There was a perfect silence in the classroom. The professor stopped his lecture. Like a lightning that flashes in the dark night of the new moon, the voice of the professor came, "please wake him up". A student who was sleeping in the last row stood up with little embarrassment. Usually the students of the last rows consider themselves VIP’s and the valuable lectures are only lullaby for them. "You … devil…" the professor continued his fiery words, "don’t you know that laziness is the workshop of devils. Be active man".
When I heard the professor accusing the devil as a lazy creature and comparing the lazy boy to the devil, I felt nervous. For, I agree with the opinion of J. B. Priestly who said, ‘all the evil in the world is brought about by persons who are always up and doing’ and since the devil is the cause of evil in this world, it must be active. Having this thought in my mind, I decided to argue with the professor.
I was on my legs the next moment. I would have been happy if the professor had compared the lazy boy to an angel because I am sure that the angel is the laziest creature in this world as well as the next.
The fierce look of the emotional professor came on me as I stood up. By his mere sight my joints went slack, my knees began to knock and hay stuck in my throat. However, I did not lose heart. "Sir…", my trembling voice indicated the fear and hands began to shake as one does in Kashmir winter. All the eyes of the class stared at me and I continued, " please call him an angel sir. Don’t call him devil. If the devil comes to know that you are comparing this lazy boy to it, it may get angry".
"What…?" boomed the professor’s voice.
"Don’t you read in the Bible that the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion?", I spoke out. "Don’t you know the Christian tradition that out of twelve, three groups became evil spirits and cause much trouble in the world, while nine groups of angels couldn’t overcome the evil because of their laziness?", I continued undeterred.
"How dare are you?" the professor went red with rage.
I was not to be intimidated, went on. "Don’t you remember the gods in Hindu mythology are in constant war with asuras and more specifically Lord Vishnu, who took nine avatars and is preparing to himself to take the tenth Kalki avatar in order to overcome the evil in the world?".
The torrent of words ceased for a moment. The professor was absolutely silent. Silence is often the sign of approval. I took the professor’s silence in this sense and was happy that the words of Robert Lynd, ‘we can convert nobody by arguing’ became false as far as I am concerned. With this triumph, I pronounced my last statement, "Sir… the busiest creature in this world is the devil … devil … devil…".
The words ‘devil … devil … devil…’ came from my mouth in such a high tone that I felt a little pain in my head and back, I had the sensation of cold water too falling o my face.
When a cat drinks the milk of a jar, it closes its eyes. It is blissful till it gets a blow from the cook. Similarly when I had the pain, I slowly opened my eyes and found myself on the floor instead of on the bed. I saw my mother standing beside me having the holy water bottle in her hand.
I was able to guess what had happened. ‘The courage, the fluent language, the vigorous arguments and the satisfaction as a victor are all in my dream!’. ‘Where are my arguments? Where is my victory?’ I wondered.
However, I was happy that at least in my dream I was jubilant.
S. Thomas Janetius - Published in Arul Anandar College, Karumathur, Annual Magazine 1984 – 85.