My humble attempt at a short story……
“You need to appear extremely confident at interviews even if you are actually a nervous wreck”, said my sister while I was leaving for an interview with a college that I dreamed being a part of. “Well”, I thought, I bloody well give it my best shot, or am going to let this offer just slip through my hands. I really WANT this admission, badly, it’s my dream college after all, I need it very badly, and actually I am desperate!
I don’t want any and I mean any compromises on this one GOD, please I mean puhleeeeeeze don’t let this go out of my hands. I swear I will do whatever you want, god puhleeze, gimme this one, I prayed and pleaded and begged.
As I neared the venue, I was actually quite nervous and was constantly reminded of my sister’s words, so I straightened up, tucked my tummy in, took a deep breath and entered the college premises. As I stood in the elevator, I noticed three other rather nervous faces looking up and down and I thought, man they look terrible! hope I don’t look like them.
As the elevator door opened, and before we could get out a girl rushed in sobbing, with her mom in tow, -“don’t worry honey, its ok ….” And the door shut. Gosh I thought, was the interview so tough that it actually made her cry?
Who knows what’s in store for me?
As I waited in the hall, where a few others were seated, also waiting for their turn to be called, I struck a conversation with one boy, who seemed very confident, ‘these people are simply so nervous and worried, big deal man, what’s in an interview? Simply answer the questions sensibly and you are through! “Wow” I thought, if that’s easy as it was, why are people sobbing and crying?
Any case, one more to go and then it was my turn, I the meanwhile I met someone who had been selected, ‘well” she told me, they have asked me to collect some forms so I guess I am chosen, why would they ask me to otherwise. “Makes sense”.
Then came the dreaded moment, “Jyoti”! The peon called, I entered the room trying to be as casual as possible and was so scared that they would hear my heart beating, nay pounding!
“Jyoti?” “Yes Jyoti,” I replied meekly.
“Please sit”. “Thank you”
There were three people on the panel, sitting with grim faces, as though there were swords hanging above their necks and would fall if they smiled.
Ok Jyoti, why don’t you tell us something about yourself? Frankly after the first question I couldn’t hear my self, I had drowned into some other world, I started giving them some dope on what I had studied earlier, what I had specialized in.
Suddenly they asked me, you have specialized in resource management, why a course in advertising then? Again I found myself giving them a perfect explanation and while I thought I was extremely stupid saying that, they were impressed, (which I realized later) “and what are your hobbies, what do you do in your free time? ”
Now here was a catch, “say you are interested in SOMETHING ok, a man without hobbies is a big bore”; I could hear my sister’s voice reverberating!!
While my mind was racing between cooking and reading, and I had settled on cooking to be on the safe side I spurted out “Err, well not that I get too much time to pursue them but I like reading in my past time” READING !!!!- I was shocked at my answer, but it was too late to rectify, why the hell did I say reading to a bunch of bookworms, or so they seemed to me! Gone, I have lost this admission, one question on any book other than Archie’s Digest, Calvin and Hobbes or a Garfield and I am Done!!!
“Oh! That’s nice, what kind of books interest you?” Again my mind raced between comics – nah that’s for kids, novels – what kind? Mills and boons, nooooo that’s too ‘teen-age’, I don’t know a single author, non-fiction? What’s that? Better still what’s fiction?
“Serious books!” I replied, SERIOUS BOOKS? What the hell is that? Jyoti what are you doing? I wanted the ground to part immediately so I could bury myself in it.
” Hmm ok, which is the latest book that you have read or are reading?”
NOW WHAT you nincompoop? I asked myself, when an image of my sister sitting on the couch with a recent controversial book flashed before my eyes, I faintly remembered having read the gist at the back of the book.
Ok I thought, that’s it; ” I am currently reading ‘Lajja’ – the controversial book by Taslima Nasreen”
“Ah that famous book, what is it about?”
O Oh, guess I am not destined to get into this college.’ ” Err… its about the atrocities on Bangladeshi Women”. I lied through my teeth, confidently nevertheless, and such was the confidence that I could have convinced the author herself that that was what her book was about.
“Ah, and how do you find the book?”
“Oh, it’s very interesting, so far, well written, simple language, good, yeah it’s good!” Well as long as I didn’t have to comment on the contents…guess the last answer was good enough!
” Oh that’s very good, so how different do you think is the status of and Indian woman vis-à-vis women in Bangladesh”.
“Oh, going by the book, we are far ahead. Women in India are free to do what they want, have made it big in fields that are predominantly male”.
“But that’s just a small part, women in India’s villages do not share the same lifestyle as a girl in the city”
“True, but even in the villages they are not powerless, most Indian villages have women in their panel of the panchayat (village Govt.), so on and so forth… blah blah.”
Taslima Nasreens book had led us to women empowerment not only in India but far flung countries of the East and the Middle east and so on…
By the end of the interview I was very confident, in fact a little overconfident that I had made it!!!
” Please wait outside, you will be given a form to fill, with details of the fees etc…
” I could help but grin” ” I thanked them profusely like as though they had admitted a dying me to an hospital!
“You got through? ” A few nervous wrecks came up to me, as I shut the door behind me. “Yeah sure, no problem at all. The interview was quite a breeze; they have asked me to fill the forms”.
“Wow, so lucky!” I heard in the background as I entered the elevator.
I reached home, and there as usual I saw my lazy sister sprawling on the couch with her book, ‘Lajja’.
I dashed to the couch and grabbed the book from her; amidst her screams I read a review by a newspaper on the cover of the book.
‘Lajja beautifully depicts the horror faced by many Hindu households in an Islamic country like Bangladesh, and especially at a time when the Moslem community was gunning for their throats, in the event of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, truly the work of a master”