Board Exams and Me

A long long time ago, in the sleepy village of ancient India, there was an outburst of energy. The village, Fidelius was much like the famous shire of Tolkien. Its inhabitants, the Fidelians, were habitually boring people. They never wavered from the familiar. This was a place, where the only thing called an adventure was not following the routine and where the road not taken- was indeed not taken.

But suddenly, as told earlier, in Fidelius, there was an outburst of energy. The Fidelians had all gathered in the house of the local seer- Sibal. Sibal was now on his deathbed. His popularity, judging from the number of people by his bedside, came from his prior prediction- that is-the only accurate prediction he will ever make henceforth will be when he was on his deathbed. And being the brilliant seer that he was, he never made a single correct prediction. He saw rains when the clouds vanished and sensed fog on the brightest of days. He predicted death to the healthiest of men, and sterility to hormonal teenagers. He became the talk of the town, and his seer abilities were spoken of far and wide.

On his deathbed, the great seer, sensing Fidelians hanging on his words gave out his true predictions. “The local doctor shall face a great, personal tragedy.” All eyes rushed, transfixed, on the local doctor. He gave out a whimper and looked like he had just seen Medussa.

“A war of mammoth proportions will break out in Fidelius.” A collective sigh of “ooh’s” and “aah’s” swept through the crowd. The Fidelians knew not the ‘W’ of war. The last war they fought was over a chicken, half a thousand years back!

“And then,” the poor seer raised his voice over the din, “everything will get back to normal.” The word normal stretched unnaturally in the last syllable wherein the great seer breathed his last.

The next day, the local doctor dared not step out of his mansion. He locked his family in and himself tended to his bulging waist and receding hairline- matters he had postponed to periods of scanty patients so as to swindle the dwindling population of the Fidelians with ease. The Fidelians suffered from Roachoc pox, a disease of the Roachocs (ancient cockroaches). After chicken pox was eradicated with much pomp and ceremony by the doctors of a century ago, no Fidelian doctor ever earned enough to have a square meal a day- until Roachoc pox announced itself with the vigour and velocity that shook Fidelius. And the local doctor triumphed. Therein came his state of the receding hairline and the bulging waist.

Anyway, the local doctor was locked in his mansion, while fifteen miles away, a fifteen year old teenager was gazing at a greenish blue solution in a test tube with the adoration and adulation that only a Grecian Urn could receive from Keats. The major ingredient of the solution was extracted from the intestines of a nasty little Roachoc who had bitten the youngster on his finger when he had tried to scrape its gut. But the boy had not bothered. He gazed and gazed at the little, gleaming test tube and then, all of a sudden, he “yahoo’ed” and jumped in the air, a finger over the test tube protecting that precious solution. He got out of his little cottage, and yelled to all the passing Fidelians, “Wah re wah!” (A chant akin to Archimedes’ Eureka, except our boy deemed it less prudent to strut the streets naked.)

And so he hopped, skipped and jumped his way, his lab coat swaying behind him with the test tube to the mansion of the poor doctor- him of the bulging waist and the receding hairline. He shouted out from below, “Doctor? Doctor? Come out at once! I have found a cure for Roachoc pox!”

Behind the security of two layered brick walls and curtains and fireplaces and what-nots, the doctor gave a sigh. His expression was akin to that of Macduff screaming out the death of the noble Duncan- “O horror, horror, horror.” The great tragedy had stricken. No Fidelian ever got Roachoc pox again. The doctor’s role reduced to a mere degree and a title. The only thing he ever prescribed now were tonics of vitamins and minerals for those with flatulence and poor digestion. The doctor of the bulging waist and the receding hairline became the doctor of the flat abdomen and the hairless scalp.

However, the Roachocs were hunted down far and wide. The ruthless Fidelians looked under drains, and sinks; in the roots of old trees and under big rocks, they looked everywhere. Everywhere the Roachocs were hunted and degutted, until the Roachocs had had enough. The disgruntled lot of them assembled under the old banyan tree by the outskirts of Fidelius and looked up to their president, the old, the wise, the experienced, Riddle Roach. Riddle paced the stage and coughed loudly. At once the crowd stopped chattering.

“As you know, the Fidelians have surpassed their limits. They have been hunting us down and degutting us for mystic reasons that do not concern us. They leave us in states of no-digestion. We can no longer eat without the food falling off our oesophagus in a pile. This cannot go on.”

The Roachocs nodded their little heads vigorously, their little feelers swiping away the Roachoc in front of them. Some of them gave out angry chants of assent with their chief. Encouraging the anger of his subjects, Riddle continued in that deep, wizened, experienced voice of his- “We shall not take this any longer. We will wage a war against those dim witted monsters and not give up until they promise not to hunt us anymore.”

His words were drowned by the screams and “woohoo’s” of the raging crowd. Out they flew, those little Roachocs fluttering their leathery wings and cart wheeling in the air with the agility that would have made an Archaeopteryx weep! They flew hither and thither. Here, they defecated on a sleeping Fidelians face. There, they rendered the alarm clock useless by releasing their stink pellets on the old man’s moustache. And there again, they poked the school going Fidelians so that their skin attained the texture of the Gobi desert. The war of mammoth proportions had broken out!

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The Fidelians, dim witted like old Shemar had wisely said, were at their wit’s end. They had no knowledge of wars. They fiddled with those heavy AK-47s imagining what the trigger did, and where the nozzle must point. And by the time they figured this out, they wiped out most of the Fidelian army. The news of the mass suicide broke out, and the poor Fidelians deciding that the government must have retreated, stepped out of their homes and bowed down to the Roachocs and accepted defeat.

AK 47

The Roachocs were delighted. They knew they would win eventually, but this easily? No, they had not believed it possible. Riddle Roach called out finally, over the din and stated in that deep, wizened, experienced voice of his- “We will end this conflict if the Fidelians promise never to hunt down or degut a Roachoc again.”

The timid Fidelians whimpered and nodded. They sobbed into their fingers, internally relieved that the war was over and they could get back to being lazy and lackadaisical again. The Roachocs were reinstated their rightful homes- in the sinks and drains of the Fidelian households. The doctor of the flat abdomen and the hairless scalp once again grew the bulging waist and his shiny head showed just the hint of a few white hairs. Roachoc pox was once again prevalent. And everything was back to normal. The great Seer Sibal was awarded a posthumous place of honour in the nonexistent Fidelian government, because after all- it was exactly as he had said it would be.

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