“He is a very intelligent and sharp fellow, uncle”
The young man said. We were in the same queue waiting for our chance in front of the speed post counter. The young man was my friend’s son and he was talking about one of his former classmates who happened to be a dentist. Like me. Well, not exactly. His classmate was intelligent and sharp. And I mean mentally sharp. (Any dental patient will testify that all dentists are sharp when it comes to cutting pockets.)
“He is completing his post graduation in maxillofacial surgery this year.”
I agreed that he must be really intelligent and sharp if he could qualify for a MDS seat in maxillofacial surgery. I said that he must have been quite high in merit list. I also mentioned that in the ‘open market’ that seat cost anywhere upwards of 35 lakhs.
“No, no, he did not have merit. He did not even take the entrance test. But he got the seat. That’s why I said that he is very intelligent. And he managed to get the seat for 20 lakhs. He is very sharp!”
Even though I am nearing fifty five and have learnt the meanings of the words like ‘intelligence’ and ‘sharpness of mind’ nearly forty years back, I have been seeing the world and have noticed that these words have acquired new meanings. But old learning does not die and I still tend to associate the words with old meanings. I need to be constantly reminded that the meanings of certain words have changed. If you had just narrated my young friend’s words and had asked me to use one word for such capabilities, I might have foolishly used ‘cunning’ or ‘crooked’ or some such thing.
“You know what he did? He went to this college well in advance, even before he finished his internship, made a deal for the seat and booked it paying in full. He got it cheap. Later the prices went up. still,the college did not ask for more. And they arranged things very nicely without any hassles or goof ups. They are very efficient and smart. They gave him the entrance test paper, asked him just to write his number and other details and told him to mark answers in pencil if he so wished. Rest, they arranged perfectly. Now he is finishing. He will be starting his practice in Bombay.”
New meanings for ‘efficient’ and ‘smart’ too. We had been taught to call the above arrangement, ‘fraudulent’ or ‘cheating’. And I am sure that the student was as intelligent and sharp while doing his MDS and the college management, equally efficient in seeing him through.
As we ‘liberalised’ ourselves in all ways, overhauled our attitudes and money replaced brains in our education system, use of whatever one processed (in whichever way), to get what one did not or could not, is no longer frowned up on. But still, I was under the impression that we had retained a bit of old values and saw the acts such as the one mentioned above with contempt at least when they were obvious. Here, I did not see even a hint of a feeling of wrong doing or contempt when my young friend spoke about his classmate. It was pure admiration and appreciation.
I am not a puritan and I do not stand on a moral pedestal. Still, this tendency scares me. But, maybe there is no need. If this is how things are going to be and if they are accepted by the society and future generation with equanimity, well, who am I to comment?
The photographs of Ms Mayavati with her huge garland of currency notes caused lot of enragement and invited sharp criticism. But, one of the well known columnists has written that Ms Mayavati needs to be appreciated for her candour. What other politicians did in their drawing rooms, she did in front of a large gathering.
So, if the wrongs are openly done, at least appreciate the ‘honesty’!
Story published in Papercuts
6 days ago