Maths
was my waterloo, which prevented me from becoming Napoleon.

My
father PEG was Ramanujam, the decimal man. While he was not administering
Karachi, when I was yet to line up as an embryo in his scrotum, he spent all
his time writing maths books, ‘Teach Yourself Maths’ series, five volumes,
which became the first Maths Ram text books in Independent India as well as
well as Pak. Unfortunately, when my turn came to line up as an embryo
post-independence, my father did not pass any of his DNA to me, reason why I
was Musth Ram and not Maths Ram.

At
‘Amba-La-Puzha’ where I was born and grew up, when I was rearing to go and be the goal keeper in the local junior communist
football league match (with a tennis ball) on Sunday mornings, my father would snigger, ‘Come, let us prove zero is
not equal to zero’; which was his
funniest joke.

As
I grew up, under the shadow of the
comely Marxist terrorist Miss Kunnikkal

*Ajitha, nurtured and tutored*by the Rasputin EMS Bumboo-Thiri-Pad, I became allergic to many people besides my father; Pythagoras, Calculus and Arithmatix in particular - all of them considered to be anti-people, all Maths Rams. Sadly, my father deposed my Napoleonic ambitions and sent me to St Elba (Rimc), where I was fed scotch eggs, like slow lead poisoning of Napoleon, to kill the commie worms in my tummy and turn me from vermin to soldier, still with a grudge towards my father, Pythagoras, Calculus and Arithmatix, the Maths Rams of my life. I didn’t have to worry about Mathematrix or curvaceously comely Cos Theta, just the silly 1/ 60 rule of navigation, till I decided to become a test pilot at the age of 32.
In the outback of Bidar, where I was posted as a flying
instructor, salvation was in Papnash and Nanak Jeera. Life became difficult on
a salary of around Rs 850, especially when
my tiny son started eating like ‘Bhima’, one tin of
baby food in two days. It made me bankrupt. After a combined visit to Papnash and Nanak Jeera, I got salvation,
enlightenment. ‘Do A2 and go to Iraq, Saddam will take care of you’, the Gods whispered in my ears. So I dusted
the old copies of IAP 124, FIS prĂ©cis, and the ‘Naval Aviator’s Ki Voh’, but got
stumped by illustrious finger master Punia Sir who took the viva, mother of all
A2 tests.

He asked, ‘Why are golf
balls dimpled’ ?

‘I have no clue’, I
told him seriously. ‘I don’t play golf, only football with a tennis ball’.

He gave me another
chance.

‘Why do bowlers vigorously rub one side, same side of the
cricket ball, on their crotch, before they bowl ?’.

‘Perhaps they have a Dhobi’s itch ?’, I suggested with wit and a QFI’s ‘fault
finding’ wisdom, hopping to be sent to Iraq. I was going to add ‘Elementary Dr
Watson’, but didn’t, because of Saddam’s wet dreams were not supposed to have
humour in it.

Punia told me to go learn Kutta’s theorem and Magnus effect,
the things that happen in boundary layer.
He told me to go befriend Maths Ram Mathematrix, whom I had avoided even in
FIS. In any case, the Gods in Papnash
and Nananjeera had given same
enlightenment to every man and beast in Training Command, starting from the
C-in-C to the AF police at the railway gate in Bidar which doubled as the
quarter guard. The same Saddam wet dreams. The queue was very long, from Trg
Cmd to AEB in Hindon. I realised that by
the time my turn came, my son would have grown a moustache between his legs
despite my bankruptcy.

So I went again to Papnash and Nanank jeera, bribed Lord Shiva with go-go
nuts, put 50 Naya Paisa into Jeera Hundi, and sought further advice. Despite
many appeals, the Gods were silent. Apply, apply no reply. Several days later, it was the ghost of Kutub
Shahi Sultan Qasim Barid who gave me good advice.
‘Go become a TP, you will get Rs 400 per
month, a 50% pay hike’.

So it was that I turned up in ASTE begging to be made a TP.
They promptly handed me two question papers, and gave me an hour to answer
each. The first was about flying and aeronautics, not difficult for a QFI with
Saddam dreams. But the second one was pure Maths Ram, with Pythagoras,
Trignometrix, Calculus, ‘Tadka Marke, with Khatta Nimbu and no salt’.

I could hear my late father’s ghost snigger, ‘come, let us
prove zero is not equal to zero’.
I scored zero, because the only thing
I wrote on the answer sheet, my
service number, it wasn’t even a prime number. ‘Go learn Maths and come
back again’, venerable W/C (Later Air
MShl) Philip Sir counselled. He was even kind to take me to the library, and
loan me about 25 volumes of Abbot’s
‘Teach Yourself Maths Ram’.

While lugging 50 kg of Maths Ram, I missed my father for the
first time. He had facilitated seedlings of independent India with only 5
volumes of his Maths Ram, and here I was lugging 25 volumes of Abbot Ki Voh. My
Dad’s ghost was nowhere around to consult with, and Kutub Shahi was allergic to
the curvaceous Cos Theta.

My wife helped teach me count backwards and forwards using
Naya Paisa instead of abacus. She went on to teach me multiplication tables
too, ‘Do
Bata Do, Panch’. Soon she became PhD and I remained King of Zero. It
took me about 6 months to become a Maths Ram, befriend Pythagoras, Calculus and
Arithmatix and Mathematrix, even the
curvaceous Cos Theta. Yes, I also converted my service number to a prime
number. To cut a long story short, I passed the Maths Ram test, by the
skin on my teeth. Immediately Philip
Sir told me to go learn French, which
was worse than Maths Ram. Learnt that too, in Alliance Francaise B’lore.

And that is how I became an ETP from EPNER in France, a Maths
Ram using the same logic of ‘Bolivian Algebra’.

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