There are all kinds of numbers in our life and not all are Natural. Some are Odd, some are used to getting Even. Some we do not want to divide like a cheese pizza between five, others we wish would subtract themselves on their own from around our girth. But some numbers feel more Prime than others. They feel special. Dates or times, calls or discounts – we all have a little number book in our heads, The Anthology of Celebratory Numbers. I do.
A double-digit maths score from school (I passed?) or a three digit electricity bill (thanks AAP). High score in Mario Bros (always!) or shoes inside new shoe boxes (to the power zero). Certain numbers come to occupy a certain place in our minds, even hearts sometimes. They may be forgotten the next day or remain etched in permanent ink in that anthology I talk about. But numbers, like our ages, are always on an onward march in their own sweet ways. It’s March, and I talk of some such digits.
Say for instance 22. Two little ducks 22, says the man announcing the house in Bingo. Why the number becomes significant for me? After 22 years of teaching, my mother decided to hang her boots. Over 2 decades of spending 1/3rd of each day going to the same school to teach her children, and be taught in return, she put in her papers. She says it was instinctual. She was not tired but other things suddenly seemed to seek her attention more. She wanted to swim freestyle now in her pool of life. She made her decision on her own. But the storm in her mind continues. That angel-devil marriage that says “right thing done-wrong thing done”. It’s done, but she keeps repeating it to me ‘22 years is a really long time.’ I know how long it is numerically but I will not know how long a time it is in this passionate teacher’s mind. The only certainty is that on the 14th of March she will be given a grand farewell by a school which taught her brothers, her husband, her children, and now her nieces and nephews too. By teachers like herself! (Yes, we are unfurling the school flag on our roof top soon, maybe on the 14th of this March itself!)
14 too is a special number actually, called ‘school leaving time’ by the Bingo man (must tell mummy about the coincidence). It is a permanent favourite in my Anthology. 14th March is when my son was born (after 14 hours of labour, but that’s just a gory irrelevant coincidental detail no more). Which means, the day my mother retires, my son turns 3. Naturally, 14 becomes special to me. Double reason to celebrate it now, save up on an extra cake, and calories too. Clutching a cliché, time flew at mother fussing mach speed as 1 turned 2 to turn 3. Magically, as if! Very few special dates transform whole months to red velvet strawberry cheese cakes – smooth and delicious, like your child's birth date does. (We can cut a strawberry cake that day, why not! I can never eat just 1 slice.)
1 reminds me of those dreadful computer classes from school time. Binary was the name of a language (and you thought it was only that video game with an overgrown pac man eating balls?) and it worked with 1s and 0s. Dreadful, but I repeat myself. Those combinations of 1s and 0s made knots in my mind and earned me crosses in my report card. Only, March ’14 brought to my blog a combination I had never seen for myself, not even in the bank, I swear. 100,000 page views. Such a long number, like two trains put together with an engine combined. I still start counting backwards when I see big numbers to make myself sure (remember at the start, my Maths was bad?) – unit, tens, hundreds, thousand, ten thousand, lakh lakh vadaiyaan. My blog was viewed so many number of times. A round figure number and a fleeting favourite I froze before I refreshed the page. Before it turned to just another number in the series, albeit higher. See it in the picture?
This March brings me some really special numbers. Like a water-colour painting of a sunny sky. Tinged in different shades of bright and happy yellow, and a little blue too.
Do you too have some memorable ones circled in red ink, scribbled in that book I call The Anthology of Celebratory Numbers? Hiding in your head or maybe tucked deep inside your heart?
You know some of mine, the numbers this March.