Thursday, September 08, 2011

DO YOU KNOW WHAT ZENZIZENZIZENZIC MEANS?

Thursday, September 08, 2011
With a piece of white chalk the boy wrote the letters N.O.Z.Z.L.E across the blackboard and then turned around to face the class. The teacher walked beside him and updated the scores. "It is a tie", she announced. By then, the group of students to his left had already started drumming a victory tattoo on the desks.
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These days if you ask me what my favourite word is, I would most likely say 'Vespertine'. Sometime ago it was 'Serene' and before that it was 'Demarche'. But these are just passing fads - pop protests compared to epic class struggles (excuse the rather topical analogy). The fact is that I have a perennial affinity towards words starting with the last letter of the alphabet. From little, informal ones like 'Zizz' to the more elegant 'Zephyr'. Sometimes this fixation extends to names of people and places leading me to wonder whether I tolerate Zack Snyder and Zach Galifianakis  purely because of their names.
This mild obsession was definitely not something I was born with. My interest was piqued after a rather interesting half an hour on an otherwise dreary day at school a long time ago. We were enjoying a rare free period while the teacher was trying to keep the class engaged. She thought of introducing the class to a simplified version of SCRABBLE®. Discerning readers may notice the registered trademark symbol, to indicate that SCRABBLE® is a Hasbro trademark. With all the brouhaha about IP rights these days, you can never be too sure. Coming back to the story, in the modified form of the game each letter was assigned a fixed value No double or triple-letter scores, no double or triple-word scores. In short, no frills. The class was divided into two teams - one on either side of the aisle. The blackboard doubled up as the playing surface as well as a scoreboard. Right from the beginning of the game we were trailing behind the other team, which I suspect had a few experienced players in it. With each move steadily  increasing the gap between the two teams, there came to a stage where we were 20-odd points adrift. To make matters worse, the class was almost about to get over by then and we had time for one final move before the bell rang. Our team looked nervously at the blackboard. Tension writ large on our faces, each one of us was trying to somehow concoct a word which could make us win. It is amazing how even in small, inconsequential contests like this where victory or defeat hardly matters, no one wants to lose. Among the maze of letters on the blackboard, there was a 'N' we could start with and an 'E' to finish with four words in between. We were looking at each other, racking our brains trying to find the word we needed. With the other team staring at us and the bell about to ring, our minds were threatening to go completely blank. We had almost given up trying when like a rabbit conjured out of a magician's hat, the word popped out of nowhere into my head. I scribbled it on my notebook and a quick calculation later, I strode towards the blackboard.
Of course we did not win, but a last-minute tie is almost as honourable and called for hoots of joy and energetic desk thumping. Later that night, I scoured through my copy of the Longman for a word which might have won us the game. I could not find any (which made me feel a little relieved) but it did not take long for a strange fondness to develop.

7 comments:

  1. Sujoy, what can I say..Iam still in a mixed state of emotions like appreciation (for ur memory),nostalgia(days we shared with each other),pride (of what you are today)...and won't forget to mention,surprise,that you would write a whole note for sharing ur schooldaY memory in which I was part of!!! As I was reading your note or what's it called...Blog..the mist started to clear off taking me back to the matchbox sized classroom where all of us used to fight for a SPACE ;). Yes!the incident came into clear vision completely as I read it line by line and am surprised that how u remembered its each moment..then figured out the reason..after all everyone remembers few of their childhood days' memories.
    Now I know what u meant about ur 'words with Z in it'...thank god I could leave some good memories to cherish.

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  2. Its funny.. that one game might've changed your outlook towards english and made you the blogger you are.

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  3. wow!!thats a lovely story..

    and u have just given me a easy to play team game...will use it sometime for sure...when i have a group of ppl or kids to manage. :)

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  4. Learning and learning outcomes as well as issues related to it can help you promote your abilities. What do you love and a space can help you promote.

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