I forget how a Lamda looks like and neither do I want to look it up on the net. But I cannot forget our Lamda, Amitava, who had a crazy monkey kinda smile. Dunno if he was called Lamda because of his stretched smile or because he always studied Math, but he was our Lamda. I hated him. I hated him because he was always with a girl whom I fancied since I was in standard V. They were just friends, but I just couldn't stand the sight of him. Look at the privileged bugger who always gets to go meet her. They often studied together as I cycled up and down their street in frustration waiting for a glimpse. There were many times when I could see her standing in the garden, but could never muster enough courage to look her in the eye. Lamda had no such worries. He wasn't in love with her and could just walk up to her, give her a pat on the bum, and sit with their Math.
Bloody Math. Why do you think I hate Math so much?
April, 1989. It was time for our higher secondary exam and an unknown fear gripped me. I hadn't studied as much as I had cycled in front of her house. My legs were strong by then but not my Physics and Chemistry. I had, by then, decided that Math was not for me and had taken up Biology, a subject I quite liked. And there were no Lamdas in Biology. Neither did our Lamda like the subject much. I had to somehow manage to pass Physics and Chemistry, but I was clueless about how.
The first day when I saw my allotted seat in the exam hall, I almost fainted. Had it been in a movie, I surely would have. I was on the first bench, seated next to Hyder Ali, someone I didn't quite look up to as far as studies were concerned. Hyder, unlike his namesake, was no fierce fighter even. He was a mild, dumb guy, who studied hard but couldn't fathom anything. That kind of placed both of us on the same boat. Two people who knew virtually nothing about Physics and Chemistry, seated next to each other, as if by Providence, on the first bench.
The first exam was on Bengali language and literature and I fared pretty well, although by now I was certain I would fail in the main exam. The next day was our English exam. Again, not much of a problem. After four days of that, on the 10th of April, 1989, was the Physics exam. There were guys like me praying before entering the hall. And I did not have anybody to pray to and felt rather helpless. I prayed to Hyder "please, help me pass, boss" and he gave me a puzzled look. He had kind of accepted his fate. He wouldn't cheat or copy from someone else. He knew he would fail. And keep trying to pass every year. The blank look in his eyes compounded my fear because after the chapter on Vectors, I had stopped going to school. The exam commenced and I slid toward Hyder and copied everything from him blindly. I must have written his answers in correct English at the most. But that day is still hazy in my mind. Fear can cloud your memory, take it from me. And the fear of failing board exams is bigger than the fear of being shot dead by a Taliban terrorist. Believe me, it was nothing short of death.
And Lamda died that night. I mean, he went all the way to Burdwan (some 60 kms from where we stayed) and committed suicide by laying his head before an oncoming train. When they later discovered his body, his hands were placed calmly on his chest. He hadn't made a last-ditch attempt to clamber away from the track. And they also found his head on the other side of the track, his eyes closed and his face determined.
We had four days before the next exam and news of Amitava's death had spread among all the students. I heard that my crush had even cried for those four days and couldn't study. But somehow my hatred for Amitava had vanished and I couldn't refer to him as Lamda any more.
I don't remember how the rest of the exams got over. But the invigilators were lenient. They wouldn't mind if I copied from Hyder or Sujoy from the second row. They didn't want another boy to die.
I passed, thanks to Hyder. Hyder failed, like he knew he would. And Amitava passed his Physics exam with really good marks. I want to meet and tell him that he passed and that he can come back from wherever he is. But he chose to go really far away, I think.