Ramapuram was a small, sleepy town. Full with dreamy eyed people roaming around the big banyan tree, as if it had borne the nucleus of the old town. People were happy, everyone going around for their work, everyone sustaining the small town economically. Industrialisation had left the town almost untouched, which only added to the natural beauty the town had. Letting things be as they are imbibes a certain untouched beauty to the subject, and Ramapuram, if seen through the right eyes, was a perfect example.
Raman was one of the many dreamy eyed residents of this town. As small a boy he was, like all other boys and girls of the town, he went to the only school the little place had. The school was a place of interest for the boys, the old thatched roof, the archaic yellowed walls, the rusty blackboards and the almost uninterested teachers. Almost as if it was an epitome of neglect and carelessness. The teachers had not been changed in years, nor had been the classrooms. The old furniture had borne the brunt of all the aimless people who happened to use it, day after day.
Every day would come and pass by, Sanskrit, History, English Composition and Maths. The teachers would come and drone, each more strict than the other. Perhaps if not in terms of qualifications, they competed with each other. Maybe they compensated for their lack of scientific acumen with their strictness, which eventually made the students fear them, and hence, ask no questions.
Yet, Raman did not mind. He had no doubts. He was certain. The day would end at the same time the train passed the school, and more certain he was of the fact that the school was not a place for him. He was considered a failure. He would sleep through his classes. Sometimes some teacher would wake him up only to beat him up, most of the times, the teachers just sighed and let him sleep.
The end of the school day almost coincided with the loud noise the daily mail carrier train would make as it would pass by the town. One of the many trains that passed by the town, the mail carrier was a daily nuisance to the teachers as the railway tracks were laid just opposite the school walls. This sound was Raman’s daily alarm, he would wake up to the sound of the train every day.
Today was a new day. He somehow looked forward to the classes. Though it seemed wrong to his gut, all down to his roots, he somehow knew he could face the teachers today. Sanskrit came, and he could correct grammar in all of the verses the teacher wrote on the board. The Gita, the Ramayana and some verses from the famous Meghdootam, he could recite and correct them all. History was cake today. He knew all the dates. The Mughal Empire, the year Sir Thomas Roe attended Jahangir’s court, the year Bahadur Shah Zafar died. He knew it all. Nobody got appreciation from the history teacher, and yet, Raman was the only one in the class the teacher heaped praises upon.
English composition was a breeze too. Raman could summarise every chapter of Tom Sawyer with ease. Maybe like Tom, he had rose up to the occasion when he was least expected to. Though Raman was not as mischievous as Tom, but he obviously shared the laziness. Maths was easy too. Linear algebra was easy. He did not even had to lift his hand to compute the value of x. So complicated are our lives, we keep solving equations in Maths, and one problem in our lives, and all hell breaks loose.
Raman knew that he had changed his life today. He was filled with a new sense of purpose, a feeling of satisfaction, and the best of it all, he was not unnoticed anymore. It felt so strange to him, as to how his life could have turned a full circle in a day, but oh yes, he was happy.
But maybe like all good stories, be it Romeo and Juliet or the Iliad, his good story had to end, After all, success is not achieved in a day. It is a path tread only by the hardworking, and more, the certain. The mail carrier had come to Ramapuram, and like all trains, it carried news for the people around it.
The train’s shrill whistle shook the townspeople and woke Raman up from his dream.The Maths teacher was just leaving. “What do I do with you Raman? You always sleep through the whole day and I presume, dream all nonsense.”
By Neeraj Meghani (Head Editor, Fiction)