Let me continue this series by skipping forward to college. Having studied in the restrictive confines of a school till Standard XII, I found the relaxed environment of college a refreshing change indeed. Such was my conditioning that it took me some time to adjust to the fact that bunking or skipping classes, a punishable offence in school, was a way of life in college. However once I was in this groove, bunking classes led to two of the funniest incidents I can never forget. Coincidentally enough, or maybe not so much, both involved Mathematics lectures. You see, from the very first week it had become a tradition of sorts to stage a mass exodus moments before the Maths class commenced. Being engineering students, most of us were reasonably accomplished in the subject and a succession of lecturers bereft of the ability of engaging the students’ attention only fuelled our apathy for attending the lectures. By the time the first month of college was over it had become second nature not to attend this class. That is how the first incident occurred.
We were attending a practical session in one of the computer laboratories and our lecturer, who also taught the theoretical part, was in charge. A friend of mine and I went up to him to get some doubt clarified. Once we were done, he asked for our help. Due to certain circumstances, he had been unable to take a couple of the theoretical lectures and he needed to make up for the lost time. Thereupon he asked us if there was any free slot in the next couple of days when he could conduct an extra lecture. My friend quickly mentioned that we had an empty slot the very next day; the first lecture period of the day did not have anything scheduled. As she looked at me for confirmation I nodded but a little nagging voice in the back of my head was insisting that something was off. It was like watching things unfold in slow motion; I remember looking at our lecturer taking out a notebook to jot down the lecture timings while my brain was working furiously to understand what was wrong, Just as he was about to write down the timings of the free slot, it clicked. The first lecture period of the next day was assigned to Maths and it was not a free period at all. I hastily conveyed the same to my friend in a whisper and we quickly told our lecturer that the slot was actually not free. We pretended we had simply forgotten about the Maths period but the memory of the knowing smile on the lecturer’s face makes me wonder even today if he had guessed the actual reason of our consternation.
The second incident occurred in our fifth semester, That was the last semester which would have Maths as a subject but even that could not inspire in us any inclination to attend the classes. One day it happened that the previous lecture ran on longer than usual and while the rest of the class managed to make a quick getaway, four of us found ourselves facing the Maths lecturer even as we were about to exit the classroom. It was pretty much the first time we had met her and for a moment a wild thought entered my mind that we could pretend we were in the wrong class . I hastily discarded this insane idea; it could backfire on us later. As it happened, there was supposed to be a guest lecture by some visiting faculty which was scheduled to begin soon. We had had no intention of attending that either but at that point, not knowing what else to do, my friend hesitantly told the Maths lecturer “Ma’am there is a seminar we want to attend so we were going there.” The lecturer’s reply shocked us. She said, very matter of factly, “Go ahead. In any case you all never attend this lecture.” With that indisputable statement, there was nothing else left for us but to mumble an indistinct “Yes Ma’am” and shuffle out of the room without meeting her eyes. However we did try to make up for it by attending her lectures more or less regularly for the remainder of the semester.
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