One of my worst enemies during schooldays or should I say my arch-foe was a terrifying subject called Mathematics. From primary school level onwards I saw my maths teachers as nothing more than henchmen (and Henchwomen) of this villain. Mercifully when I was in primary and middle school kids o were kicked into the next class on the basis of total marks, even if you flunked in one subject. I scored reasonably well in general and social science and exceedingly well in languages (particularly English and Tamil} to escape into the next class. But Maths continued to haunt me like a vile evil spirit. Whenever I ran into my maths teachers they either gave me a mocking smile or glared at me murderously. Luckily for me, none of my maths teachers had homicidal tendencies But after the first few years in the school system struggling to work out what two plus two was I decided to turn a new leaf and decided to_ turn a new leaf and pay more attention to the third of the three Rs. But fate had cruel plans in store for me. The wise people in the National Council of Educational Research (NCERT) one fine day decided to give the maths syllabus and they scored a direct hit on me. So one fine day, my then maths teacher, who looked like a paunchy Bond villain. stood in front of me with a ruler in his hand and asked what appeared to be a silly question initially: Balajee. what is two plus two?" "Four " I replied unhesitatingly. ( I had learnt that much of maths by then). "Why?" "Huh?" "WHY IS TWO PLUS TWO FOUR AND NOT THREE OR FIVE?" If I had any doubts that maths teachers were nutty as a fruitcake, they vanished at that moment. " SHOW ME YOUR KNUCKLES BOY!!!" the villain whose sinister appearance was enhanced by two open buttons on the top of his shirt that revealed a hairy chest a d a gold chain with tiger claws (Now you know why tigers are an endangered species) yelled at me. The ruler came down heavily on the knuckles of both my hands as he yelled "LAW OF ADDITION!" i then remembered that it was no longer ye olde mathematics but MODERN MATHS. Here everything had a law --addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Maths textbook authors became lawmakers and teachers law enforcers. I struggled to make both ends (of a circle) meet in maths class. Theorems were a real headache. You not only have to know that the square of a hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides in a right angle triangle but PROVE it. Again the cursed question WHY in an unholy alliance with HOW. I heaved a sigh of relief when I left school and maths. Later I learnt that Pythagoras was not just a mathematician but a religious philosopher who believed in the transmigration of souls according to their Karma. He believed that knowledge of geometry could goa long way in breaking the karmic cycle and the soul will end up in a place that looked like a luxury resort where everything was free.(Mercifully the souls didn't go to the abode of Greek gods Mt.Olympus which was a horrible place with gods doing more politics than modern netas and trying to pull the rug from under each other's feet) If Pythagoras was right then I have very little chance of entering his resort, thanks to educational policymakers, for while I remembered Pythagoras theorem, the WHY and HOW escaped me. Hope the school kids fare better now. But I suspect the NCERT will not let go of their favourite instrument of torture. For all you know, they might have come up with something called postmodern maths. There's no trusting these guys.