A CAT MASTERCLASS (realistic fiction)
By Neel Anil Panicker
Professor Kumar was not a firm believer in the predictive powers of first impressions. Long years spent whizzing in and out of innumerable classrooms had wizened him up to the harsh reality that appearances could be, and usually are, deceptive.
And so it wasn’t a case of raised eyebrows when he commenced the morning Reading Comprehension class ritual for a batch of prospective B school students, all fresh graduates, mostly engineering, a few even post graduates.
His very first poser hit a wall. “So, how many of you are aware of Roman History.”?
Pin drop silence followed. There they were, some 40 odd young minds, their faces locked in incredulity, the eyes__two black holes staring into nothingness.
After what seemed like an interminably long wait, a wait long enough to put Waiting for Godot to shame, one smart alec, a shaggy long haired stud like persona with biceps that threatened to break free from the tiniest of Tees that one could ever imagine, (and also who looked as if he could do with an oil bath with an hour of vigorous scrubbing thrown in), cleared his croaking throat to grandly announce, “Sir, I am. I know everything about Rome and Roman History. I have seen the movie ‘A Roman Holiday three times’.
Instantly, Professor Kumar’s jaw dropped. Almost in tandem, the dynamics of the class changed too.
Umpteen feet began to shuffle and all eyeballs, as if by a strong gravitational pull, got sucked into the new epicentre of all action which lay somewhere in the extreme right corner of the rectangular air conditioned classroom.
Deciding to latch onto the sudden surge of interest amongst the students, the middle aged professor volleyed his next question, this time to the student at the centre of the unfolding drama, “Great, at least there’s one person who knows something about Rome, who can tell us about the great emperors, the pharaohs, the mummies, the masterfully written Greek Classics and the many tragedies that unfolded in Homer’s Illiad. And so, my dear friend, why don’t you enlighten the class about Athens, Sparta and Helen?”
As the seconds ticked by and as all eyes, which hitherto had shone bright, began to lose interest, came the reply, answered in a high pitched voice with a distinct nasal twang, a sound that by itself reeked of utter insouciance.
‘Sir, I don’t know about the others but I do know that Helen is Salman’s mother. I mean she’s the Bollywood star’s adopted mom.”
This rejoinder served to open the floodgates of crassness and crudity and thereafter, for the next couple of hours, it was a free for all.
By the end of the class the teacher had become the taught and as Professor Kumar bid adieu to the students, he thanked them, one boy in particular, for delivering a master class on Indian History, both Ancient and Modern, including a brief aside on culture, more specifically Bollywood culture.
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Three Things Challenge, 29 August 2018
Today’s things are: Roman, Athens, Sparta