Arun looked up at the sky and saw a lazy sun, its rays scattering over the road. He claimed a red bus and clambered aboard, after winning a battle of the door with four other contenders. He could see regular crappy classes ahead of him. It didn’t look like anything would be special on his birthday. He couldn’t expect his friends to be creative enough to do something funky and out-of-the-box for him; all they would do is pester him for a treat. But even that prospect didn’t seem very bright. There were too many classes today. There was only one way left…
“Mark our proxies…” was what they thought would be the last thing they would say before the college gates were behind them. He messaged his friends in the other branches “to reach the gates ASAP” and felt himself almost triumphant in making his day better than what it could have been.
Thumb working furiously on the phone (he was glad he had asked for an Iphone on his birthday), he dashed down the steps. Just as he typed a “k”, a voice called out, “come here”. His heart nearly stopped when he saw his Physics professor beckoning him to a room. He followed with a heavy heart. “You guys, too!” Sir pointed to his pals following him. Stuck…attendance gone…were the only words that revolved in his mind. Before he could think of a cock-and-bull story, sir continued, “I wanted to show you all something.” And for the first time, he saw excitement and fire in the old man’s eyes-a positive infectious flame, whose warmth one would want to be infected with.
“The European Journal of Physics has published my research. 10 years- not a day less- on the subject I have worked. But it has all borne fruit…” As he scrambled through the cupboard, the students stared at each other, relief and awe writ large on their faces- relief as their attendance was safe and awe in respect of their teacher.
Sir’s excitement was truly contagious- stories of his work, all his experiences tumbled out and no one realized that time was passing. ‘How could somebody love the subject he abhorred so much?’ Arun wondered. His mobile was driving him crazy; he thought his pockets would rip because of the constant vibrations of his phone. He retreated to a corner and checked the phone screen. Gosh! 15 missed calls, 20 messages! 1 hour gone! They had to leave ASAP…but the Prof was on a roll…even the students egged him on. An hour floated by. The vibrations in his pocket had now come to a standstill. What was the point of bunking the classes if they were stuck here? Even if they managed to get free, they would probably miss the morning show. He felt distant and morose as if losing control of everything. It seemed to be the research paper’s birthday, not his. How could his friends get engrossed in a “research” that was miles away from their standards? They couldn’t say they had classes because they were on a bunk.
He slid away quietly and trudged down the steps to the canteen. Sipping a solitary cup of coffee, he felt no better than the ’solitary reaper’- uncared for, unloved…he decided to go home and drown himself in the vast ocean of social networking sites. That was easy and hurtless.
However, before he could get up from his seat, hoots and wolf-whistles sounded and tight hugs gripped him. Astonished and gasping for breath, he extricated himself from his friends. Some of his effervescence returned when he saw all his friends, arms outstretched waiting to punch him, engulf him. He was hammocked by them and carried to the lawn. Cake war and friendly punches followed with food, food and food. There’s a saying that the way through a man’s heart is through his stomach. On Arun’s birthday, this aphorism proved truest of all.