Friday, July 3, 2009


SSC topper scores 2000%!! Non SSC students barred from State Colleges. Failed students go nuts….I wake up screaming my head off. That horrid nightmare is back again, terrorizing me. I am one of the thousands of weeping, glassy eyed parents running desperately from pillar to post just trying to get my child into a decent college while a potbellied politician plays havoc at will! What if my 10th grader doesn’t get into the college she desires? What if the only college she gets is located in a god forsaken taluka 2 hours away? What if nothing works and I have to sell the house to pay donations? By dawn, I look like the living dead…‘Memsahib did you go to the mandir?’ Laxmi Bai jolts me out of my stupor. ‘How many times have I told you to do puja? Huh?’ she pauses and takes a deep breath before slamming into me. ‘Mrs. Mehta has gone to Vaishno devi three times, Balaji four times just so that her ladla Sunny gets the car of his choice… and you can’t even go to the temple once for your daughter’s 10th std results… Hey Bhagwan!’ The sour look she gives me sends me reeling over the edge. I have never felt so afraid in my life.... Am I such a bad parent? Will my child have to pay for my transgressions? Isn’t merit worth anything at all? Perhaps it’s not too late to send out an SOS. I’ll leave right away, catch the overnight and prostrate myself at the Lord’s feet. Surely the gods won’t refuse a desperate parent! My canny maid reads my devious thoughts in a flash. ‘It’s too late now and we need that seat by hook…’ a crafty look crosses her face, ‘or by a crook…’ The next thing I know, I’m standing outside a monstrosity of a mansion draped demurely in sari, clutching a box of barfi and the troublesome mark sheet, waiting my turn in a serpentine queue. ‘My Pappu works for the minister sahib. As head dhobi, he knows his sahib inside out’ Laxmi whispers conspiratorially. ‘Remember memsahib, hand him the barfi, tell him that you admire his stand on reservations, never mind your real opinions’ her eyes bore into me, ‘keep them to yourself!’

I squawk, ‘But the truth…’

‘Forget it! Do you want the seat or not?’

I nod quickly.

‘Good! You will then burst into tears and fling yourself at his feet!’

Did my helplessness feed that fattened ego enough to relent? Or did my child actually secure the seat on merit? I don’t think I’ll ever quite find out; just truly thankful to have made it across the finishing line. But one thing I know for sure, I’ve turned over a new leaf. And so should you... After all, it’s pretty clear that one needs more than just merit in this country. You need divine intervention every single step of the way. And yes, do remember to note down your dhobi’s cell. You’ll need him when junior tries to get into that prestigious engineering college in the 2% open category. So, the faster you learn how to access these Holy Hot Lines, the saner you will remain when it comes to the Annual Ruckus on Campus....!!!

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