Formality of the institution
Formality of the institution
“Stand up!” A voice startled me. He was a tall man with spectacles standing on a slightly elevated platform sneering at me. I looked around, confused as to what made me teleport from a mindless hangout to this gloomy classroom. Although I was wishing for the opposite, but unfortunately the former was a daydream. Now, getting out of the confusion of the reality and imagination, I stood up and tried to pretend less befuddlement. Everyone in the classroom giving me a snobbish look was in no way mitigating my sudden anxiety when yet another question was thrown at me, ‘Did you get what I just explained?’ Well, it actually meant asking someone who was having a pleasant daydream to have understood something in, not even a slightly interesting lecture. Since, I had no intention to gratify the teacher; I concluded that a simple no would suffice. The ignominy that followed my subtle reply with the murmurs amongst the attentive, sincere bunch of students when I was asked to stand at the door seemed as an aspersion on my image.
Nevertheless, as the event had already become so riveting, I quietly moved to the door without the slightest combat of words. After the hiatus pertaining to my non-attentiveness, the lecture resumed. The funny thing about the whole event was that I still had no idea what the teacher was speaking, instead of standing against the whole class, staring at the faces of seemingly attentive and sincere students was a bit more interesting than the daydream. The masquerade that was happening in the room was rather amusing to watch. The first bencher’s bunch of sycophants was extra cautious to impress the teacher and follow his lecture word by word. They also prompted the answers to his unasked questions. I wonder what their fear was about, to be so pretentious of being interested in just a formality class. Yes, a formality. I become certain of the fact when I noticed the teacher.
With a grim frown on his face, he was just reading a topic from a book and explaining on the board in between, in case he got bored of watching the drowsy faces of students. What else could he do! Education is not as it used to be, he wouldn’t teach what he knew or wanted to or was good at, but what was dictated to him by the set of experts who formed a board of dictators and believed they knew better about what we had to study. I was beginning to get lost in my imagination about the education system when my thoughts were put to stop for the third time of the day, when a cell phone rang, its sound echoing through the silence of the class. The teacher took a relieving sigh, stared at his cell for a while and then slowly walked out of the class conversing. The moment he went outside, there was an exodus of emotions in the classroom. I could hear combined random voices of my friends about facebook, sports, new drama in college, and stuff that they were actually bothered about. A friend of mine who took a quick selfie winked at me. At the same time, our teacher was spending a relaxed time outside talking to I supposed, his long lost friend, stretching himself as he was tired of being in a stiff position for a long time. After yet another break, he came inside the class and inquired about the remaining time.
There were enthusiastic prompts of, ‘only 5 minutes’. Taking a deep sigh, he opened his log book to mark our attendance. Everyone became for the first time, actually focussed and silent confirming their presence one by one. Of course, they were serious about claiming their physical presence in the class; rather it might have been the sole purpose of their presence. And, and wait, he picked up his stuff to leave the class and I suddenly realized that he had not called out my name. ‘’ But Sir, my attendance.” He gave me a stark look and shook his head indicating that I would be marked absent for the day. It was a wham, a shock, a setback, I was terrified.
Surely, he was joking. What was the meaning of my life if I was not being marked present for the class I had attended? I had been marked present even for some classes that I did not attend! I followed him asking for an apology, until he stopped, looked at me and said, ‘’ Why do you attend this class if you are not interested? What are you doing around here?” There was a kind of crack in his voice, gloominess in his eyes, wrinkles of exhaustion on his face, seeming like he was asking the question to himself. I replied with utmost sincerity, ‘’ I am just following THE FORMALITY OF THE INSTITUTION.”
The seriousness of his face dropped. “Just like you are, Sir,” I added. He looked at me with a sense of amazement but satisfaction opened his logbook and marked present against my name. Before I could thank him, he smiled and went away.