Friday, August 10, 2007

Cluck Cluck

“Have you ever had a fight with a friend that ended with both of you not talking to each other? And with the passage of time, you even forgot what you fought about?” Thus begins an article in today’s edition of Deccan Chronicle.

Yes, I remember a fight I had with a friend when I was in school. And I haven’t even forgotten what it was about. Friend is no more, meaning that he is no more my friend, after the incident that led to our fight. So, friend will hereinafter be referred to as my ex-friend.

It happened during the history class. Our regular history teacher was absent that day; so our science teacher was deputed in his place. Science teacher was making a desperate attempt to teach us all about the Maratha rule, and even asked us to draw a picture of Shivaji and name all the parts. In the midst of all this, ex-friend decided to liven the proceedings a bit and made a loud, funny noise that sounded like “cluck cluck”. Teacher turned around, looked at our faces, found mine with guilt written all over it and promptly asked me to get out of the class. Ex-friend did not even own up. I went out feeling like Sydney Carton.

Somewhat like the cheap trick that Tuppy Glossop had played on Bertie Wooster in one of the stories of P.G.Wodehouse.

Anyway, I never saw ex-friend all these years. I heard that he had settled in the USA and visited India only once in 5 years or so. But the incident rankled. The thought that the blighter would have been narrating this incident to his wife and children every second evening and laughing his guts away at my expense, was too much for me to accept.

So, imagine my shock when I bump into this ex-friend at a get-together of the alumni recently. He avoided eye contact with me throughout the evening. Naturally, shame and guilt would have been gnawing his conscience. Towards the end however, he summoned his courage, walked over to where I stood, held my hand, looked into my eyes compassionately and said,

“ Raj, you do remember the ‘cluck cluck’ incident that happened in school, don’t you?

“Of course, it is not something that one forgets easily” I replied coldly.

“ I know that the incident must have rankled in your mind, all these years”

“You bet it has”

“Raj, I want you to know that I have forgiven you long back. I know that it was some mad rush of blood that made you do that ‘cluck cluck’ noise and it certainly wasn’t your fault that that history teacher had punished me instead of you. This must have gnawed your conscience all these years. I hold no grudge against you. So, you can rest easy now. Bye”

And he walked away, sporting a halo over his bald head.

This was too terrible for words. Had I, all these years, mistakenly carried the version that friend had cluck-clucked me into trouble, when, in fact, I was the perpetrator of the plot and he the victim?

Had my faulty memory not reversed our roles, I would have been, all these years, laughing my guts out, at his expense, while narrating the incident, every second evening, to my wife and children, and the ingenious manner I had employed to get ex-friend into trouble with the history teacher. That was not to be. Sigh.

Questions:

1) What tone has the author adopted to narrate this whimsical tale? Identify the characteristics of the style which helps to establish this particular tone.

2) Study the manner in which the author has written about the science teacher taking the history class. Would anything be lost if this entire paragraph is omitted?

3) What purpose is the author desperately trying to achieve by placing the words “cluck-cluck” within inverted commas?

4) We must assume that the author has recorded only a part of the conversation that occurred towards the end of the evening. What filtering principles has he employed in making his selection?

5) This incident that the author talks about happened when he was in school. Do you detect any evidence that pinpoints the exact decade when it took place?

6) In the structure of this essay, what is the function of the exclusive paragraph on Wodehousian characters? Doesn’t the para stick out like a sore thumb?

7) What do you think is the extent of irreversible memory loss suffered by the author?

8) What is your opinion of the author’s choice of newspapers to pick up ideas for his blog posts?

Group discussions:

A friend who turns into an ex-friend is no more a friend. Discuss the implications of this assertion.

18 comments:

Lalita said...

1) PGW

2) Yup, this is history after all.

3) "cluck, cluck."

4) Those that suit him, but of course!

5) Sigh. Please!

6) It does.

7) Chap needs to be put in restraints right away.

8) Let's not go there.

Raj, I am going to start a PIL against your regular infliction of hilarity. It hurts my stomach, affects my eyes as they stream in tears of laughter. You are warned.

Sowmya said...

I don't like home work :-|

Shruthi said...

Wish I could answer all the questions but the baby is stirring.. so answering only number 2:
If that para of how the science teacher took class... asking you to draw Shivaji and name his parts.... had been omitted, I would NOT have laughed out loud, my baby would not be stirring now, and I would have been able to answer the rest of the questions.

Sankar said...

Raj It is the Science Teacher and not the History Teacher (as mentioned) in the last para or does the Science Teacher become the History Teacher by virtue of the deputation. I must thank Sruthi for highlighting the nuances contained in the words "asking you to draw Shivaji and name his parts". I laughed my guts out after reading the comment, when I understood the humour behind the statement.

Usha said...

1. Obviously a hushed tone - as he has been nursing a grudge on behalf of his friend against himself.

2.Yes a lot of amusement would be omitted and the incident may not have happened as science teachers are known to impose punishments without detailed investigation while history teachers like to dig out facts.

3.He is justifying the title - much in the manner of our film directors who like to have a dialogue that justifies the title of the film.

4. I do not know the exact term but it is quite a devious one - transferring all sympathy to himself.

5.It must have been the 60s. Nobody reads the tale of two cities after that.

6. An attempt at eliciting some sympathy for himself as a Wodehouse fan - in spite of perpetrating a heinous crime on his friend and pulling wool over his readers as a silent sufferer.

7.Very selective.

8.Random but that he manages to churn out a delightful post even froma random quote makes us forgive him all his faults (of which there seem quite a lot as I question all his statements in his earlier posts in the light of this startling revelation about his memory!)

Santhosh C said...

No one is daring to go beyond the questions and start a group discussion (which I assume would be carrying more marks than the one liner answers)

Great Imagination. A great dig on our English textbooks and the repeating pattern of questions at the end of each of its chapters!

Raj said...

Lalita, starting a PIL? Doesn't that stand for Pond's India Ltd? Please remember to send me free samples of talcum powder every month. We South Indian men love to apply that on our faces in generous doses.

sowmya, bad girl. No do homework. will tell english miss.

shruthi : Never knew I could write stirring stuff.

sankar : Science teacher was deputed to take history class and transformed into a history teacher after that.

usha, you are bang on, about the sixties. Also, I liked the point on using 'cluck cluck' in inverted commas, to establish the title. Wish I were so clever!

santhosh : yes, as the expression goes, they have all left out the question in 'choice'.

Sundar Narayanan said...

have you been invited to write the next CBSE or Tamil Nadu state board English textbooks ?

Are your readers the Chennea pigs ?

:)

Raj said...

sundar, no, just happened to read a book called "Province of Prose", which had such questions after each essay.

Philip said...

My inference is that Deccan Chronicle is a shitty newspaper. The only thing you can do with it is to use as a toilet paper.

The only good thing in the paper is the half naked women in the supplements.

Cmreddy said...

Raj,

it looks like you are taking your readers for granted. :)
Cheers.

Anon said...

Hey, you just get better with each post. Oh, Wodehouse doesn't "stick out like a sore thumb!" Raj, you are just too hilarious for words!

Raj said...

philip : strong views, eh?

reddy; no, no. I don't want readers to take me for granted, that's why I am giving them homework to do.

anon : Thanks, but why don't you get a name? Annan for instance,

Philip said...

Oh, i once used to devour DC till i discovered newspapers like Indian Express, TOI (much before it became Tabloid of India), Hindu etc.

So, ya...had a personal experience ;)

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dipali said...

Oh dear, Raj. I've forgotten the name of the memory enhancers I was going to recommend to you.....

Anonymous said...

Yes Raj u write stomach stirring stuff
Had i been Himmesh Reshammiya i woud have said "caps off to u"

Puneet

Raj said...

philip, that explains!

dipali, memory loss is correctable, but distorted memory?

puneet, I lift my cap and take a bow! Oops. Stomach stirring? Is that a compliment?