Antidote for dozing


Imagine the predicament, therefore, when the class is handled by teachers who have mastered the art of turning the lesson into a lullaby. For obvious reasons, I always found the first period, post-lunch, the most challenging. Not that my lunch had any sleep-inducing ingredient. In fact, the kichidi and subzi packed to capacity in the morning and turned into an unpalatable cold mass by lunch time seemed to have every ingredient that would want to make a teenager climb a wall! Yet, every afternoon, I would end up brushing shoulders with the sleeping beauty herself. Every cell in my body seemed to plead, “Let me sleep now, just for this period…”

“Is my voice so sweet that you are falling asleep?” The stinging words of my class teacher would pierce through my ear drums and drooping eyelids most afternoons, waking up many other sleeping beauties in class. But for me, it was a battle I lost every single day. As my hypothalamus sent “sleep signals” to my body first thing after lunch, I faced the recurring problem of falling asleep in class. Admonishes, shouts and sometimes even humble requests, came from the patient teachers of my high school days.

The problem became so chronic that one day, out of sheer despair, I confided the situation to my uncle. “Oh, don’t worry! This is a common problem. I too faced it in my school days. There is a simple and very effective antidote. You need to pinch the inner part of the upper arm real hard. Like this…” he demonstrated to me with a hard pinch. “The grapevine has it that even Albert Einstein used this technique to conquer sleep and boredom, in moments of vulnerability,” he continued, ignoring my pain.

Excited with the prospect of having the perfect antidote to the perennial sleep problem, I walked into my class with the poise of a confident juggler the next day. I felt like I had all the answers to my ‘dozing problems’ in that one pinch. When the Civics lesson on “The Union Legislature” commenced in the afternoon, I launched into the act. I lifted my right hand to give a clean, hard pinch to my left arm… I waited in anticipation as the colour of my skin agonisingly changed to a fiery red… no change… despite the nagging pain the pinch left in my arm, I ended up sleeping through the entire class while the teacher droned on about how our country’s leaders reach the helm of affairs. Disappointed, I flew into a rage on meeting my uncle the next day.

“Your pinch therapy is bogus; it did nothing to help me conquer my drowsiness in class,” I yelled at my uncle. “That is impossible! It is a time- tested remedy. You have faltered somewhere. Tell me exactly what you did,” he asked, as if questioning a convict in the witness box. As I explained the torture I endured of pinching my one hand with the other, his lips turned into a familiar mocking grin. “Not your hand, silly! You should pinch the hand of the student sitting next to you. That will keep not only you but also your partner awake; similar to buy-one-get-one-free bargains,” he said with a straight face, leaving me with only one option; to run after him to “test pinch” on his hands that had just imparted the technique of the “antidote for dozing”!

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