neelwrites/pain,truth’speskycousin/reena’sexplorationchallenge#08/shortstory/fiction/1642words/20/10/2017

week-8

Written for https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2017/10/13/reenas-exploration-challenge-week-8/

PAIN, TRUTH’S PESKY COUSIN, SETS YOU FREE

By Neel Anil Panicker

Pin drop silence prevailed; all eyes hooked onto the dashing young man at the front, all ears latching onto every single word that was being uttered.

Rachel, sitting in the front rows, closed her eyes and wandered into dreamland.

“It’s all in the eyes, the way we perceive things, look at people.

They are what we chose them to be­­—- our best friends, or worst enemies.”

‘What is it about love that makes you go weak in the knees; leaves you mumbling and fumbling, trembling and stumbling like a gawky ten year old?’

Rachel opened her eyes and gazed into the man in front of her.

No Gucci shoes or Armani suit, Rolex watch or Bond Street tailored clothes?

No Body Shop fragrance oozing out of a six pack six foot tall movie star persona? Not even a deep edgy baritone?

Then what was it that this very ordinary looking thirty something man who taught her class twice a day had that made her go weak on the knees? Made her get up from bed even on days when her body temperatures touched an alarming 104 degrees Celsius, made her attend every single class of his, come rain or shine, even if it meant foregoing her weekends, exarcerbating her already frayed relationships with her roommates and ex-college friends?

She decided to figure out for herself and clasping her hands under the table, she listened to the words of the man, hoping to find a solution to the mystery that was eating into her vitals, keeping her endlessly awake all through the tortuous nights dreaming fantastical visions of her and her Prince Charming.

“Confrontation. That’s what we have come to. We, and that includes every single person on this planet has been pushed to the wall and believes that the only way out is to fight back, retaliate, adopt a confrontationist attitude.

This is the single most reason that we are become distrustful of one another, both on an individual level and on the scale of nations and nationalities.

Look over and you will find manisfestations of this phenomenon—-Nations are fighting each other; nationalities laying claim t supremacy over others, spreading malice, hatred, animosity, and violence all around, falsely, stupidly, or ignorantly claiming themselves to be superior to others, trampling on the pride, ego and rights of others, bringing nations to the heel, hurtling them to the precipice of war and destruction.

It seems everyone is on the warpath, fighting nonexistent battles, battling invisible demons of their creation, causing not just themselves but all around them massive pain and hurt. It is time to change this mindset. It’s time we confront our own inner demons and crush them once and for all so that the truth sets us free. It is time we engage with mankind, with every single person that we meet and encounter on equal terms, with compassion, with empathy, and with love, immense love that comes from the inner wellsprings of our hearts, hearts which must know only to give and share and are full of care. It’s time we change ourselves and thereby change this beautiful world that we inhabit. It’s time we make love, not war.”

Utter silence enveloped the class, not a single human sound or whisper, no shuffling of legs, or even rustling of papers, not even the faint sound of the early morning breeze that snakes in through the open windows.

Rachel, like all others in the classroom were in a deep trance. Never before had someone so captured their collective consciousness like this young man had through his utterings, his words had a power, his thoughts came loaded with a wisdom culled from centuries old sages and were timeless.

Someone from the back rows clapped, a few whistled, and then it was as if the dam had burst__within seconds the whole class had erupted in thunderous applause, their full throated lusty shouts of approbation resounding in the corridors and beyond long after the class had eneded and young man at the centre of attention had made his exit.

For a good fifteen minutes after all the commotion had died down and the class had emptied itself out, Rachel still sat transfixed to her seat, wondering how and when a mere Personality Development Class had managed to usher in so huge a change in her.

How could a person, a young man at that who incidentally also taught Verbal Ability could speak so well, hold such deeply insightful beliefs, have such an evolved world vision.

A lot many such questions assailed her and she, despite racking her mind far and wide, was unable to get concrete answers to them.

But she knew that this person, in the course of a mere 120 minutes, had filled her heart with positivity and an excitement that she hitherto had thought wasn’t possible to achieve.

Here impoverished childhood, her overriding feeling of inferiority had deadened all passion from ever forming in her small heart was what she had thought so far and what she believed to be true until…

Until…the class had changed her and now, she wanted to meet the person responsible for the change.

So thinking, she got up and walked out of the classroom, looking for an opportune moment to meet and confront her new benefactor, the one she knew held answers to the questions that beguiled her mind.

 

A week later…

“Your name is Meena, and you have questions to ask me, right?

How could he? How could he have known all this, wondered Meena as she closed the door behind her and walked towards the empty chair in front of her.

“It’s in your face, in your eyes, in the way you look at me when I take classes.”

What was he, a saint, clairvoyant, a soothsayer, a magician…, He seemed to know exactly what was crossing her mind and bothering her all this time.

Meena decided not to beat around the bush and confronted him headlong.

“How could you be so clever and insightful. How do have all the answers, always, Sir”?

‘Deepak Matrani. That’s my name, Those who know me address me as simply Deepu. I will resolve your dilemma today. Come, have  a look at me. What do you see? A young man, reasonably well dressed, well behaved and cultured, and now as per you clever and insightful as well.

Well, the foundations of what you see today in me was set two decades ago in a small village in Bolangir district of Odisha. Have you heard of Bolangir? It is the district that regularly draws international attention for the dubious distinction of the maximum number of child starvation deaths in the world. Not very long ago, I too would have been a mere statistics, adding my tiny, puny might to that empirical data, yet another number for the world to gape at and shake their heads in shame and disbelief and then, quite impassively move on to the next sob story around the world.

But fate had other plans in store for me. I survived, miraculously grew up sans parents, sans schooling, sans love, sans anything.

One day a lady found me lying unconscious in a roadside ditch, my skeletal frame smeared in human excreta, filth and dirt.

I was twelve when she brought me to her home, ‘Saviours of Humanity’, and that’s where I lived for the next ten years, or so, bathed in love and compassion, lovingly fed and raised by unknown hands and brought back to a life of dignity I had never known before.

The lady who saved me and brought me home that day and gave me an education, blessing me with her love and compassion, is today no more. A couple of years back she was waylaid on the road next to her home, accosted by ribald axe wielding religious bigots, accused of forcible conversions, and brutally hacked to death.

This person, whom I called Mother, was killed, her beautiful life cut short by misanthropes, narrow minded illiterate men whose hearts were filled with only hatred towards humanity.

Still, she blessed them as life ebbed out of her saying aloud, “Merciful God, forgive them and bless them for they know not what they do. That day I cried a lot but later, slowly the pain ebbed within me and I realized my true calling in life, which is to spread the word of peace and brotherhood, of love and compassion, of living and letting live.

That day I learnt that the only way to combat the forces of evil in this world is by compassion, by having a sympathetic understanding of all human sorrows, by treating every single person one encounters in life with the same sense of equality, dignity, and love  that one expects of oneself from others. This truth set me free, freed me of all pain, and has helped me become a better soul.”

The room fell silent.

For a long time Reena sat there, alone and lost in her world. Finally, she looked at the man seated in front of her, the man who was her teacher, the man who had impressed her enough with his confidence, his humility, and now his compassion.

Slowly, realization dawned on her and she smiled, a full bloom smile that came from deep within the recesses of her fledgling heart and radiated joy and happiness all around her.

“Thank you, Anirban Sir. Thanks to you, today I am able to confront my fears and I by doing so I have become free of all pain. Thanks to your noble thoughts and philosophy my eyes have opened to a new world, a world of infinite possibilities, and like you, one day I too, who has come from a similar impoverished background as yours, will become successful, but more importantly stay grounded and humble always.”

©neelanilpanicker2017 #reena’sexplorationchallenge#8 #shortstory #fiction #selfdiscovery #1642words

Advertisements

neelwrites/servicebeforeself/fiction/shortstory/reena’sexplorationchallengeweek7/10/10/2017

Take any one belief of yours that has ruled your life, and examine it from the following aspects.

  1 Is it true?

2 Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

3 How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

4 Who would you be without that thought?

SERVICE BEFORE SELF

By Neel Anil Panicker

“Dear friends and colleagues,

I welcome you all to the Annual Board Meeting cum Party of Coaching Time.

Like last year and the previous three years before that, this year too Coaching Time has emerged as the number one coaching institute in the whole of Delhi region. But unlike previous years’ successes this year’s results have been slightly different. Well, before naysayers think otherwise, this year the results have been phenomenal as for the first time in the 25 years since this organization was founded, the Delhi region has outbeaten all other regions handsomely, by a stupendous 30 per cent margin, to emerge as the numero uno by a long mile.

And all credit for this outstanding growth goes to all our valued staff members from the marketing, sales, finance, accounts, planning, and operations departments besides the academic department which includes our most valued faculty without whose sincere and tireless efforts all this would have been next to impossible.

Last but not the least, a ship is only as god as its captain and for that we need to be very thankful that we have at the helm of affairs a man who is synonymous with success, whose dedication and resourcefulness and gung ho attitude towards work and life in general has enabled Coaching Time to garner such love and respect among the students community who are our largest stakeholders.

As a small token of our immense gratitude we now call upon Shri Sai Kumar Swamy to kindly come on stage and accept this award and also share with us his rich and varied experiences in successfully running Coaching Time, a byword in quality coaching. “

Honourable Founder Chairman Sir, my dear friends and colleagues,

First of all I would like to thank all of you for the grand success registered by Coaching Time- Delhi region.

This has been the fifth successive year that we have posted superlative results and this year especially we have outbeaten our previous years’ performances.

Chairman Sir has been too kind to shower such fulsome praise on me but I think that’s part of his nature. I have always known him to be generous with his eulogies, always delivered in that lovely soft uplifting voice of his, a voice and manner which convinced me to heed his advice and take up this noblest of all professions.

I see all around me chests swelled with pride; faces etched with mile long smiles, hands tirelessly clapping away with the announcement of every single award; team spirit and bonhomie at its peak; each one of you jubilantly and lustily cheering the successes of the other.

It pleases me no end to see such camaraderie. It shows that we have in Coaching Time- Delhi Region a very formidable, well strung, highly motivated bunch of super achievers ever ready to take this organization to stratospheric heights.

Now I will take this opportunity to talk about something personal, something, an incident  rather, that opened my eyes to a new reality.

A month ago I was visited by a young man, a youth, barely 22, and quite curiously one of our ex-students.

His name is Shrikant Vashishth. Faculty members and sales colleagues from the Connaught Place centre might remember him, a lean bespectacled shy student who had enrolled himself into the G 8 weekend CAT batch of 2015.

I recalled that he had topped all India CAT B-School entrance test that year.

I surmised that he must have joined any one of top three IIMs of the country and having graduated now, could be here,  simply paying me a courtesy visit.

It was only a few minutes later did I realize how grossly wrong I was.

This young man, around 23, a first class topper and a gold medalist to boot from IIM, Ahmedabad was meeting for a teaching assignment.

Yes, you heard that right! This man, who had over seven placement offers from the crème de la crème multinational companies around the globe, each outbidding the other in offering over ten figure dollar salaries was turning his back to all that and wanted to join as a humble teacher.

Unbelieving my ears and the words that he spoke, I thought of putting him through the grill.

“Shrikant,” I said, “Do you know what you are doing? How could throw away your life like that, turning a blind eye to what is the start of a great, successful career for you”?

He looked at me with calm steady eyes and replied, conviction dripping out of every word that he spoke.

‘Sir, my definition of success is different from yours. When I joined Coaching Time, I was just one of the lakhs of students who take the bus or the train or the car or the bullock cart, selling or mortgaging their farms and lands to arrive in the big city and enroll at a coaching institute that gives them a realistic chance at taking a crack at an examination that could change their lives for the better for ever.

Some of them are successful and see their wishes becoming fulfilled; the majority see their dreams get shattered and trudge back to their small cities or stumble and slumber through life leading mundane existences.

I am lucky that I was among those rare few who succeeded. All this because of my teachers, the talented, hardworking faculty of your institution who helped in every which way to help realize my dream.

There were days when I just couldn’t cope with the fast paced rigours of academic life. Waking up in a strange city, washing clothes, cooking food, taking the Metro to attend back to back six hour classes, and then coming back dead tired but still getting back to self studies shortly.

Add to that the complexities  of certain topics and it would have been easy for me to raise my hands, give it all up in despair, accept defeat and take the night train to Bihar, to my home town in Munger district, to whatever awaited my fate.

It was during such times that the teachers helped me, gauged my changing mood swings and injected me with the much needed injection of hope, positivity and belief.

It was they more than me who believed in my potential to bell the CAT, and it is to them that I owe my success.

It is they who taught me the greatest philosophy that a human being on this planet can live by and that is “Service before Self”. I owe them and the society that nourishes souls like them a huge debt and it is my way of repaying that debt.’

Friends, for a long, long time after he left, I sat there, chained to my seat, my mind battling a million conflicting emotions, a deep knowing pain shooting through my heart, my eyes shell shocked and in limbo, utterly flabbergasted, shocked, and above all shamed.

This young boy, half my age, had shown me the mirror, a mirror that I had consciously strayed away from all these years. He had told me things that I knew were right, so utterly right but had foregone long, long ago in the false pursuit of materialistic power and pelf, success measured in the amount of crispy notes that one had in the bank.

I went back home that night but the uneasy feeling of something terribly gone wrong persisted. In fact the initial sense of discontentment, a vague lingering feeling that something was not quite right had by now grown into full blown depressive despondency.

That night, long after everyone had gone to sleep, ad after an hour of tossing and turning around I finally gave it up and got up and entered my study.

I decided to confront my inner self.

I lit a cigarette, a very rare event for me, and as the first puffs of Benson & Hedges wafted into the air, making concentric circles all around the comfy air-conditioned room, I settled down into my recliner and my mind walked down memory lane.

I remembered my impoverished childhood, my village, my school, the only one that had a roof, I remembered the day I graduated, I remembered my first tryst with big city life, the day I enrolled for CAT coaching in Hyderabad, the initial days and months, my diffidence, my discomfort with all things English; I remembered the times when I felt depressed enough to want to kill myself; I remembered my teachers, the excellent faculty who held my hand and guided me and filled me such strength and belief that I went on to not just cleat the CAT but bag a seat at IIM-Bangalore.

I also remembered the changes that happened thereafter; how I chased money, ran after bigger and bigger offers, sacrificed my principles at the altar of materialism.

Friends, I sat alone well into the night and gradually began to see how far I had strayed from my beliefs.

The one that I had become was not the one who I had started off as.

As one material success after another piled up I was losing out on my inner beliefs, my core principles. I realised  that I had to change, to go back to own real self, discover my elemental belief, a belief nurtured into me by my teachers whose tireless selfless services I had abused to serve my own narrow minded selfish interests.

Friends, in Shrikant, a boy from this organization, I began to see my own mirror image, an image from which I strayed several miles away.

I have decided to look myself in the mirror and live my beliefs. I know that I am nothing, cipher, zilch without my beliefs. I am thankful to Shrikant for showing me the mirror to my thoughts, for bringing me face to face with myself.

I believe God wanted to deliver me a message, a thought; Shrikant was only a medium. It is upto me to retain that thought or transform it. I have decided to do the latter.

I, along with my new partner Shrikant, have decided to build a world class coaching institute that will provide absolutely free coaching for all graduate students in India. Anyone and everyone who believes in the motto “Service before Self” is welcome to join us. Thank You and have a great time “

©neelanilpanciker2017 #servicebeforeself#fiction #shortstory #reena’sexplorationchallenge #1710 words

neelwrites/eternalpeaceinNature’sarms/fiction/shortstory/09/10/2017

ETERNAL PEACE IN NATURE’S ARMS

forest1

By Neel Anil Panicker

Of late, especially, and more so, since Sushma’s sudden death, the daily climb up the forested slope was proving to be quite tedious.
It wasn’t as if he had suddenly turned infirm or that his body had refused to obey the dictates of the mind.
On the contrary, for a septuagenarian leading a superannuated existence, John Albert Dayal, retired Eastern Railways Senior Superintendent, was doing pretty well,  ever fit and agile, his six foot ramrod straight frame a source of much envy among neighbours less than half his age.

Hiking up the trail was something he had always looked forward to.

“Why do you need to torture your bones by insisting on going up that forested hill. Don’t you know that it is infested with wild animals?” harangued his sister Martha, a year older to him, and recently widowed.
Left to herself, she would do nothing but bake honey dipped nutty chocolate cakes,  a delicacy she had learnt back in the days when she was young and employed at Hot Breads, the preferred eating joint of the gourmands.

But John was of a different breed.
Rather than indulging in such rich sweetmeats, which anyways he avoided like the plague ever since the doctor pronounced him as afflicted with advanced  diabetes and abnormally high blood pressure, he found pleasure in Nature.
So off he went, his ears oblivious to Martha’s protestations,
In no time he had left behind the city landscapes and waded deep into a thick foliage of pine and cedar trees.

Feeling slightly heavy and uncharacteristically tired, he sat down under the bark of a giant peepal tree and looked upwards.
From behind the thick foliage, the sun’s rays snaked in and sketched strobed images on his parched visage.
After a while he reclined his back against the tree trunk, stretched his legs out, and closed his eyes.

And that’s how they found him the next morning.
‘Fortuitous of him to go that way’, was the general consensus of all who knew him.

(c)neelanilpanicker2017 WritePhoto #Thursday Photo Prompt #fiction#flashfiction #shortstory #334words

Written for Thursday Photo Prompt hosted by at https://scvincent.com/2017/10/08/glade-writephoto-by-willow/

Glade – #writephoto by Willow

Also written for

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

Saturday Mix – Same Same But Different, 7 October 2017

Welcome to the Saturday Mix, 9 September 2017! at https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2017/09/09/saturday-mix-same-same-but-different-9-september-2017/

This week we are diving into the depths of our thesaurus and exploring the world of synonyms.

Same Same But Different
Your ‘Same Same But Different’ task is to take the five challenge words and NOT use them in your writing. That’s right, you need to dig out your thesaurus and find a synonym for each word instead.

Your words are:

  1. produce
  2. puncture
  3. smile
  4. young
  5. difficult

Your writing form is either poetry or prose.

neelwrites/simplyjamming/sixsentencestories/fiction/flash.shorstory/07/10/2017

Welcome to Six Sentence Stories

WORD PROMPT: FLUID

SIMPLY JAMMING!

By Neel Anil Panicker

“See this jam, Tasty all by itself, but pretty much useless otherwise; you need to warm it, make it fluid,  before it can be spread on bread and become a gourmand’s delight.

Same’s the case with relationships.

Take mine for instance. Left to ourselves, we, Arthur and I, are like bread and jam.
Two wonderful but entirely different people with different attributes, different temperaments, different tastes, likes, dislikes et al.
The zing, the spark, the magic happens only when we are together; that’s because we don’t supplement but only complement each other.

That’s being fluid____knowing who you are and what you bring to the table, when and how much to give and take, so that together you help create the perfect dish, and that my friends is the secret of our long and happy marriage.
‘Wow! that’s great. So between the two of you, who is the bread and who is the jam?’

“Hmm…good question. Lemme think.”

neelwrites/nokeepingoff/

WRITESPIRATION #135 52 WEEKS IN 52 WORDS WEEK 40

2017 brings 52 challenges over 52 weeks.

Your challenge is to write your story using the weekly theme/prompt and write it in just 52 words…. EXACTLY, no more, no less.

Submit your entries in the comments or on a blog post and I post them the following week with the new prompt. You have until Sunday to enter.

Write about the day you ignored the ‘KEEP OUT’ sign.

Hosted by Sacha Black at http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/10/04/writespiration-135-52-weeks-in-52-words-week-40/

NO KEEPING OFF

By Neel Anil Panicker

There she stood, tall and statuesque, clad in a sheer gossamer chiffon saree that hugged her porcelain figure in a way that left very little to my lascivious  imagination.

What if she’s my boss’s trophy wife; what if I was playing with fire.

I was ready to get burnt at the stakes.

(c)neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #writeinspiration#writespiration-135-52-weeks-in-52-words-week-40/#52owrds

neelwrites/up’n’downlikeayoyo/sixsentencestories/fiction/28/09/2017

unnamed-11-e1462409384457

Hosted by the charming Zoe at https://unchartedblogdotorg.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/welcome-to-six-sentence-stories-65/

This week’s cue for you to use any way you like within six well written, and structurally sound sentences, compiled into any genre you like… is…..drumroll please….UP!

UP ‘N DOWN LIKE A YO YO

By Neel Anil Panicker

Pity some of us aren’t either aware of or chose to turn a deaf ear to the maxim: what’s goes up definitely comes down.

At least that so was the case in Maya’s instance.

One moment she was up in the skies, floating gossamer like among the stars, showering bright rays of sunshine on all and sundry.

And then came the fall; a meteoric crash that saw her all her dreams crash landing onto the hard rock of reality, mercilessly crushing into smithereens her love laden heart that hitherto knew only love and happiness.

It was only then that she realized the wisdom  of the ages as spelled out by the sages that all that one desires for and runs after is just maya, her namesake__an illusion__and that real happiness is always somewhere else.

Life’s been on the bend for her ever since as her hands perennially reach out to the skies for deliverance from all sorrows.
©neelanilpanicker2017 #156words #fiction #flashfiction #sixsentencestories

#up

neelwrites/

Hosted by the super talented Reena at https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2017/09/22/reenas-exploration-challenge-week-5/

strategies

LOOKING BEYOND THE NUMBERS

By Neel Anil Panicker

TOTAL NUMBER OF QUESTIONS :      34

RIGHT      :                                                   6

WRONG   :                                                   28

Rubbing his eyes in disbelief, Mahesh got up from his chair and began to pace up and down the floor, his fingers tightly clutched inside sweaty palms.

The results of his Diagnostic Test stared him in the face.

It was a timed test that helped the students gauge their current levels and helped them get a better understanding of their strengths  and weaknesses in order to prepare themselves for the final Common Admissions Test (CAT) nine months down the line, a test that would make or mar their professional careers, decide whether they would end up in any any one of the top ten premier Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) of the country or languish in a lowly job, joining the ever toiling hoi polloi that make up the great Indian workforce.

A slight stirring from the corner bed broke his thoughts.

‘Turn off the damn lights, will you’.

It took awhile for Mahesh to register what he heard. Then, still in a half daze, he pulled his arms out and turned off the switch.

‘No point in disturbing others’. His roommate Arvind had just returned from his night shift.

As Mahesh slid himself under the sheets and closed his eyes, his mind lay awake, playing in a loop the roller coaster happenings of the past few days, each recall exacerbating his already frayed nerves.

Here he was, barely a week into life in the big city, some 1500 kilometers away from home.

The past three days had been particularly tough on him. The first day, after de-boarding at New Delhi Railway Station from a jam packed Jharkhand Express, he had headed straight to Coaching First, the premium coaching centre for CAT that her friends and teachers back home in Sitamarhi had recommended.

For the next couple of hours he had sat and heard out an impassioned extempore from the Front Desk Counsellor, a stentorian heavily bedecked lady with a lipstick smeared powdered face who trotted  out in a rat-tat-tat fashion the advantages of enrolling at Coaching First, her multi-hued long nailed finger tips repeatedly pointedly towards the walls all around her which were plastered with the smiling visages of successful pass outs, and the linear golden ribboned tagline of the institute, ‘Turn to us if you want to turn your dreams into a reality’.

Sufficiently impressed, Mahesh had signed himself for a one year long term course by completing the necessary admission formalities and paid out her fees, a six months’ advance with the remaining to be paid within the next 90 days.

An hour later he was filling up another form, this time at a seven storied box like building whose half peeling faded façade was emblazoned with the legend, PG FOR BOYS ONLY.

He had forked out a three months’ advance of Rs 15,000 and found himself herded inside a near bare cubicle sized room.

“This is your bed,” spat out the landlord, a 65-year-old who walked around with an unusually ramrod straight back as his eyes turned towards a small door sans hinges.

‘That’s the bathroom-cum-toilet. You’re two of you here, as of now.’

After the man had left, it took another hour before Mahesh could make himself comfortable, stacking his clothes in the drawer, piling the first set of books that the institute had handed over on the side table, generally trying to make life as comfortable as could be possible in such alien surroundings__alien room, alien city, alien culture et al.

His mind pole vaulted into the previous day’s events when at exactly ten in the morning he had found himself at Coaching First, seated in a ‘packed like sardines’ classroom, listening, wide eyed, along with around a hundred other students a forty-year-old man’s impassioned speech about the arduous road that lay ahead.

‘Dear students, I welcome you to the class but before I kickstart your CAT class, first things first.

I need to show you the mirror and bring to the fore some harsh truths. 

Nowadays, the road ahead for a student, especially so in India, is an uphill task.

The struggle for them commences right after the Board or Class 12 exams. For it is here that he decides whether he is good enough to get into the IITs, the gateway to the best engineering education in the country rated at times, even above par of some of the best colleges around the world.

But then reality strikes and how. Not many are good enough to sneak past its narrow doors. Of the over ten lakh students who sit for the test every year, a paltry 3000 ultimately bag a seat, and of this too, only the top 100 get into their choice streams.

Almost similar, if not more, is the case with the entry level hassles that go with bagging a prized Medical seat.

Government colleges with their heavily subsidized course fees are a major draw but open its doors very slightly as the intakes are low and the demands staggering.

True, one can pay through one’s nose to bag a seat ‘out of turn’ but then how many of us have the surname ‘Ambani’ tagged to our names?

So what do the Children of Lesser Gods do? Well, nothing but slog through college picking up a ‘regular’ degree in any one of the innumerable ‘standard’ courses and then join the long que outside caching classes that promise the moon and the earth and everything in between to give themselves a realistic chance of grabbing a B- school seat into any one of the premier management schools.

Here too, what exactly are their chances?

Now let me run you through some stark statistics, because like Shakira’s hips, my lips won’t lie when I trot them out.

Total number of 11Ms in the country: 23

Total number of CAT candidates: Four lakhs plus  

Total number of top General Category seats: 100

Per Candidate to seat  Ratio: 4000

Which means the dreams of only one in every 4000 enrolled students get into one or the other top IIMs. The others just fall by the wayside or languish in some lowly paying jobs after passing out of some third rate management school that no recruiter or employer worth their his salt would dream of even touching with a barge pole.

A collective gasp erupted from the students. It was followed by whispers, followed by pin drop silence.

Mahesh, like everybody else, knew how tough it was to crack the CAT and get into the IIMs. But then as he listened attentively from his far right corner bench to the words he felt a massive weight forming in his chest. He shuffled his legs below the table and wringed his hands as a cold wettiness began to form under his faded cotton blue shirt.

The next half an hour were a daze as the man who had earlier introduced himself as one Nihil Rahane, Senior Faculty cum Student In-charge

ran through the class structure and the road map for the days and months to come.

He finally ended his class with the words, his rich baritone voice ricocheting off the classroom walls, “Remember, no pain, no gain. Work hard, burn the midnight oil, and keep the faith__success will surely follow”.

***

Mahesh woke up in beads of sweat. The words from the introductory class rang in his ears, bombarding his senses with the intensity of a mild temblor.

No pain, no gain. How true. All achievements and accomplishments in this world, have come through hard work; work that entailed turning days into nights and nights into days.

Mahesh’s mind reverberated with visuals of all great men and women and their world changing discoveries and actions. Madam Curie,  Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Tennyson, Keats, Shelly, Hellen Keller, Florence Nightingale, and closer home Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Abdul Kalam…the list went endless.

All illustrious champions and winners who had hacked their way to success, surmounting unimaginable difficulties, overcoming Herculean odds, persevering, persisting, pushing themselves beyond limits, pursuing seemingly super human goals to finally turn initial bitter failures into glittering successes.

Mahesh recalled the words of his ‘guru’, his Class 10 Mathematics teacher.

“Remember Mahi, your namesake the brilliant Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the hugely successful captain of the Indian Cricket team used to say, “It’s not the runs that you score that matters, but when and what stage of the match you score them that really matters, ” adding, “my dear Mahi, don’t let mere numbers and scores bog you down. They are like small pebbles on the vast ocean of life. Wait for the next tide and the fortunes will change, bringing in new pebbles, new scores, completely washing away the earlier ones.

Don’t ever get bogged down by low tides. You are meant for the high seas. Go and meet the waves headlong; new oceans of success await you.

Mahesh sprang up from the bed.

‘Go and meet the oceans of success.’

How true were the words, Mahesh thought to himself.

So what if he hadn’t done well in the Diagnostics. Statistics were like sands on the ocean front. One huge wave hurtling down from the high seas and they vanish without a trace leaving behind a new pattern.

They are past masters at not just falsifying the truth but also are an irritant in the pursuit of one’s avowed goals.

The truth is that he was meant for bigger, greater things in life.

Come hail or shine, he will do all that it takes to crack the CAT.

With that resolution firmly embedded into his senses, Mahesh slipped back under the sheets and closed his eyes, awaiting the dawn of a new day, a day of hope and vigour and all things positive.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #CATOLOGY #04 #fiction #reena’sexplorationchallengeweek5  #1627words