“If math walks through the door, I jump out of the window”.
Acha’s one liner at my 3rd grade Parents Teacher Meeting remains fresh as his ironed shirt. This is due to two reasons. The meeting was the first of the three PTM’s he has ever attended. Also, this was the only math exam where I was the topper, got 99 out of 100.
My belief for the long time was that the math gods were angry at me for something I said in 4thgrade. I said EVS and Social Science was more fun to learn to a math topper. It has been a steady downhill since then. Acha wasn’t good in math as well. Infact I think he is worse than the taxation system. But he tried teaching me the concept of greater and lesser sign. “Mono, the crocodile’s mouth opened this way means it is greater”. At the end of the day, he realised the power of genetics is greatest.
I wish I can describe my relationship with the subject to be like Kajol and SRK in DDLJ. But, it is actually like the one in Baazigar. I play the naïve, loyal and trusting Shilpa Shetty and Math plays the smart and charming guy SRK. Everything seems to be going well but I am later pushed down the terrace.
The first confrontation with the subject which I thought loved me more than pi’s decimal places was in grade 6. I met this weird concept called Algebra. The first day it was taught, my teacher said “Listen Carefully, this is important and if you don’t understand today, don’t blame me”. I actually concentrated in the class. But algebra turned out to be chemical X. Just like how it turned Jojo into MojoJojo. It turned me into the creature who could feel the brain burst out, eyes going red, green, black and the ability to trash a concept.
The probability of winning an argument against ammais 0.8 and silently it always looks like she has admitted defeat. She would grind her teeth and mutter, “PTM ondallo, appo nokkam” (PTM is there, we shall see then). PTM has been a mutual trump card. Despite all the excellent remarks and good scores, math would hold the key on who is winning the final battle.
And Amma usually ends up winning the final bout without breaking a sweat. The process of running away fails as you are cornered. The only time you wish you were part of a circle. Revenge is a dish best served in bad marks and the cold reactions. The parachutes of all the other good things fails to open and I am caught.
Did I die? No, I get stuck in amma’swords. Not the right asylum to be after she sees your report card. Till 11ththe marks I scored weren’t bad, but comparing to the rest of the scores in other subjects, it was a drain. An eye-sore to my parents, it would be noted down in a small black book.
The small black book contains the list of violations. In my case, the violations are the bad marks scored. No surprises to guess who is the M.V.P here. Few years down the line, amma had given up. No places to put in the new bad marks. My existing ones are still providing enough material to say that I am not serious in this subject and also induce stress.
“Some people have curly brown hair through proper brushing”. No, this wasn’t hair styling tips. ‘This was a powerful mantra that is believed to save you from trigonometry problems’, that’s what my teacher said in a really sweet voice. I believed her. But this concept of trigonometry was weird and by the time I finished saying the word, we moved on to the next topic. Trigo as everyone calls not because of love but just laziness in saying the name makes a guest appearance in my future problems. I would be excited for a second before realising not knowing trigo is the main reason I am stuck.
This was also the point where I was introduced to a man who was very close in replacing math has my enemy. Mr VR is the anti-thesis of Mark Thackeray. Whatever interest I had would be vaporised by this man’s presence. With a deep, soulless voice, he would ask me to problems. Doing my way basically means my notebook would be thrown towards the highway. For him, NCERT books were his gita, bible and quran. Anything against it is illogical and deserved prosecution in the marks I get for the problems. While I try to reach the hyperbola in my life, reaching for the ends of the graph. He changes it to a parabola and side-lines me easily due to the power of Rs 5 red pen.
But my sworn enemy, the one that has rattled my family tree for decades. The one who has sworn to bring my grades down was the infamous brothers, Differentiation and Integration. I visualised them as a family of mafias. The family living far away in the land of dimensions and complex problems. Screw up with one relative, the other relatives take the revenge for you. Knowing the plans laid out for me. I approached R.D. Sharma and R.S. Agarwal. Out of desperation, even watched that annoying YouTube guy. He usually barges me with 10thgrade math concepts when all I want to do was watch Actor Vijay doing a mass entry for Nthtime. But those guys were as useful as a water heater in summer.
On the other hand, they were good stands to keep your iPad and read. Sometimes they take up the role of a pillow. But never the task of teaching me math. Just because I use it as a stand doesn’t mean I didn’t attempt learning. I did. I stalked all the formulas so much so if mathematicians make a movie. I would have been the next sensation in the world of cinema. Tried understanding the example problems to impress the exercise question so that I can ask the model paper out on a date. But, I got slapped by the example questions and relegated myself to the friend-zone.
Stress continued to climb up steadily. I made papers longer than our grocery shopping list consisting of formulas. Did numerous problems that if my solutions were right I would have achieved world peace. Nothing worked when I sat in front of the board exam paper. I remembered a part of acha’swords. ‘Jump out of the window’. But if I did proceed with that I will not be allowed to enter big doors with dignity. And I wrote what turned out to be the most incongruous symphony of all time. I did pass and scored enough but the symphony notes could not only damage ears but also hurt hearts. Ammawon the battle but lost the war.
Done with the subject, I broke off my ties by having numerous one-task stands with calculators but psychology had other plans. Now, I use the formula of standard derivation to find out the mean value. If only, I can use it to find the mean on how much both of us love or hate each other.