During my childhood, the honour of the most
hated subject by far would have gone to Mathematics. I might have stood
probably a hundred times in front of my father for learning the intricacies of
the subject, standing was essential to prevent the consequences of my stupid
muddled brain. With exams on the morrow, none of nocturnal visits had turned
out pleasant to me. A boxed ear and a red bum were the bare minimum results of
these necessary excursions. My father after a tiring days’ work, would have
preferred to have his piping hot tea in front of doordarshan rather than end up
as the tutor of the makeshift tuition. Mother forced these meet-ups on both of
us and thus my father had no choice but to become my examiner before the actual
exams. Given that, I did my own thing in the exams, I’m surprised how I usually
ended up doing it decently. Considered to be the decent bum in school, my repertoire
of curses and swear words were limited, thus mathematics managed to save itself
from my insistent assault on its roots.

A score of 40 out of 100 in mathematics during
my fourth grade brought out loud lamenting gasps from my parents. I had just
managed to scrape through and it was also probably the day, when their hidden
dreams of seeing me as a big bombing scientist ended. But, it was also a day of liberation for me,
since the dreamy stars were now absent in my parents eyes. I jumped around
carefree with joy. The red bum and the boxed ears still made their presence now
and then, but I was free now or rather I had a smaller chain of expectation
tied around me compared to the heavy clunking metal which I used to lug around
before this incident.

It took a beautiful geometry teacher to finally
pull me into the whirlpool of mathematics during high school. The classes were
now pleasant, the curses were gone. Soft brain petals started crashing on the
hard rock faces of mathematics. Asking intelligent doubts inside and after
class had become essential. Temporarily there was total malfunction and I
scored lesser in the following exams than what I would have normally scored by
mugging the whole set of sums. Before things started to take a nasty turn, the
teacher left and was promptly replaced by a dour grunting male. The soft brain petals chose to stay at home
and the hard rock faces were left unbothered for years together.

Pre-university was the phase wherein I had
mastered the art of solving problems blindly. My soft spoken mathematics tuition
tutor made his class solve a barrage of problems in his two hour class every
day. With such practise even the dumbest fellows get a hang of the subject and
so was the case with me. Every sub topic had a fixed set of different kinds of
problems, once I became aware of that fact, the going became easy. With such
coaching going on, I decided not to attend the college maths class completely. Our
college teacher, a giant of a fellow seeing his class dwindle down from 3
digits to single digits must have taken offence, after the exam results were
out, he caught me on a by-lane near my home. Being sure that I might have
flunked in mathematics, he took a very aggressive tone and started giving me
advice on the need to attend classes. He didn’t know that the ace was up my
sleeve. When I finally revealed it, he looked like a chicken caught under
headlights. Quickly he simmered down and went back to his previous mode and
demanded where I had lost the six marks (score was 94 out of 100), I rolled
over my eyes, probably he might have given Kejriwal a run for his money today.

Engineering finally started to bring out the
soft brain petals from their cosy spots. This time it was more of an internal
drive than an external stimulationJ.
Looking at signals and their behaviours through the eyes of mathematics
was probably my first aha moment in mathematics. The soft petals began their
painful journey from hard to soft. Endless hours in library to grapple simple
integration over the sine wave and what not and as expected, my score bombed in
that subject. Half of my time during that semester was spent on this subject. But,
more than the score, it was that momentary joy of having understood something
very intricate using mathematics, pulled me towards it. I tried to bring in my
intuitive interpretations to the equations, many times I failed but there were
few times where I really felt satisfied.

When I read technical papers and see a bunch of
equations, the first response is that of fleeing. The fight part of the brain
requires some time to wake up and override the flee response. The grind then begins. Many of these grinds
have shown how much an important role mathematics place in explaining phenomenon
that is hard to explain intuitively. Looking back, it feels funny that such an
important subject is taught in schools with so much apathy. Even the teachers
don’t seem to have an idea on the end goal of mathematics. Even now, probably
due to my long standing hatred, mathematics doesn’t sit easily inside my head.
It looks around as if it is an unwelcome guest, but I have now closed all the
doors tightly to make it stay there and give myself a better chance in wooing
it. It is too important a guest to let go and I hope one day it will feel at
home.

## 2 comments:

Atleast u gettin bashed up had some purpose :P.... I learned from ur mistakes :D ... between a nice read , bringin back some old memories too :)

thanks dude :-)

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