Life is like a big nested if-then-else loop or a like a big decision tree where a decision on each node can take a totally different path. It will still end at the bottom of the page but I am talking about life and not death. Sometimes a small incident/decision/indecision can give a completely different shape to your future. Here is one of such incidents in my life.
While preparing for engineering entrance exams, I had filled forms for IIT-JEE, Roorkee Engineering College (It wasn’t an IIT then) and MNREC. Everything was going on fine till the last month when I realized that everyone had received their Roorkee Admit cards except me. I got a little worried and went to IIT Kanpur (centre of exam for Roorkee in Kanpur) to find out the status of my admit card. Like me they also had no clue about it and asked me to wait for some more time. I did. But it didn’t and there were just couple of weeks remaining. So I called up Roorkee Engineering College but no avail. I got worried because no admit card means I could write only 2 of the exams. So I was going to lose 33% of my chances. Although it struck me later that it also worked in my favour. If earlier the probability of clearing 1 out of all the exams I was writing was 1/3, now it had gone up to half.
But I didn’t give up. I kept waiting.
I waited till the exam day. Being the month of May, I went to play cricket at 5:00 AM in the morning. We were fielding but my eyes were always on the road to home thinking - Dad will come running and say “Hey, we got your admit card. Roorkee director himself came to deliver it.”
Our batting started and I went to open it. Mix of frustration and anger made me a totally different batsman and I hit opponent’s fastest bowler for 4 consecutive fours. Everyone was shocked to see a guy weighing less than 45 KGs hitting with such power. I bet I, in those 4 balls, was better than Sehwag these days. I tried to do the same on 5th ball but got out. As I turned back, I saw my father standing just out of the ground.
“Well played” he said.
“So finally my admit card has come. If we rush, I can still get 1 hour of maths exam”
“Why are you always in such a hurry? If you were a little patient, you were still batting there” he said. He had played at club level with the likes of Gopal Sharma, Rahul Sapru etc. “Forget this year, be patient and try next year.
Luckily I got through JEE and Roorkee didn’t matter.
Few years later, 2003 to be precise, my family visited me in Bangalore where I was working. One day, my father came to me and said
“I have to confess something to you” he said.
“And what would that be? I am adopted and the usual filmy stuff?” I expected him to find some sense in my humour.
“Shut up!!!” obviously he failed to find it.
“Okay. What is it?” I asked.
“It struck me last year. Initially I thought I would never tell you this but you must know this. But first promise me, you will not get angry”
“You bought another insurance policy for me with premium being more than my salary?”
“No. That will not be a confession. That will be informing you about a transaction to be coming in your books” he was an accountant.
“Ok. What is it?”
“You remember you couldn’t write Roorkee exam?”
“Yeah how can I forget it?”
“You remember the address?”
“Why? Are we going to Roorkee to find out what happened with my admit card?”
“No. The address said some typical name which I can’t recall. Let’s say it was Ramgarh”
“So you want to confess you don’t remember the name of the place. Dad, it is not a confession. It is accepting that your memory is ageing” I laughed.
“Apart from UP (Roorkee was still in UP then), there is a Ramgarh in Rajsthan also” he said.
“So? Is this a confession? I think it is geographical knowledge.”
“Remember I posted your form. I sent it to Ramgarh in Rajasthan”
“What?” I did not get it clearly.
“I sent it to Ramgarh in Rajasthan. Whereas Roorkee’s Ramgarh is in UP”
“That means postman must be searching for Roorkee Engineering College in some village in Rajasthan. The college never received my application form hence no admit card”
“Yes. Now don’t get angry. You promised”
“Dad? You spoiled my career?”
“Spoiled? I saved you. You got through JEE. Since you knew the JEE result, you never wrote MNREC exam. Had you cleared Roorkee, you might have got confused. But it is good that you didn’t write it. You avoided confusion and went to best college available to you as per your rank”
“But Roorkee is an IIT now. IT BHU is not.”
“Come-on. It’s just the difference of one I. Okay. May be I made it. Take it as a gift“
“And how is that?”
“I took away the I of IIT from you but gave you the U of BHU”
“Between I and U, I always give more importance to U”
I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I was just wondering what if that form was dispatched on correct address; I had cleared the exam and joined Roorkee. What difference it could have made?
But later I realized I wouldn’t have been doing any better than what I am doing currently. After all it is said in economics – “In the long run, every economy achieves its maximum potential”. And 13-14 years are long enough I guess.