I finally finished my exams on Friday. The external examiner arrived at three o'clock in the afternoon; rumours said he was convalescing from a sunstroke or a bout of malaria(!), and the heat obviously didn't do anything towards improving his spirits. So he came in, surly and bad-tempered, determined to make students grovel at his feet and protest their innocence when he asked questions like, "How on earth did you get recruited?"
The examiner wasn't happy with any of the answers we gave him, even though they were on the correct lines. I won't say they were absolutely right, because we might have missed out on a few of the finer points. Granted, most of the time we do invent answers, but this time we knew what we were talking about; the answers we gave weren't so haphazard that he couldn't accept them at all. When he asked five of us the same question, and wasn't happy when the first of us answered correctly, we resorted to various combinations of the same words (with one or two technical-sounding additions) to attempt to produce a sentence that would produce the slightest affirmative nod. No good. However, I believe in the natural goodness of people, and I am prepared to give even this person the benefit of doubt. Something really must have soured his temper.
What is it the heat does to kill imagination and creativity? Not a single idea has popped into my head of late, and I have been waiting really long for some kind of event to occur to give me something to write about, and even now I can find nothing better than my exam to talk about. Unless you're interested in the fact that I went shopping yesterday, and spent about twenty long minutes picking up clothes. I actually took five minutes to choose, my mum spent the rest of the fifteen minutes looking for alternatives to what I'd picked. Finally, though, a consensus was reached, and we came home happy.
One good thing about vacations is that I can read as much as I like. But because it's summertime, more often than not, I fall asleep while reading during the afternoons. Even so, I have a good amount of time in which to read. So, for the past few days, when I wasn't plodding through the program printouts in my record, I was immersed in a rousing Nazi-Jew battle in a ghetto in Warsaw. It is incredible how the Nazis could resort to such cold-blooded extermination of a race of people, their hatred of the Jews baseless and unreasonable. Mila 18 is a fabulous book. This is my third Leon Uris book. The first one was Exodus, a magnificent story about the creation of Israel and the hardships of the Jewish people. The Angry Hills, my second Uris book, was set in Greece, and I don't really remember much about it, except that it featured a man on the run. It was more like a Robert Ludlum novel. I enjoy reading Uris more than Ludlum. While their books are all about war, Ludlum seems a little impersonal to me, whereas Uris appears to delve more into the suffering of the common man during battle, and his main characters are modelled on common men and women, but of extraordinary courage, who come out to help their people. Each author has a different story to tell, though, and both Ludlum and Uris looked at war from their own individual perspective, one talking about the men behind the war, the other about the people suffering due to the irresponsible actions of these men.
It is easy to express sympathy in words for something that we hear of but never have to go through. Does that mean a person is heartless if he is unable to make politically correct statements about being sorry about the loss of lives in a natural disaster? What merit do empty words of sympathy hold anyway, when they are only published in a newspaper or mentioned on a news bulletin, and don't even reach the people they are intended for?
Reading about homeless people starving to death in the ghettos, depending on soup kitchens for their only nourishment, reminded me of a picture of a boy feeding his younger brother in a shelter in Myanmar. While the people were reeling from the after-effects of Cyclone Nargis, speculation was on about which agencies' help the Myanmar junta would accept. It is a pity that even in pressing situations, politics comes into play and takes precedence over relief measures.
What an irony, then, that we are hoping for rain here, while a whole country nearby is worrying about the death and the destruction caused by storms. There was a slight drizzle here last evening. It lasted about five minutes. A greyish-white cloud floated up from nowhere and burst overhead. But all the drizzle did was to unleash the heat vapours locked in the dry earth; the breeze that, a little while earlier, had stirred the drooping leaves to life, died down, and the evening only got hotter. The only pleasant thing that came out of it was the subtle fragrance of damp earth. It seems like a long wait to the monsoons, or the next depression over the Bay of Bengal, whichever happens first.