No matter what, but every kid can hear and distinguish his father’s vehicle from light years away; a feat that seems impossible by rules of physics. As a kid, I could hear my Dad’s old Bajaj scooter from a distance of about two blocks, and that marked the end of street cricket time, and start of Mathematics.
Always, the idea was to run inside the house before he saw me playing, Sometimes, in a hurry, I would run inside house leaving my cricket bat in street and then my Dad would come in and he would ask, “Why are those kids in street, playing with your bat?”
“Oh! Those are poor kids. Mom told me to help the poor. So I gave it to them.”
“Are you stupid? Father of that pigeon nosed guy is a doctor. He earns more than me and most of his earnings come from your recurrent injuries. Anyways, open chapter8, exercise 2….”
My father still thinks that my friend P. ‘s nose looks like that of a pigeon. I have never been able to see a pigeon up so close, so I still don’t doubt his ornithological analogy.
Also, like many of us, I have always believed that my dad is a genius. You know, he can give you the most difficult question of any Mathematics book, even without flipping its pages.
Question 2 would be a quadratic equation with easier roots. But he would always ask me to do question 5 part b (which required answer to part a, obviously), that would be quadratic equation with complex roots (where you have that iota involved). He always knew which question I would not be able to do and then he would take all sadistic pleasure in watching me put all signs in equation as negative first and then make the alternate ones positive. Needless to say, the technique never helped.
Years later when I was learning trigonometry, he would never ask me calculate height of pole, but that of a mountain and to make it more realistic he would make picture of a mountain range, fill in some values for distances and angles and ask me to make a coarse contour map for that area. And I always wondered what sin did I do to deserve such questions. R., C. and K. never had to do such stuff at home; they just calculated height of pole or length of shadow cast by pole.
Later, I avoided going with him to bookstore as he would pick any Mathematics book, combine two questions into one and pull out a sheet of paper from his pocket and hand it to me to solve. His questions were always unique, like while traveling on a boat traveling at x km/h, you fell off, and start swimming towards the shore at y km/h . But don’t forget that river is glacial and still on the down slope with an angle of 30 degrees to the sea level……and an alien is landing on the shore with with z kmph…..will you be able to shake hands with him as soon as he lands?
I never knew what the answer was but if an alien is landing, I would not like to go towards that shore. Secondly I had no clue where to start, but only answer was I was going to die as I did not know how to swim. Thirdly, I never really realized how he managed to get a sheet of paper in his pocket every time he saw a difficult question.
Even today, I fear discussing my work about neurons with him as I am pretty sure that I would be stranded with a sheet of paper and a question like, “You have x number of neurons in your brain and suddenly somebody starts injecting liquid nitrogen at rate of y ml/ min in your brain and you plan to stop that injector switch, each muscle twitch requires z number of neurons…… Will you be able to switch it off before your entire brain cells freeze?