Friday, December 23, 2016

Lucknow, 2002

When I was in Class 12th, I often
bunked the after-school IIT coaching
classes my parents had forced me into.

'TRIVAG', it was called, more than two
hundred of us packed into benches meant for
half; girls to the right, boys to the left.

TRI-V-AG: Trivedi Sir taught Maths, Verma
Sir taught Physics, Agarwal Sir taught Chemistry.
"Taught", really. It was the first time in my life

I felt I needed air. During coaching hours (if you
had decent marks in 10th, only PCM, I was told,
Arts was for girls and failures) rust ate into benches,

rust ate into the ends of my fingers, I remember pages
meaning little, and I was really afraid of the books
I held in my hands. The unfinished Physics chapters

still range the nights. So the Hero moped and I
must have 'rebelled'. Sometimes, hankering for
fun, I ended up at a friend's house across the Gomti

in Indra Nagar. Killing time. Both of us dancing
to Rahman's 'Taal' or 'Dil Se', at other times we landed
up at this newly opened pizza place opp. Raj Bhavan,

me hogging on the treats he gave. But that one evening,
when August had clouded the air soft brown, and he wasn't
there, I was returning home, still with three hours to kill,

to show I'd been there, then, that evening as the house
neared, for the first time I rode beyond the colony, first time
loitering, did not stop at Aashiyana, must have taken what I

later found was the road to Bijnor, going beyond Bangla-Bazar,
beyond even the railway-line, beyond a never-before, and
I remember I landed up at a village, which has now been

cut-up into colonies, I remember that evening's brown in
the air, me, on the moped, parked, short supari trees, a
green-water lake, mud-coloured sky, asphalt, and at that

edge of Lucknow, for the first time, I remember thinking
there is something else, no name for it yet, but there is
something else, beyond badly taught Maths classes,

something else - that I am going to make my home in.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rewa, 2013

Also in class 12th,the same
books now gnawing at my soul.
My teachers, a different Verma,
a different Sharma, drowning the
class in the acids and bases and
theorems and the tricks that save
my time in an exam meant to map my
intellect.

2013, Rewa - I sit amongst fifty other
"students" and we're asked, how many hours
are you sleeping? SEVEN? And, Sharma sir
telling us how "it's just
these two years, everything is okay after
that."

The two years haven't ended yet.

Akhil Katyal said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. I know what it feels like. Hugs from Delhi.