By some quirk of fate, three of us friends landed in an evening college. Although none of us were interested in that “god-foresaken” place, yet we somehow came together as friends. We were from totally different backgrounds. One was from Kanpur (Sunny), I was from Delhi and from a family with no business leanings, and the third was from Delhi too but from a business family (Jasbir).
Sunny and I were serious about studying hard and getting into the morning college the next year. The whole year we worked as hard as we could and we finally got the marks needed to get into the morning college. No one really thought much of it. It was something we had planned and we were able to do it finally. But strangely, Jasbir, who was a simple and carefree guy, was hit the most. He and I had become very good friends.
I remember one evening he came to meet me at my place and we were sitting outside talking when he said – “I too wish to come to your college at least for the 3rd year.” Now, in Delhi University, migrations happen in the Second Year only, not in the third year. Yet, I asked him to come over and together, we could go and ask if it was possible and what it would take for it to happen?
He came along, not sure if it was even a possibility, but our desire to be together in the third year was strong enough to propel him to come over. When we asked, the answer was yes. But the ask from Jasbir almost made it impossible. 65% total. That’s what was needed in the second year.
“Yaar, I have NEVER scored over 45% in my life!!! This cannot be done now Desh.” He said with complete dejection and walked off to his bike, started it and drove away in a very low mood.
That was the year when I was at my confident best. I knew I had nailed the whole curriculum pretty well. Things that I didn’t know, I knew I could do well anyhow. So, as usual that evening I went for my walk in the neighborhood park. Kept thinking of the whole situation in the morning and Jasbir’s shattered dream. Somehow, I kept feeling, what if we tried to do the impossible? What if, Jasbir could actually score 65%? Yes, the dude had never gone beyond 45, but what if I inspired him to get there? Now, that would be awfully cool!!
So I came home and called him, and told him in a very measured way. “Jasbir, I think you can get 65%. I will help you do that.” I said. He was now even worse, “how yaar? Will you come and write the exam for me? I told you I can’t even think of that kind of score. I have never done it in my life.. no one in my family has done it!” A little pushed back, I tried again “Jasbir, I will tell you exactly what to read in the book, what questions to prepare for the exam, and will even write and give you their answers. You just have to memorize them! And you will get 65%!” I couldn’t believe I had given him such a ridiculous guarantee. Something that even I didn’t quite certify.. but somehow I felt like it.
For some reason he bought into the whole thing. We had planned that our prep would start exactly 2 months before the exam and we drew up a whole schedule. I had to first ensure I knew what I was studying and score something good as well. Helping Jasbir was to be “passing on” of that wisdom. So we started studying. As the exams came near, I had listed my top 20 questions for each subject after a lot of careful research. Not just that, I sat down to write what I thought would be the best possible answers. Then I photocopied them and gave them to Jasbir.
In the last week before the exams, Jasbir would call me every 30 minutes to an hour and would ask me what to read next, and I would give him last minute instructions. It was weird! I was fighting hard to make sure I was getting things right, but when I would talk to him I would tell him things with such confidence that even I believed my own crap!
The exams came and our close interaction continued. He would tell me what he had answered and in some cases, he would have done a better job than me. I remember how happy he used to be at being able to know that he had answers to all the questions.
Luckily for me, my research on what questions we would see was bang on! It totally worked!
The wait for the results was over in 2 months. It was one heck of a nervous time. Jasbir was very happy that he had done the best he could ever do in his life. Then one day the results came. I was second in the college with 71% and I quickly checked with Jasbir on his result. He was really down when I called him although he put up a strong face. “Desh, I got 63%. I cannot make it to your college my friend.”
But he immediately got elated and said “But hey, I scored 63% something that I could have never dreamt of! I am very happy with that!”
Somehow, it didn’t go down well with me. I was so confident that he HAD to get 65% that I refused to even take the last line into cognizance. I said very sternly to him “Jasbir, I know you should have gotten 65%. And I will not settle for 63. File an application for a recounting of the exam.”
He laughed out loud and said “Desh nothing happens. This recounting is a big joke!”. I told him I knew that but I wanted him to apply for it even then. In anycase he had 63, so we had nothing to lose. I just had to see him in my college now, anyhow!
He very reluctantly filed for the recounting, with absolutely no confidence in what I had said. Yes, believing me and studying what I said and getting to 63% is one thing. To go and try to rejig the score to what we wanted – in a system that hardly functioned – was quite another. It didn’t take much money, so he did it to keep me happy.
We waited for a month anxiously. Then one day his phone rang and he shouted on the phone “Desh… Man, you are a fucking GENIUS! How did you know man??!! The recount result just came…. It IS 65%! I am coming with you!!”
He made it to my college. And he would ride his bike from South Delhi to my house in Central Delhi to pick me up and then go to college in North Delhi campus. But those rides where we talked endlessly will remain the most satisfying conversations in my life. His flourish and his joy that day and the whole year after that made me believe in myself much more than anything else. It was sheer magic!
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