It was a family belonging to Indian middle class. The man, the only earning member of the family of three was a reputed government servant. His wife came from an ex-feudal family and was trying to raise her child to fulfill the common aspiration of post-colonial Indian middle class – maintaining the same socio-economic status for generations to come.
The child, in fact an adolescent boy was not very studious. But he was sharp enough to crack Joint Migration Entrance (JME) examination, gateway to reputed government engineering colleges in the region which is a dream of many. The day the boy secured admission to mechanical engineering department of a reputed government, college, he realised the meaning of achievement in life. He immediately called his mother after the admission process was over. His mother, though not very happy with his ranking, assumed that her brother, a good academic performer and well-known teacher from a famous school, would be the best person to recognise the achievement of her son. She decided to give him the good news at once.
A telephone call is the quickest option to reach one, and she opted for that.
“Hello, is this Reena? ” Reena was the wife of her brother, Biltu.
“Yes didi, how are you? How are the kids?” and a familiar conversation followed.
Everything was fine at both sides, children were studying, men were working and laundrymen were showing up on weekends as usual in both the homes. Finally our lady broke the news. “I have some good news this time, our Bablu cracked the JME. He opted for Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Technological University.”
Reena sounded overwhelmed with joy. “It’s not good news didi, its great news!”
She also had two young kids; she knew how a mother feels when a not-so-attentive child does well in life. But she had never studied in colleges or universities, so she wanted her pundit husband to proceed with the conversation. “Didi, you should talk to your brother; many of his students are also studying in that college. He will be so happy….just hold on, he is right here!”
Didi: “Biltu, Bablu cleared JME; he has been selected for Mechanical Engineering in Indian Technological University.”
Biltu: “What are you saying? You mean – Bablu?”
Didi: “Yes, and he will move to hostel by next week. I thought of giving you the good news.”
Biltu: “Impossible! That college never had a Mechanical Engineering department! I have never heard of it!”
Didi: “Ohh, then you ask your students there. They have the oldest Mechanical Engineering department in the country.”
Biltu: “No, I am sure; they have is no Mechanical Engineering department in that college.”
This time the voice was harsher, leaving his sister completely clueless about what might have happened with her brother. After a pause, she sounded angry too, “Do you mean I am lying?”
Biltu: “How do I know that? I, being a senior academician know that there is no Mechanical Engineering department in that college.”
The phone line went dead. The sister, visibly angry and confused, disappeared in the kitchen, regretting her decision of communicating the news to her insane high-headed brother.
The phone rang after a while. One of her family members had called. “Didi, is it true that Bablu cleared JME? Biltu called to say that you passed the news to him, though he is sure you are blowing a false trumpet for your son, because there is no Mechanical Engineering department in that college. Anyway, forget it, we all know Biltu. Say congratulations to your son – he deserves it!”
The lady was furious. But it did not make sense to be rude with relatives, especially when she was not sure who she was angry with.
Within another hour she received calls from her next brother’s wife, then from one of her four sisters and then from another one who stayed some 2000 kilometers away. Everyone continued congratulating her son for securing a seat in ITU Mechanical Engineering department, along with the information of Biltu spreading the story of his sister’s attempt to “deceive” everyone.
Half of the day passed – a call came from another of her brothers: “Congratulations to Bablu! You know what happened? Biltu called us. Probably he called all of us to say that you are bluffing the family with wrong information – that there is no Mechanical Engineering department in ITU, but you told Bablu is going to study there. I told him that my colleague’s son is studying in the same department of the same college, but he was not ready to listen…”
The lady went speechless by the time the caller on the other side of the phone stopped. As they finished talking, she kept the phone silently, as if she was scared to disturb even the apparatus. And then, she burst into tears. “Why did I talk to him about this? He will make a clown of himself to everyone in the world now – how come I didn’t understand my own brother? Why am I so dumb…?”
Biltu continued calling the rest of the relatives trying to convince them that his sister was bluffing around…