One of the nicer things that makes life seem more agreeable is the unexpected surprise that springs up now and then. Sometimes life is a lot like a treasure hunt. Just when you are down and low, theres a surprise waiting around the corner that pulls your mood way up and makes you all cheery and happy all over again.
That somewhat is how about 60 of us felt on a particular day some years back. But the day started from a rather low point.
Nausea. Headache. Resentment. Resignation. Annoyance. Irritation.
All these and more assaulted all of us. Simmering anger, largely at ourselves, put a frown on all our foreheads. And behind each frown quivered a brain intoxicated with performance anxiety.
Our collective self-doubt slipped further and further as the time drew closer to 10 am. It was not going to be a good day, and we could tell we were not going to have very fond memories of the Electrical Lab exam. Always a pain in the you-know-where. An overpowering sense of gloom hovered over every head that was under the roof of the long corridor.
And you will be awarded no special points for guessing that I shared a similar disposition that morning. I was not spared either.
Shanky had already reached. He seemed more composed.
“Ennada, know all the circuits?”
“Not sure”, I was grimacing. “It all looks the same now!”
“I know 3 of them very well.” Shanky was one of those smart kids. He could always get better mileage from lesser effort simply by being cleverer and applying more thought. He could predict more accurately what questions are more likely and had a high-probability gut feel for what might be asked in the exam.
Although he appeared composed, you could tell the cloud of gloom was hovering over his head too.
Now, in situations such as this, when you are surrounded by people, everyone with a cloud of gloom over the head, a general feeling of depression and negative energy overcomes you.
And so when a little bit of cheer and sunshine appears unexpectedly, you perk up and tend to take notice. 60 heads bobbed up to watch the spectacle on the corridor.
For there appeared, among all those frown infested faces, one face that displayed no hint of a frown.
Orijit Monty was in fact smiling cheerily.
He was a sure odd man out. One man glowing among a crowd of sombre students of II year Engineering. He was in fact beaming.
Granted that part of the effect was due to the fact that he had a large, really large forehead and there was a distinct, perpetual shine on that forehead . And on the days he oiled his hair, it shone more. Orijit Monty’s forehead was so large that you couldn’t tell if his hair was receding or if his forehead was encroaching his scalp.
I walked up to him. “Kya bey! What gives?!” His cheer was annoying.
“17 circutein. Sab pud liya kya?” He asked with a mocking grin.
Of course I hadn’t. “Haan Haan!! Of course. Of course I have” I said. The ass was apparently on top of it all. Huh? Wait! Did he just say 17!? “17? Where is 17? It’s only 13!”
“Abay Gan&%^#!! its 17!” And there followed a mirthful laugh.
Orijit was one of those people that colleges across the world regularly throw up year after year, whose stories of quirkiness and SantaBantaness are carried by the rest of the class for the rest of their lives.
And to be laughed at by O.M.!! Shanky couldn’t stop himself. His gloom disappeared and his head almost fell off laughing at me.
But Orijit was not yet done with me.
“Abay, Idhar dekh” From his pocket, he pulled out tiny pieces of paper with the circuits and readings all written down. Great.
10 am came. We all shuffled inside the lab. I picked a chit that was written in Latin or French I am not sure. They gave me two Rheostats. some wires, an OHM meter, a large table attached to a panel mounted with some dreadful looking switches and some coloured bulbs you’ve seen in the villains hide-out in Indian thriller movies of the 70’s. There was a crude looking motor on the side.
In half hour the circuit diagram was to be shown and approved. And then you have an hour and a half to set the circuit and take readings.
Orijit was in full swing. The examiner came to his table.
“Circuit!” he said handing his paper with relish. That stupid grin was broader now.
Ravi Sir, the external examiner looked at him quizzically while taking the sheet.
“Ok. Make the circuit” he said
“Is yours ready?” He was talking to me.
“Err..almost. Almost sir”
“Show me what you have done…”
I handed my sheet apprehensively. I had done about 40%. And that darned motor flummoxed me. Where does the red wire go?
He scribbled something on my sheet. “You have 15 minutes more!” he said glaring at me. I was pleasantly surprised! The man had finished the rest of the circuit for me!
A minute later Shanky turned to me beaming. This man was dissolving the cloud! He was bringing the smile back on our faces!
Orijit meanwhile was waving and jumping to catch the attention of Ravi Sir.
“Sir!” he boomed across the lab.
“I am done sir”
Ravi Sir turned slowly. Walked up to him.
Orijit proudly thrust the paper into his hands with pride and a little perceptible arrogance.
He grinned at all of us while his paper was being checked.
“You can leave the lab” Said Ravi Sir.
Orijit was proud of himself. And let it show. He hopped and skipped his way to the exit bestowing each of us with a sparkling grin.
“Please come back next year! You are suspended” continued Ravi.
Orijit stopped abruptly.
Ravi turned to the rest of us.
“Power is expected in another ten minutes. Everybody finish your circuits before that!”