Sunday, December 17

The Mistaken Identities

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                                         The mistaken identities

            Have you ever been  mistaken for someone else?  Does your face  resemble another person’s?  No ?  Then  you are a lucky human being indeed. I have been unlucky in this regard. At times I had  wondered  if God had created  too many persons with the  same design specifications as mine.

            At school, there was one boy who looked quite like me, of the same size , build, height and age.  We were however in different sections. The Maths master who taught for both  sections, always called me by the wrong name and  once  also scolded me for poor marks. Whereas I had been scoring 100% in every test. It was only when the class monitor  enlightened him  that Rajsekar and I looked alike but we were not even related remotely that the Mathematics teacher  began to spot out the differences between us.

          Was I happy  to get rid of Rajsekar at last when I finished school.  But alas! One Swamy landed up in  college with my face to throw everyone into confusion.. Swamy could have easily passed off as my twin brother. Once I had a terrible time  convincing the Principal that it was K.Swamy  who dropped two beakers in the Chemistry laboratory and not me.  Luckily,  K.Swamy owned up the damage  and I was spared from paying the fine.

         After college . I joined the Army.  My trouble dogged me at the Indian Military Academy  as well.  One Sen from West Bengal happened to be my double there.  But instead of crying over  the resemblance, we decided to play pranks with it  by exchanging places and roles when it suited us especially when we wanted to fool some smart Alecs or attending the punishment sessions at night time.  It was a relief when we finished training and became officers in different branches of the Army,  Our paths never crossed thereafter.

         But I had to disappoint a number of  my co-travellers and by standers during my visits to the South. “Sorry, I am not Subramaniam,” I said to a man who approached me with a broad smile. ”But you look very much like Subby,You have a typical South Indian face, you know?” he commented, shrugged and walked off with a sunken face.

         Then one day  I went through a mistaken incident of a different kind altogether.  It happened at a social arty. I was 25 then and a young Captain.  I found myself in the company of a grand old man and an young lady of 20 or so.  I had introduced myself to her some 15 minutes earler in some other group.  “Hi.  So, you are here again?” I greeted her  and wished the old man with a warm  hand shake. For some unknown reason, the senior man took a dislike for me. He would look at me with venom in his eyes whenever I disagreed with the young thing over some point. The maiden too would oppose me, often, just for the heck of it.  Whether I was right or the lady was, didn’t seem to matter to the grandpa at all.

         A stage came when he physically stepped aside by at least two feet, stood shoulder  to shoulder with the young lady like he was giving her all his moral support.  He refused to look at me.  Obviously  he was  at war with me for no rhyme or reason.

         As the party gave over and all the guests were dispersing, the old man came over, touched me and said, “Listen son, it’s not good to clash with your wife on every issue….”

          I was taken aback completely.  “She, my wife …?   Excuse me Sir, you are mistaken.  She isn’t … she isn’t …..”

          He wouldn’t listen and waved me off with a strong flourish of hand.  As he was walking out, I heard him say, “No explanations from an overbearing husband..”  When he was at the exist door,, he raised his voice and conveyed, “That’s  the key to a happy  married life.  That’s the key  …”

           Years later, after I retired from the Army I took to full time free lance writing.  Not using pseudonym has its own drawback.  On seeing my name on the reservation list, a fan of mine apparently, walked into my compartment and asked if I was the same guy  who wrote in so and so newspapers and so and so magazines.

           “Yes,’ I replied.

           After shaking my hands gustily, he started sizing me up and down curiously.  “Are you sure..?” he asked knitting his eye brows in disbelief.

          “Of course,   I am  very much Jayakaran.”

          “But how come.?  I pictured you to be an young man  below 30 going by  the romantic words you use  and the exotic situations you create in your stories… but, you,  you  are a grandfather, I see.?’

          “Sure, I am a grandfather.  I have six grand children, you know?”

          He shook his head half a dozen times  not believing his own eyes. Then struck by some brainwave he said, “You must have been a real Don Juan in  your younger days, I am sure !”

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