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 !”