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Annual report

By Nickunj Malik - Dec 26,2018 - Last updated at Dec 26,2018

I do not know how it is these days, but during my time, no student really liked being handed the annual report card at school— that official looking folder, you know, which communicated a pupil’s academic performance for the year. 

There was no joy in being told, especially by a stern looking bespectacled nun that one’s work was substandard and one could do better by putting one’s heart into it. 

How exactly to put your heart into solving unsolvable mathematical calculations, was never explained. It was just assumed that by rigorous practice and by repeated trial and error, one would somehow grasp the basics of Sine, Cosine, Tangent and Theta of trigonometry.

But, many of us never did manage that, and ended up avoiding anything involving arithmetic — for the rest of our lives. 

Childhood traumas take a long time to heal. I had a friend in South Africa who ran a successful restaurant business because he failed his 10th exam at school. Even after a span of three decades, he recounted the incident to me as if it had happened yesterday. 

Math was his weak subject, he said, so he had slogged doubly hard for it during his board examinations. He thought that he had done pretty well in the test, so when the results were to be announced he dressed in his favourite white shirt and trousers, and waited at the entrance of his house for his father to get the report card at home 

When his Dad got out of the car, my friend rushed towards him, hoping he would get a congratulatory hug, but as he got closer, his father swung around and gave him a tight slap! 

In those days, it was not illegal to smack your kids if they did badly at school, and my friend had failed miserably. 

He walked out of the house immediately following that event, asked around and got a job as a waiter in a coffee shop, and subsequently worked his way up to become one of the wealthiest restaurateurs on the continent. 

Meanwhile, my personal annual report, documenting the year I have spent on Paradise Island in Mauritius is rather sketchy. I have succeeded in putting my house in order (took two months), clearing my car at customs (ten months), planting a flowery bush by the desolate front porch (took five months) and hanging the paintings and pictures on the appropriate walls (several months). 

What I have been completely unsuccessful in doing is figuring out the predictions of the weather-people, especially when he or she forecasts a cyclone. 

Cyclones are a regular feature here. Berguitta visited us in January while Alcide, Bouchra, Kenanga and Cilida made their presence felt during the next few months. 

In fact, Cyclone Cilida was supposed to cause severe devastation this weekend, with the metrological department raising the cyclone to a class 3. 

Accordingly, on Sunday I secured the doors and windows, kept a lot of candles handy, stored drinking water, followed the cyclone bulletins on TV and waited. Nothing happened!

“The sun’s shining brightly,” my husband announced.

“Must be the calm before the storm,” I told him. 

“It has stopped raining too,” he continued. 

I picked up my diary. 

“What are you doing?” he asked. 

“Making an annual report,” I mumbled. 

“What does it say?” asked my spouse. 

“Next year, whatever you plan,” I scribbled. 

“Never trust a weather man,” I read out. 

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