7 8's are?..

56, I hear myself say..tears welling in my eyes, trying to control the sharp pain of the ear being boxed simultaneously by my mother. She was aware of my particular struggle with this one. I used to say 42 every time.

This was the usual routine before every math exam as she used to send me on my way. She would be waiting at the end of the alleyway waiting for me to turn the corner of the street, to see the expression on my face, trying to read me, to guess how my math exam had gone for me. If I smiled and nodded my head, all was good, which was more often than not!

My love of math was due to the presence of a formidable persona, all were intimidating for a 10 year old, who would walk into the classroom purposefully, fingers smeared with chalk from the previous class, chalk dust on her hair and clothes, tongue red with betel leaf, two front teeth showing a bit through the lips, hair tightly combed back in a no-nonsense way, and her ever so grating voice stridently saying “Eeiy” bringing the class to its knees and complete silence.

She would proceed to write down numbers and signs, drawing us to a world different, the equal signs forming a neat pattern one below the other, the geometric shapes drawn and redrawn overs in the explanation of a theorem, the x’s and y’s vigorously balanced in trigonometrical equations and repeated time and again with the occasional directed projectile in the form of a broken piece of chalk finding its intended target till that time, in a moment of revelation, the concept miraculously appeared amidst the cloud of doubt.

If we knew the concept of a hi-five in my days, this would have been the moment to use one.

That initial love of math, took me through time and till date the liking to numbers stays close to heart and manifests itself in resolving sudoku, kakuro, 2048 and any logical numbered game.

I may have failed in passing this love of mine to my sons who were more inclined to my creative side, but the love of math was solely due to to two people in my life, my mother and Ratna teacher with the high school influence of Hariharan Sir.

Pythagoras would have been suitably impressed!!