It was a difficult question. By now I had realized it. Worst – he too realized it. You can see it in his sly smile as he toyed with the paper weight on the table while I perspired and struggled hard to think of something.
July 2010. The summer season should have been over and monsoon rains should have begun. But there were no signs of it; the clouds were clear as a crystal and sun was shining bright in the sky. It was the period of hot summer just before the rains like a dark night before the sun rise.
July 28, it was an important day of my life. This was my fourth and the last attempt to get an admission in a college for post-graduate degrees. I had already appeared for three interviews but none of them worked out. This too was possible only after completing innumerable tests.Today’s interview was my last hope – I would either survive it or it would be the last nail in the coffin.
I tried to reach there early given the traffic and weather in the city. It was a nice place and I was already dreaming about some day when I would walk down the corridor; enjoy sometime with friends in the canteen; late night assignments in the dorms. It was a dream that I had come to cherish even before realizing it but I wanted to live. At the reception, I was given a number and asked to wait outside the corner office where interviews were being conducted. I went to the bench just outside the office and waited for my turn. Students with expressions of hope, despair or regret can be seen coming out of the interview room. Finally it was my turn. I had never thought the sound of one’s heartbeat can grow so loud that it can make the surroundings mute. It was deafening.
Upon entering the room, I graciously greeted each of the three members of the panel. For them, perhaps, I was just another candidate as they returned cold greetings with stoic face. I noticed my application form, slightly set aside among others, on the desk. The interview began in a usual manner with questions such as “Tell me about yourself.”, “Why this specialization?”, “Why this college?”. Everything was going fine until they reached the section of interests in my profile. One of the panelist got intrigued and remarked “hmm, reading!”
“So, tell me what books have you read recently?” asked the intrigued guy. I told him about this book titled “Go Kiss the World” by Subroto Bagchi. Honestly, I had not read it completely but I had planned to finish it. The intrigued guy got further interested in the conversation as he leaned towards the desk from his laid back posture in the chair. “Have you read other works of the same author?”, he asked. “No, I have not read them but I plan to do soon”, I told with an air of enthusiasm and keenness just to keep his interest. “Is it the one that was recently published, what’s the name?” said the guy sitting on the right of the intrigued guy while scratching his head. Suddenly, I could not think of the name of the second book. I had remembered the names of all three books when preparing for this interview but I had forgotten it.
For me, the time had stopped and a moment felt like an eon. I could not believe myself failing to answer this simple question that I had known all this while. I was of two minds – I was trying to dig the name of the book from the depths of my mind. Concurrently my mind was also busy envisaging my immediate future should I fail to answer this question in next few minutes. The latter was overpowering and it was not a pleasant future. I had lost my composure and I was losing the time. Although the room was air-conditioned I could feel the beads of sweat trickling down my nape. The intrigued guy was about to give up, raising his hand gesturing that it was over, when I managed to open my mouth and blurt out…… (to be continued)
You can read the second part here.