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   Chapter 12 Student again

Aberration By Sundaram Characters: 6422

Updated: 2020-12-29 06:18

The classes for the master of engineering in Structural Engineering duly commenced in the government college. The principal greeted the batch of students numbering twenty on the first day. The regular boys apart we're two in number. The rest four of our engineers enrolled themselves in other disciplines relating to Civil Engineering. The regular boys christened us Senior citizens and that we'd to bear up. Sometimes I thought they'd have named us at least senior students. The first semester was joyful for once again after ten years gap we loitered in the college. Some girls called us uncle but did help us dutifully in computer labs and field works. We used to wonder about the swiftness with which the regular students handled the computers and the assignments. When the first-semester examination dates were out the two of us, the senior citizens really felt frightened. The subjects of mathematics and computer application were difficult to grasp. At times we even thought to quit the course and go away but who'd bear the brunt, the huge amount at stake and on our head? We spent hours and hours and visited American and British libraries. It's such pain to keep awake late in the night and study the basics. The laziness always vanished at the very thought of the large amount to be made good to the government in case of failure to acquire the degree within the stipulated time. Sometimes when we ran into our staff at the canteen we made it a point to chat with them in a friendly manner, enquiring about their family members and their place of living. It so happened the professor who handled mathematics for us was a resident of the staff quarters built within the campus. He invited us to visit him in the quarters someday. That's a turning point. We made use of his invitation to open up discussions which he at his own will entertained. Quite a few times we carried out some of his obligations though he's opposed to such practice. But his wife stood by our side. She said: "What if Sundar withdraws the cash for us from the bank after all he's passing by the Bank every morning?"The professor had no say. On one occasion we took his boy with us to the super bazaar for him to buy some dresses. The professor called out loudly:"Sekar what's it you're doing and your friend Sundar? You must rather worry about your examinations than to run errands for my son or wife. I'm not for such things." "Professor why'd you offend the boys? They prefer doing petty jobs for us just because they're your students."The professor grinned: "Yes mam they're my aged boys."The madam had a soft corner for us and she always rewarded us with a fresh filter coffee. She's a pleasant aberration! In the following days, we improved and scored good marks in the semester examination. Our performance was even a surprise to us and that gave us a fillip to do well in the subsequent semester examinations. During the course of our college studies, we commuted by the state transport town services. We had obtained the necessary bus pass and identity card. Once while going to college from our home stop the conductor demanded we buy the tickets. Since my friend Sekar and I stayed at the same locality, he was

my companion in going to the college also. Sekar showed him his pass. Looking at the pass the conductor said: "Sir this's a student pass. Are you a student? You must be around thirty-plus and you want me to believe."Upon which some of the students both boys and girls who're in the bus giggled. Then Sekar produced his identity card. The conductor made a sarcastic remark: "The older people enact student life. Okay."It's all in our stride until we successfully completed the course. It's all like a dream come true. At the end of the deputation, we marched back to the office. We learnt that our superintending engineer got promoted as chief engineer and there's someone else in his place. We enquired about his new office and that was within the city. We went all the way with the hope that he'd arrange for our posting within the city for at least a couple of years more in view of our children about to write the final school examinations. We met him. "Sir we're back and we've successfully completed our deputation.""Well done my boys. Congratulations.""Thank you very much sir; our boys and girls are to take the school final examinations next year. If we'd continue in the city for another two years it'd be greatly helpful to us." Said both of us in unison. "Are you willing to work in this special office? But I can accommodate only one person. Would that be okay?""Thank you very much, sir. I will join, " I said. Sekar followed: "Sir I have a vacancy in the chief engineer's office where I worked last. I can join there. But we thought we both could find accommodation in the same office."The chief engineer said: "Well go ahead Sekar. It's time you had learnt living all by yourself. Do you think you can be together forever?"We felt some pinch and looked at him. He hasn't changed in the two years. He dialed a number and spoke:"This is special chief engineer calling from Saidapet. You're telling of a vacancy of an assistant engineer? I'm sending an assistant engineer. Please accommodate him in your office. He's previously working under me and he'd be useful." We never knew what the reply from the other side was. But the chief engineer said: "Well boys all the best. I've got a discussion now with the superintending engineers of our branch. Sekar you approach the superintending engineer in Chepauk and he'll post you there."Then it's clear our chief engineer has talked to the superintending engineer at Chepauk. This superintending engineer succeeded our engineer. Our engineer handed over the post at Chepauk on promotion as chief engineer and moved to Saidapet. Thanking him again we left. It's a great thing he recognized us and did a favor. This is a world where people are pucca timeservers and they just don't care once our back is turned. It's again an aberration! Sometimes modesty stands in the way of self-resolving. But a kind of aberration pushes us forward to commit and that's the impetus driving us to achieve. These days when I happen to pass by the government engineering college in the city golden memories pervade my heart. Strangely it feels as though the past was a different world! Shanmugasundaram Arunachalam

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