About Me

18.1.12

JNU blues

          How little does one know of the imminent next moment. What's new in that, you may ask, but it was only yesterday that I was hit full in the face by this particular question. Having thought about it a hundred times(on varying occasions , mind you), it rendered itself eligible for careful consideration and explication. What triggered it off now? Well let's say a question in an exam paper at a tense moment in my life.

          Having completed graduation in English from the "ever so reputed" B.P.C College, I had all the time in the world to go through various institutions that I considered befitting a person of my calibere to pursue higher studies at. It shortly dawned on me that nothing less than the likes of JNU would be good and immediately set off to register for the earliest entrance exams scheduled by the University. Intend on qualifying the exams , I started studying intensely well before the exams commenced (read , 3 days).

          Came down to Trivandrum, all alone , expecting to book my ticket for New Delhi, soon after the exams. Oh! come on. I am bound to clear the entrance. The exam day was pretty much as usual as the other days with the exception that , 3 long hours had been wasted with me staring at a list of questions on a musty off white sheet of paper. Ironically the questions were easy to answer and I should confess having written more to an answer than the examiner would expect. Then surely the only thing to be evaluated was it's relevancy. As soon as I got out of the exam hall, I was sure of one thing. Delhi remained a distant dream. My reason: if the exam was easy for an average guy like me, everybody who took the exam might have fared in a similar manner. The success percentage, then would solely be determined by the in depth knowledge and vivacity a candidate was able to concoct with the perfect language he used to answer the relatively simple questions. In short I had failed, even before the answer sheets reached Delhi.

          Now this incident came back in all its moribund glory, the other day, I was going through Unni's XIIth Std. CBSE English text book. The last chapter included was titled "Aunt Jennifer' Tigers" by  Adrienne Rich.  I did not have to go through the entire poem  to realise where else I had seen the work. But then , only the short poem devoid of its heading or the author's name was in front of me. It was this same poem in Unni's text book, that was printed on the JNU entrance exam question paper followed by a series of comprehension questions. May be the poem was a famous work, but I never knew. I cursed all the benign stars. If only had I learned the poem as part of my syllabus back in 2006. It is not that having no prior knowledge of the poem hindered my answering the questions, it is just that I would have had an edge over the others , if I had learned it from a knowledgeable teacher. But then again, so would have many other CBSE products.

          Well my point is, never in my sane sense had I thought of coming across the poem , without me having gone in search of it and still there it was, mocking me from the pages of a musty old book ornately decorated with Unni's study time musings. All of you might have had similar experiences, well I just found myself in one.

For those of you who want to have a peek of the culprit who made my day, here it is:

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers by Adrienne Rich
Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

Aunt Jennifer's fingers fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.