It doesn’t add up

Last Updated : 12 December 2019, 22:01 IST

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The heart-stopping reality of walking unprepared into 12th board examination hall hits me often. In my dreams, there I am slaving over my notes and I am chillingly reminded that I haven’t even begun on my math books. I tell myself always that I will ‘read’ it soon. Aakashwani style, my father’s voice booms that no one can ‘read’ math. That demon can only be slain by doing. Fast forward to the math exam day. I step into the hall without having as much as lifted a pencil. All these years later, I wake up with a scream stuck in my throat.

This nightmare has seen constant reoccurrence for the last sixteen years, which was the last time I studied the subject. On the result day, while my friends were lamenting the loss of a couple of marks out of a hundred, my ‘67’ in Math had me sobbing. My father began consoling me until I interjected that these were tears of joy. That I cleared my 12th exams without a mishap in Mathematics was a cause for celebration. From then on, I promised to never touch that subject but this recurring nightmare is proof that Math will not let me go.

My genes must have mutated because my family thrives on this subject. Our grandparents made us recite multiplication tables at bedtime. My father’s life motto is that you can’t fail at life if you are good with numbers. My brother’s profession is about number crunching. Only I am the errant aberration. When my boyfriend met my father, the two things that redeemed him were that they shared the same profession and a love for math. The embarrassment doesn’t end here. My daughter’s favourite homework is doing math. She does extra sums for fun. And I couldn’t even do them at gunpoint.

The situation has deteriorated over the years. While most women calculate the change before the shopkeeper, I silently accept what is offered and trust his divine judgment. It is not for the lack of trying. To pretend that I am on top of my number game, I challenge the change received. Honestly, it is just to ensure that their math is updated. If I really dug in my heel and crosschecked, I would need stationery and yet, at the end of the whole charade, still believe the person behind the counter because I know I couldn’t arrive at an answer, even at gunpoint.

Math became the bane of my existence until I relinquished it for the magical world of words.

It can keep haunting me for the rest of my life, but this nightmare ends when I wake up. I know that, in life, two plus two adds up to five.

Published 12 December 2019, 22:01 IST

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