For those who haven't read Part I, do go through it here.
It is like a hurricane, a tsunami, a whirlpool only few can escape. X never even tried escaping it. School, parents, advertising boards and local shopkeepers make sure that you prepare for IIT JEE. ‘Unka ladka abhi US mein hai. Kharagpur se padhai ki thi usne.Tumne bhi shuru kar di hogi.’ Ashok Uncle reminded him when he went to buy paan for guests in his house. Every paanwala close to the colony in which X lived knew this.
What books to read, what coaching teachers to approach? These questions never ceased to come up in discussions. ‘You should start with NCERT texts, basics clear hoti hai unse, aisa Amit ke bhaiya ne oose bola hai. Abhi IIT Bombay mein hain. Fir H C Verma padhna. Uske baad Irodov.' Tips flowed like water in nearby Damodar.
XYZ Sir had many batches of Physics running simultaneously. But if you went to the morning batch you could attend school directly after that. He taught close to school. PQR Sir Classes should always be attended after school. ‘Agar Sir kisi sawal pe atak gaye to class nahi chootti. Rukna padta hai.’ But he was the only teacher to be open about questions and tried (and solved) every question that came his way. ‘Organic Chemistry to bas ek hi banda paar laga sakta hai. He has developed his own 4 step process to understand these complex mechanisms. Poori batch bhari rehti hai uski. Wo bhi aati hai.’ X’s friend informed him about another schoolmate of theirs who used to attend these organic coaching classes. ‘Fiitjee mein kya enrol karega, same teachers aa ke time slot mein padha jate hain. Fiitjee test series mein enrol kar le.’ And the saga of exams continued with All India test series in which most of the questions were unanswerable for X. One had an All India Ranking which fluctuated like mobile signals on Mumbai local. How can the same student slip so much in All India ranking within one week? X did that though.
Fortunately, during those times, professional coaching had not reached his city as it has now. Most of the classes happened in the car garage. Teachers did not seem interested in aesthetics. If you reached late in a popular coaching class, you could be sitting stuck to unpainted brick walls. It was worse if they were painted. Another issue was the cycle stand. Neighbours would complain regularly. ‘Yahan cycle mat laga,’ even when you could see few cycles standing. If the class was 2 hours long, the teacher would not mind asking his family to bring him tea. For one of the young teacher classes, this was an incentive for some students. They were more interested in his wife who brought tea than the board with complicated formulas. Why did these students attend coaching? People like X were serious. But they were not. Attending IIT coaching class was a fashion, a requirement, even though passing in board exams could have been difficult for some of them.
X got used to a routine in Class XI. Wake up. Read if there is no tuition class. Go to school. Come back and read. Go to bed and sleep. The only place one could get to relax and socialise was school. And that is how it turned out to be. School teachers are bound by CBSE curriculum. And it had entered X’s mind that if you are well prepared for IITJEE, CBSE would be a cakewalk. Some of his friends thought it too. So they made up a gang and named it Panther. Panther gang had 3 founding members including X. Its job was to maintain order in class. There were few set of rules one had to follow. Anyone disobeying it would get a handkerchief slap (it really hurts if you know how to stretch a handkerchief and provide an impulse to somebody close by). Entry into the gang was through stern tests which cannot be talked about here. Hindi film ‘Josh’ had released sometime then. It had Eagle and Bicchu gang as enemies. Shahrukh khan was the head of Eagle gang in the movie. Panther, it was decided, needed an enemy. Hence one of the peaceful fellows of the class was made the sole member of the Bicchu gang. And whenever there was nothing to do, the Bicchu gang was attacked. Each member had an imaginary girlfriend who would come up in discussions of the gang. This was what X had for entertainment.
Romance had little space. All one could do was impress girls in the Maths, Physics and Chemistry class. But there were many smart people present. His section produced more than 10 students in IITs. Competition never left him.
Class XI passed in stern preparation. ‘Best hoga agar 11 ka portion khatm kar le aur 12 ka bhi thora sa padh le.’ One of his friends had suggested. It didn’t happen for X though.
Note: Just like the first one, if there are atleast 20 comments on this post, the tale would continue further.