COACH­ING CLASSES

I met our neigh­bour, Mrs Kavita Khanna, the next day while I was park­ing my car. She was gorgeous, rav­ish­ing, stun­ning – Mad­hubala, He­len and Sharmila Tagore – all rolled into one.

Woman's Era - - Contents - Dr Kal­pana Sarkar

Monty’s mother was ask­ing...” said the mis­sus. I closed my eyes. When the wife talks, the hus­band has no op­tion but to suf­fer in si­lence and lis­ten! The mis­sus is al­ways re­gal­ing me with her cor­nu­copia of use­less in­for­ma­tion. This in­cludes in­for­ma­tion about who is mak­ing sheep’s eyes at who’s wife, who’s get­ting a pro­mo­tion or get­ting the pink slip, some­one go­ing to the U.S. for their an­nual va­ca­tion, shop­ping sprees, in-law fights and the like. I don’t like to lis­ten to this end­less chat­ter, but I have no say in this mat­ter.

“As I was say­ing ...” she con­tin­ued, “Monty’s mother was ask­ing if you could give him some ex­tra coach­ing in His­tory. You know the fi­nal ex­ams are draw­ing near.”

“Just a minute,” I in­ter­rupted. “Is he not the kid who broke our kitchen win­dow last week, while play­ing cricket?” “Right,” she replied. “Then I def­i­nitely will not. Can’t stand that tyke. If I ever see him again, I am go­ing to wring his neck.”

“But you have all the time in the world now that you have re­tired!”

Let me has­ten to add here that I re­tired as a pro­fes­sor of His­tory from a re­puted univer­sity just a short while ago.

“Not on your life,” I said with em­pha­sis.

“Are you sure? Is that your fi­nal an­swer?” “Un­ques­tion­ably.” “Very well.” And she flounced off.

All the kids in our build­ing ad­dress me as un­cle. Even if I coached

“Monty’s mother was ask­ing if you could give him some ex­tra coach­ing in His­tory. You know the fi­nal ex­ams are draw­ing near.” “Just a minute,” I in­ter­rupted. “Is he not the kid who broke our kitchen win­dow last week, while play­ing cricket?” “Right,” she replied. “Then I def­i­nitely will not. Can’t stand that tyke. If I ever see him again, I am go­ing to wring his neck.”

My opin­ion of Monty which had hit rock bot­tom, now sky­rock­eted. How could I even dream of wring­ing his neck? He could now break all the win­dows of my house as long as he had a mother who looked like Kavita Khanna.

them, would they se­ri­ously see their un­cle as their teacher? Surely not! They needed some­one who was made of sterner stuff, some­one who would in­still the fear of the devil in them. And if they hadn’t paid at­ten­tion in school the whole year round, a few weeks of coach­ing would be of no help. More­over, I wanted to en­joy my re­tire­ment and not teach a bunch of sniv­el­ling brats. But some­thing hap­pened un­ex­pect­edly which made me re­con­sider my de­ci­sion.

Imet our neigh­bour, Mrs Kavita Khanna, the next day while I was park­ing my car. She was gorgeous, rav­ish­ing, stun­ning – Mad­hubala, He­len and Sharmila Tagore – all rolled into one. Ru­mour has it that she had once been a beauty queen of some sort. At her sight; my heart started pound­ing, my mouth went dry, my palms be­came clammy and my eyes popped out of my sock­ets and threat­ened to touch my spec­ta­cle lens. I stood rooted to the spot gap­ing at her like some love stuck school­boy. Sud­denly, in my mind’s eye the air was per­fumed with the scent of a thou­sand roses, the birds war­bled and in the back­ground, vi­o­lins started play­ing the melo­di­ous old Bol­ly­wood song from C.I.D. – “Aankhon hi ankhon mein

ishara ho gaya.” It was un­re­quited love, all from my side. Ev­ery man has a se­cret crush and I was no ex­cep­tion. Lucky Mr Khanna.as she came to­wards me, from the smile on her face, I could make out that she knew what ef­fect she was hav­ing on me. Dressed in palazzo pants and a lacy top, her su­perb fig­ure was clearly at an ad­van­tage.

“Shar­maji...,” she trilled, her voice smooth like honey. “Thanks for agree­ing to coach Monty.”

“Monty? Who?” For a mo­ment I was puz­zled. Then it came back to me. He was that wretched kid who broke my win­dow pane. But how did this lovely lady know him? And why was she even men­tion­ing his name? I had never agreed to coach him. So what on Earth was hap­pen­ing?

“Monty is my son,” she ex­plained, after see­ing my con­fu­sion. I was not aware of this fact. Oh dear! This com­pli­cated things and changed the equa­tion.

“Al­ways glad to help,” she added.

“Al­ways glad to help,” I smiled, show­ing my per­fect pearlies. “Any­thing for a neigh­bour.” What I ac­tu­ally meant was ‘any­thing for you.’

“You are so sweet, Shar­maji. My lit­tle minx is so naughty, he broke your win­dow pane. I’d like to com­pen­sate for the loss,” she reached into her purse and took out a wad of notes.

“No, no, please don’t em­bar­rass me,” I said. “After all kids will be kids. What dif­fer­ence does a win­dow pane make? He is such an adorable child, a pop­pet, a dar­ling...” I gushed, ly­ing through the back of my teeth and pro­long­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, so that I could drink in her beauty.

“Thank you,” she said in a de­mure man­ner. y opin­ion of Monty which had hit rock bot­tom, now sky­rock­eted. How could I even dream of wring­ing his neck? He could now break all the win­dows of my house as long as he had a mother who looked like Kavita Khanna. After all, he was a Sachin Ten­dulkar in the mak­ing and would make In­dia proud one day.

And this is how I came to be sad­dled with not only Monty, but five other kids, for an hour of His­tory tu­ition in the evenings. Of course, the mis­sus was puz­zled, at this sud­den turn of events.

All my hard work of mak­ing things in­ter­est­ing, had gone down the drain. I vowed never to teach kids again. But for me and my big mouth, I would never have got into this scrape in the first place.

“Why can’t you be con­sis­tent? What made you change your mind?” she asked.

“Noth­ing,” I replied air­ily. “I thought these poor mites could do with my help.”

Tarun and Varun were iden­ti­cal twins. It was im­pos­si­ble to tell them apart and to add to the con­fu­sion, their mother dressed them alike. One day I felt some­one re­peat­edly kick­ing my leg un­der the ta­ble. The twins were seated on ei­ther side of me.

“Stop it Tarun, don’t kick, you are hurt­ing me,” I said sternly.

“Swear to god, un­cle! I didn’t kick you, must be Varun,” came the re­ply. I turned to Varun. “No, un­cle, must be Aarav,” replied Varun.

Aarav was sit­ting at the far end of the ta­ble. How could he kick me? I re­alised they were pulling my leg. The lit­tle varmints!

Kathy the only girl in my class had an In­dian fa­ther and an English mother. Once I caught Madan yank­ing her pig­tails hard, while the oth­ers cheered him on.

“What on Earth are you do­ing?” I screamed at them.

“Just see­ing if her hair is for real or is it corn­silk,” Madan said.

“Are you sat­is­fied? Say sorry, at once!”

After much bawl­ing from Kathy, the mat­ter was set­tled.

“But, un­cle, why does she have yel­low hair?” con­tin­ued Madan.

“Be­cause her mother is an English lady. And the word is blonde not yel­low.”

“My mom gets her hair coloured blonde at the beauty par­lour, so how come I don’t have golden hair?” Madan was a pic­ture of in­no­cence.

I was stumped. “It’s best you ask your mom. Let’s con­tinue with our lessons.” I was cer­tainly not go­ing to teach them the laws of ge­net­ics.

On their last day, I gave them a small test, which yielded some mind­bog­gling re­sults, which I was not even con­scious of.

The Bri­tish left In­dia as sun­screens were not avail­able at that time and the cli­mate here was too hot for their ten­der skin.

Alexan­der the Great took the Peacock Throne with him to Greece.

Ch­ha­tra­p­ati Shivaji’s wife’s was Mrs Ch­ha­tra­p­ati Shivaji.

Christo­pher Colum­bus first in­vaded In­dia.

Shah Ja­han re­warded the con­struc­tion work­ers of the Taj Ma­hal with a pizza each.

Orig­i­nally 13 Bat­tles of Pa­ni­pat were planned, but as 13 is an un­lucky num­ber the num­ber of bat­tles was re­duced to 3.

This last gem of an an­swer was from Monty. Now, I could cheer­fully have wrung his neck.

My heart was sorely trou­bled. Dimwits, block­heads, mo­rons – I ran out of words to de­scribe them. In the twin­kling of an eye, they had com­bined and twisted An­cient and Modern In­dian His­tory as no one ever could. Amaz­ing! All my hard work of mak­ing things in­ter­est­ing, had gone down the drain. I vowed never to teach kids again. But for me and my big mouth, I would never have got into this scrape in the first place. I came to the con­clu­sion that en­coun­ters with knock­out moth­ers should not re­ally cloud your judge­ment. It is bet­ter to ad­mire them from a dis­tance rather than al­low their brats to in­vade your home and do away with your san­ity.

Life isn't about find­ing your­self. Life is about cre­at­ing your­self.

“Shar­maji...,” she trilled, her voice smooth like honey. “Thanks for agree­ing to coach Monty.” “Monty? Who?” For a mo­ment I was puz­zled. Then it came back to me. He was that wretched kid who broke my win­dow pane. But how did this lovely lady know him?

“Why can’t you be con­sis­tent? What made you change your mind?” she asked. “Noth­ing,” I replied air­ily. “I thought these poor mites could do with my help.”

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