Minus 20

‘Appa, What is minus 20 ?’ asked Bharat.

‘Well it could be a number. Like it could be the temperature in say Denver in the USA’, I say.

‘No Appa, Amma says somebody got minus 20. So what is that?’

I am, as usual, confused. Why on earth should someone get minus 20 ?

‘Is it the IIT exam?’ I ask the wife, his Amma thinking about the marks that somebody would have got
in the entrance exams to the technical institutes in India ( hushed tones – yes, my marks ).

‘No, not that. He is asking about something in the TV’ she says.

It was the election news and apparently Bharat was talking about the Congress’ score in Delhi.

Realizing what it was all about, I say,’Bharat, it is the score, like cricket score,like marks’.

‘But who got it ? And how can one get a mark in minus?’He was indeed puzzled.

‘See,let us say you got 80 marks in Maths last month’.

‘No Appa, I got 100 last month’, he protested. He is particular about his marks.

‘Ok, you got 100 last month. And if you get 80 this month, you get a minus twenty, right?’

‘No, you are wrong’, he says, ‘I got 100 this month also’.

Damn his marks. But I continue, ‘let us consider your friend Pradeep got this 100 last month and 80 this month’.

‘Appa, you are wrong even now. Pradeep did not write his exams this month. So how will he get 80?’

Logical question though. I give up and ask him the following :

‘Who got 100 last month and 80 this month in your class?’

‘Hmmm..’, pondering for a while, he says,’ Rahul got that’. This was Rahul Gupta of Class III.

‘Ok. So Rahul got twenty less than last time, right ?’

He agrees.

‘In the same way, there is another Rahul in Delhi. Last month he got 100 and this month he got 80. And so he got minus 20’.

I am extremely happy that I have overcome a major issue.

Bharat still looks confused.

‘So, Appa, is Rahul that you are talking about, is he studying in Class III?’

That ofcourse I do not know.

‘So what is he studying, this Rahul from Delhi?’asks Bharat. I keep quiet.

I think that the interview is over. But Bharat continues further.

‘Appa, If Rahul does so badly at school does his mother not scold him ?’

Some questions are diffiult to answer. How do I explain that his mother is as erudite as Rahul is and
so her score is even poorer than her sons’ ?

Please help me out.

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