bottom right of the same page.

That day she had thought they didn’t make friends better than Sid.

Lovingly she flipped further. “I hate my hair!”

Oh she remembered this one only too well. They were in junior college and Sid was dating Thelma. She had been hurt. Not because she was in love with Sid or something, but because now most of Sid’s time was taken up by Thelma.

After months Sid and she had decided to catch a movie together. Thelma tagged along. She was furious. It was supposed to be Sid and her time together! How could he invite Thelma? She had been so furious that she had picked a fight with Sid right in front of Thelma.

“You will understand this better when you have a boyfriend,” Sid explained patiently.

“With hair like that, who would date her?” Thelma had scoffed.

She shut the book with a bang. How she hated that boobolicious bitch! Thank heavens Sid had found the sense to let go of her! He would be living a nightmare right now otherwise!

Was she really still affected that strongly by something which had happened about a decade ago? She smiled and reopened the book.

“My first Date” Of course it was a reaction to Thelma’s outburst.

Kushal. Sweet. Simple. Handsome. Kushal.

They had gone to the new year eve bash together. All of them Thelma, Kushal, Sid and her. Sid had taken the protective brother stance and for once ignored Thelma some.

“Are you sure you like this bloke?” Sid had asked her. She had just shrugged her shoulders. Sid did some shrugging of his own.

Kushal. They were still very good friends. Kushal was the kind of guy you could count on. Ten years and going strong; that said something about their friendship. She wondered if Kushal remembered this day?

“Beautiful Me”

This one was during graduation. She was wearing her usual blue denims and a faded pink tee. Her hair was tied up in a pony tail and her bag hung lazily over one shoulder. She had been fretting all day wondering why she hadn’t been asked to the dance party yet.

“Must be because I am ugly,” she confessed as he watched Sid dribble the ball.

“Rubbish!” Sid declared as he basketed the ball.

“Right,” she responded as she scrambled to her feet. Sid let go off the ball and fidgeted within his bag.

“Will you go to the dance with me?” He asked. She turned to look at him and he clicked this picture.

“Don’t you already have a date?” she asked

“Not yet,” he said as he headed towards her, “ But if you turn me down, I will have to try hard to get one.” Sid had never had to try to get a date.

“You are just being a great friend, thanks,” she replied dejectedly.

He put an arm around her shoulder and forced her to look at the screen of the digital camera he was holding, “Look! Have you really seen something as beautiful as her? I think the most handsome guy in the college deserves to take the most beautiful girl in this world to the dance!”

That’s Sid for you, she thought. He could brighten your world in seconds.

She heard feet scrambling. Seconds later, her husband was squeezing himself through the small attic door.

“How’s the mood?” he asked, knowing how much she hated the task

“Rather good, surprisingly,” she smiled at him fondly.

“What?” he asked confused. “You are supposed to be in a foul mood, all upset at having to do this dreaded chore. And then I surprise with the wine in the fridge and the food ordered in from Jughead’s and you that’s when you think I am the best husband in the entire wide world. Where is my plan going wrong? Oh yes! You are not in a bad mood!”

She snuggled to him and said, “But you are still the best husband in the entire wide world!”

He hugged her to him, “Boy! This is why I married you!” he whispered against her year.

“I thought,” she mumbled hugging her scrapbook a little tighter, “you married me because the most handsome guy in all of India had to marry the most beautiful girl in the world!”

His laughter rumbled beneath her palm which rested on his chest.

“Sid?”

“hmmm”

“Imagine if you were married to Thelma!”