Complex Lullabies

Looking back on school makes you wonder how many of the things they’d told you  about it were really true. It seems to me like a lot of times, myths seem to get away with their trashtalk just because in between hearing them and living your school life out, you don’t really get much time to think about them. (No, the time you spent whining about them doesn’t count.) You hear them, get busy living a completely different life, and then realise one day well past graduation that certain high school stereotypes were, well, unproven myths.

Heck, either that, or I was just a science student. That’s my one label to hide behind and blame for everything including something as trivial and unsuspecting as “My tea tastes poisoned” (long story for a day you’re up for some physics).

I digress here, but chemistry is all about the exceptions. Us failed chemical sugar bombs are no exception [or wait… would that then be ‘we are exceptions’?  Aargh, language conventions! Don’t tell my English teacher. I bribe you with a picture of the structure of meth.

Image result for structure of Methamphetamine
C10H15N

Us science kids were sort of exceptions to the high school stereotype. You thought the nerds, the jocks, the queens and the means were what you’d find in a typical grade 12 classroom? You’re wrong—we only have zombie versions of these.

 

The only stereotype that did fit us well was the absentee one. On the plus side, an empty class is a quiet one (well, relatively). On the flip side, it kind of defeated the purpose of school and had me carrying a 300-page Iron Man survey notebook for nothing… but apart from the last bit, those were teachers’ opinions, what zombie am I to judge?
PS: We didn’t have absentees though. Only zombie-absentees. We’ll let them loose on the city this Halloween… by which time, the first semester of college would have kicked in and they’ll be powerful zombies in the truest sense. Get out your cameras, filmmakers! The Rise And Pillowfall Of The Zombies will be premiering live (how ironic) this fall. Coming to a school near you. Mwahahahahahahaa!
Spoiler: This is the climax of the movie.

But yep, one high school legend that’s a truth is that high school will turn you into a sleepwalking insomniac. (Yes, that is a thing.)
I don’t know if it’s possible to catch up on four years’ worth of sleep, but my little sister, only just beginning high school, is already showing insomniac tendencies. It’s going to be a long four years.
[In other news, I am absolutely shattered that insomniacal is not a word. What happened to building a varied and diverse dictionary? They really are squeezing multiple meanings (as a noun and as an adjective) out of a single word… it’s ‘1984’ all over again!]

Anyway, I was talking to her about her math last night. She’d spent a few hours on some last-minute English homework she’d remembered. No one remembers English homework until it’s real late. It’s 1 AM. She’s due up at 6. But she’s a school-zombie. Not a very graduated one, I’ll grant her that; 3 AM was my timezone, and 2 AM was thermodynamics’, but she’s owning 1 too. On a random whim, I tell her what math lies in store for her. Circles, proofs, volumes, ‘angles in semicircles are always right’ (by which I meant 90° of course, not correct. But if you’d rather try that reasoning in your proof, I won’t stop you. It’s your bragging rights.), complex numbers, the redefinition of the ‘imaginary’.

“Mmmhm.”

I began to tell her about the trigonometry that followed up in two years, a personal favourite of every emotionally shattered high school kid… second only to calculus.  I started talking about the fifty or so formulae you’d be buffeted by in nothing but your underwear. There also really are fifty, I kid you not.

The next scene is straight out of the Saturday morning cartoons, but I hear a snot-filled snore. Our neo-high school zombie-borderline insomniac is asleep in a record five minutes.

Hey, it could be the English homework or the weird human thing you date for all your student life called ‘exhaustion’, but I’m selfish, so I’ll pawn off all the credit.

Following that, out of sheer perverse habit like the true student-zombie I’ve become, I sat in torchlight and drafted this post till 2.

The Private Musings of an Excited Electron

In a few days, we have an official burden-release. Our school will formally dump us on our butts. (not really…)

We have our farewell, our final send-off, and then we grind our noses for a month and then head off on our own paths. It seems so much like a prism at play here: at school, you are a uniform beam of white light and everyone is the same, travelling down the air path, until you reach the final frontier, the glass barrier (or glass ceiling, if you’d see it that way), and cross over into a different, denser glass medium. There’s confusion, change of direction, slowing down — it’s the transition phase.

Once you reach the other face of the glass prism, you’re crossing again (the Official Dump, by the way), you’re leaving your glass cocoon, school, and stepping out into the faster, rarer air medium of the real world. Better pick up the pace.
White light passed through a prism emerges to split into its spectrum, as we all find our own wavelengths and split up into a diverse, varied, colourful spectrum and go our own separate ways. Where would this experiment be without a screen to capture the spectrum, to write the legacy for every eye to behold?

And that;s where we are right now. Still in the prism, going through our own little transitions, and at the threshold of emergence.
And yes, we are all a little refracted and deviated! (*aherm*, YouTube, *aherm*…)

One thing I’ve noticed though, is that the idea of Farewell, aka Dumping Ceremony (kidding), has somehow become interchangeable with the idea of Prom, which we don’t have.
A substitute, perhaps? It must be the formal dress code. “What are you wearing?” has become a frequently heard question — we’re turning into the Hollywood Press!
Red carpet, here we come!

Of course, if it really was Prom, I’d probably be playing Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself all night and/or prepare to begin a charity bandage donation the next day for all the feet I’d have stepped on.
And it may sound absurd, but we’re taking a date to Farewell. Farewell! Of course, only from the leaving batch, but still, pop culture has gotten to us!
(The last farewell I remember, we’d all huddled around a hole in the terrace and channelized our ‘negative spiritual energies’ down it, and then had our teachers pray for our Board exams. You could tell from the look on their faces that the prayer was for real!
Imagine doing that with a date. And in a formal dress. Phew!)

But heck, life doesn’t need justification, and we played along. If we don’t have Prom, we’ll make it happen, I suppose!
Just for fun, I’d asked a really good friend of mine, and she said yes!
This was a few months ago, though, and I figured she’d forgotten… we all have electrons swimming in our brains these days, and I cannot explain why I overuse the word electron.

Today, after—guess what?—a physics paper, I happened to run into her and we sat down awhile and talked. Most of the school had probably emptied out; mum says I stay on till way too late, but in my defence, I won’t ever hang around a school again after a few months.
But thank goodness for the quiet moment, sometimes I cannot hear myself speak.

We began talking about Farewell-Prom, and how people were obsessing over what to wear (everything from a sari to boxers, most people had talked to me about it before). We began taking about people taking dates to farewell, no, not the edible kind.
Amidst all the hype, she asked me if I was going. I replied, probably. She told me I could hang out with her.
I remembered then that I’d asked her out. (We’re all tube lights with electrons flowing through..) She said, “Ah, yeah! Well, I’d have asked you if you hadn’t, anyway.”

That’s it. That just about made my day. Rainbows be damned, bring on the Prom. Mum’s even probably alright with me wearing a tux, which is a first (big IF I can get my hands on one in two days. I don’t own one.)

…One sec, wasn’t it a Farewell?