The story nears an end. Alok and Hari find jobs while Ryan is still an unemployed Indian citizen. They flock at Sasi’s. Retrospection is the mood of the wind.
“Ryan, we got screwed man. What did we do these four years?” Alok said in despair. A drop of sweat was tripping off his fore head onto the table. It was balancing itself on an end of the curvature of his eyebrow which was raised by a centi meter generating ridges over his fore head that looked like lines in a notebook in which I learnt to write cursive. The reds and blues were not there. They would have looked ugly on his face. “There was so much that lay before us a couple of years ago. Why did we choose this way? Why did we end up something like this?”
“Screw it! The argument takes us no where.” I said. I said it out of a discomfort his questions caused to me. Some hurting conscious that told me things could have been different if not better, had I thought a little differently about them. I was tempted into guessing the end points of all those alternate paths, evaluating them by their returns and ranking the path I have selected. “Let us get to the parathas. The butter melts fast in summers creating a pool on them quickly.” I said, as though it was the only thing on my mind.
“No Hari. Fatso is right. It is time to retrospect. What he asks is sense dude. Let us look into it this way.” Ryan got started. My intervention dint rescue the conversation from tipping of the edge of a mountain on which it carefully sustained into a valley of unending enigma which gets worse every time we invest into such conversations. The parathas seemed to be the only rescue to me now. The silent spectator in me took over.
“We rewind the play to fatso’s tenth class” Ryan says noticing my inattention. This guy wants every one with him. “Fatso mugs physics, mathematics and chemistry”
“We also had Biology in our tenth” Now this has to be from Alok!
“Yeah fatso. Okay. Physics, Chemistry, Biology and mathematics. But the point is that fatso doesn’t really enjoy doing all that he is doing. But his friends and parents tell him it is a crucial year and results of the boards determine his future. So, he looks at it like a problem which has to be cracked.”
“Yeah Ryan. But what the hell are you getting to?”
“Listen on. Then fatso gets great marks in his boards…”
“Yeah a ninety four” Alok announces proudly. He looks around with a brief smile.
“Okay a ninety four, and he thinks his problem is solved. But then the twelfth class boards. And the story repeats. That just means the solution fatso thought he had attained was a mirage and the problem still existed. Right?”
“Yeah. So?” The statements Ryan needed for continuing his saga were getting briefer from me. The parathas engaged my jaws better and deserved higher priority.
“So, fatso was deceived. But he pulled himself into it again and did the same slogging again, believing that after the IIT – JEE, the miracle would actually happen. This time the solution he applied to the problem would actually solve it once and for all.”
There was silence now. It was a brief pause in which Ryan waited for an acknowledgement, but chose to go ahead when he got none.
“But the problem was not solved this time either. This increased his frustration. He was deceived every time he tried to solve it. So instead, in his engineering he chose not to solve it. He chose to leave it as a problem. And fatso ends up here being a five point someone.”
“We all know that Ryan. There was no need for a rewind replay action here.” I knew Ryan had more to say, and displays of my frustration pushed him towards the end faster. My indifference was a veiled form of my curiosity.
“But nothing really went wrong with what fatso did in his engineering. It was just a consequence of what fatso thought and did earlier. It was a result of his ignorance of the fact that the problem was in an ever appearing infinity loop.” Ryan had this excellent way of exemplifying things and fatso was the victim.
“ It all started when fatso thought in his tenth class that a problem appeared and it had to be solved.”
“Ofcourse Ryan! Now you don’t tell us that problems need not be solved.” That was me!
“Yeah! Here you get it from me now Hari! I don’t say problems need not be solved. They should. Rather, they must. But they must be solved such that the solution used works every time the problem arises, and infact gets better every time it is run on a problem.”
“What?” I say. I indefinitely pause on my chewing while I say it. The conversation sucks me into it.
“You get it right. Solutions we seek should be of the nature that can be run over problems that keep coming up in the future and should more importantly get better every time they are run” The repetition was for our understanding. We needed it. “Fatso looked for a solution which solved his problem for the tenth class boards. He slogged despite the fact that he hated it. The solution did work, but it worked only once. He tried the same solution again, but it dint get better this time, however it also did a fair work for his twelfth class. But the third time, in engineering, the evolutionary process eliminated the poor. His solution failed to evolve, so it died out.” Ryan said. So, here was Darwin resurrected in Ryan. “So, now you get it? Solutions have to be good and should evolve with the problems they solve. They cannot be the kind of static rigid patterns we seek. ”
Now that was Ryan. Anything from him had to be good. But I had to give a fight to the argument.
“Hold hold. So what do you think is a form of this evolving solution shit you are giving us?”
“Simple! Fatso should have understood that he could not hate studying. He had to find ways in which he could like it. If he did that back in his tenth class, he would have got better at doing it in his twelfth and finally, he would have got to be an expert at it now. He would have known what he likes and how he should like things he does. This solution evolves. This sustains the evolutionary requirements of the system, hence saves itself from elimination. Fatso could have been a nine pointer without the dissatisfaction that muggu Kumar holds.” Ryan finally concluded.
Fatso sacrificed on the parathas feast and listened. He was delighted at the possibility of having been a nine pointer. And Ryan, as usual, sounded fancy. Screw the nine point GPA attainability that Ryan displays but the insight was a valuable one. Plucked off its feathers, it looked to be like the first sensible one from Ryan. Infact, it was one which changed the entire viewpoint from which I looked at problems. Afterall solving problems is life and to find better ways to solve them means better living. Better living may mean being a happy Five Point Someone!