Uh-oh, twin trouble

Uh-oh, twin trouble


Uh-oh, twin trouble

There are several fictitious themes and real-life instances involving identical twins. If Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors and the like provide side-splitting humour, real-life characters have provided ample amusement, and even embarrassment, to others and sometimes to themselves.

I’m fortunate to have been born as one of a pair of identical twins with such a striking similarity to my twin Ram that it was difficult even for our parents to tell us apart. Our physical likeness grew by the year as if Nature was bent upon lending finishing touches to perfection, making one the mirror image of the other.

Our childhood experiences were both sweet and sour: each of us enjoyed rewards for the good deeds of the other as much as each suffered punishment for the other’s mischief. In order to correctly identify us, our headmaster had stipulated that Ram’s hair-parting be on the right while mine be on the left, so as to coincide with the first letter of our names. It’s not that we used this god-given gift to play pranks only on others. There were instances when Ram (the more creative and dashing of us two) used it to settle scores with me when we squabbled. Just to cite an incident, once, when I refused to allow Ram to use my new bicycle, he devised his unique means to teach me a lesson.

On that particular day, our class had a playtime break. I was engrossed in playing in the playground when Ram changed his hair parting to the left and went to the classroom where the History period was in progress, conducted by a cane-happy, Doorvasa-type teacher. Climbing from outside onto the sill of the open window of the classroom, he started dancing — like Hanuman — and singing wildly! This weird scene at once attracted the whole class, and soon the entire lot had converged at the window, joining the performer, paying no heed to the commands of the furious teacher! Result? Poor, unsuspecting me was caught unawares when I was summoned to the headmaster’s office and given a sound thrashing by the livid History teacher.

Though our lives took entirely different paths with the passage of time, nothing stopped us from enjoying the rare privilege of playing twin roles. Among myriad instances related to such pranks, the following stands out in my memory for the sheer degree of discomfiture and embarrassment I experienced in the process.

Ram, who had achieved the status of a renowned littérateur, and was an eminent public figure known for his captivating oratory, was to speak about his humorous experiences during his long stay in Paris (his book From Paris to the Beloved had just been released) at a public function organised by the Shivamogga Municipal Council. As he didn’t want to miss visiting Jog Falls, he urged me to play his role on the dais till he returned, and to somehow manage things in case he got delayed.

The programme started on time to the packed auditorium. The customary preliminary proceedings ended and the crucial moment of inviting the ‘speaker’ to the podium neared, but Ram was yet to reach the venue. I was practically drenched in sweat imagining the treacherous situation I was poised to face, since I knew nothing of the topic of the much-awaited talk. That was when I prayed to the same lord with the same fervour with which Draupadi had prayed while facing vastraharana in the Mahabharata. And lo! To my great relief, Ram appeared from the side wing just in time (dressed like me as per plan) and smoothly stepped into my place, averting a possible fiasco.