Short Story: 'The Performance'

This could be the day he had been waiting for. No, he couldn't afford any doubt now. This would be the day he had been waiting for.

When he first got the call telling him about this opportunity, he tried not to get too excited. It was just a possibility and he shouldn't get his hopes too high, just in case things fizzled out again, like they had done several times before. But gradually, things kept falling in place, and as the process moved reluctantly forward, he let himself begin to feel the happiness that such an event should bring.

He had toiled long and hard in anonymity. At first he had thought that it was a necessary step on his way to further success and recognition. But years had passed and he had settled into a rut. He liked to think of it as a groove now, but if he were to judge himself on the ambitions he had in his youth, this was definitely a rut. Youth is the only time when the goals we set for ourselves are a simple expression of our dreams; unblemished by clouds of doubt, unhindered by fear.

It is hard to come to terms with your life when you know you could have done so much better, that you could have been so much more, if only you had gotten the chance.

But a chance he did finally get. And this was it.

The room was packed with the audience. They all had season’s tickets and turned up on most days for the scheduled shows. The tickets were very exclusive and it was an achievement just to get hands on them. Which is why they turned up for most shows, believing that their hard-fought tickets would ensure that they got served interesting fare. Sometimes they got what they wanted, at others they were sorely disappointed. Which would it be tonight?

Fifteen minutes into his performance, he began to have serious doubts about it. He wasn’t catching anyone’s interest. A few had dozed off already. Others seemed to be engrossed in stuff that had nothing to do with his performance.

In the last row, one audience member whispered to his neighbor, “Dude, this new professor sucks.”


  1. That brings out the typical notion of certain communities about some proffessions being second class ones where people end up only because they could'nt achieve better. If thats the case, why have expectations from them at all? :) It's the end of the road for the system then isnt it!

  2. @eternalmonotony: This really isn't about the profession in general. It is about the less than competent people in that profession. Take a case-by-case basis and tell me how many of them are actually good teachers?

    Teaching is a noble profession, but unfortunately, since it isn't as remunerative, it is hard to find quality teachers.

  3. Arslan, Would u help me know from where to get this widget of "hits" on a blog?

  4. @Pooja: Several free stats counters are available on net. I'm using SiteMeter. It's simple but very basic.

  5. Exactly..most of them aren't good teachers because good people aint coming into it due to remuneration and general "perception" that people come into teaching only if they dint get anything better.

  6. Well i completely agree that Teaching is taken up as a last resort.... And People who can't make it big in other arenas actualy are the only ones ending up as Teachers. Expecting too much from them isnt fair on them and moreover it is not necessary that a good student can come out to be a good teacher.

  7. Thanks so much Arslan!
    I do drop by and read ur blogs once in a while... u write daam good... with full self-expression!
    Enjoy it always!

  8. Ouch!

    I plan to teach for a few years when I finish studying general medicine.

    I really really hope that doesnt happen to me..

  9. And no, teaching for me wont be a last resort, it will be a way for me to give back what I took from my college. :)

    and they're running out of lecturers in my college anyway..which is sad..

  10. mean.
    i love the idea.
    good stuff ;)

  11. @eternalmonotony & Amrita: I think that in elite institutions, it is solely a matter of remuneration and not perception. In lesser institutions, perception may also be a factor. It is a sad state of affairs if we aren't even supposed to expect anything from our teachers..

    @Pooja: Thank you! :)

    @Tangled: Nice to hear that! My dept. at IIT was full of former students of that dept. All of them left cushy jobs in US to come back and pursue research in India and teach the next generation. They were truly inspiring examples for all of us.

    @Niyati: Arre, it isn't mean. It's just a sad fact..

  12. ouch! i'm never gonna teach...too happy with my mad house :D
    i really dread such moments :|

  13. loved this one...
    all the way i was trying to think what was u talking abt...

    :) tc

  14. @Nikita: There are teachers and there are teachers. You wud be second kind. I'll let you figure out which kind that is. :P

    @gypsy: thanks a lot! :)

  15. Ha ha! Nice entry! Like your style of writing...

  16. boy, this has turned into a debate on education. i understood the metaphor slightly differently. someone who had toiled hard to get somewhere, but once they got there, they weren't good enough.

    looking at it from a short story perspective, i didnt like the ending!

    but i loved some observations along the way - "Youth is the only time when the goals we set for ourselves are a simple expression of our dreams; unblemished by clouds of doubt, unhindered by fear."

  17. @Nirupama: Thank you! :)

    @pankaj: Yea, even I was a bit surprised at the comments. The theme was definitely of not being good enough. And this wasn't really fiction. I wrote this in a particular class.

    About the ending, did you not like the fact that it turned out to be a prof, or the way it was revealed?

  18. very well written!
    i just hope tht professors think of their classes as a performance(which i doubt). Professors teach and carry out research projects. They must know their subject and know how to express it. Finding a combination of knowledge and expressiveness is rare and that is maybe the reason the new professor sucks. He will improve with time. Tht is the hope.

  19. @Gunner: Thanks :)
    I wish this was completely fiction. That seems about right. But quite often, I've observed that the more expertise and knowledge a prof. has, the better communicator he becomes. The requirement is to only clearly express ideas in their field of study. So, while they may not be great speakers on general topics, they are able to express their own subject quite well. For example, all research papers require significant writing skills. I've noticed this with myself as well. If I'm not able to express something fluently, then I've probably not understood it as well as I thought I have.

  20. Lol..that is soo true..I havent had the guts to doze off in a lecture but have done stuff which is not connected to the lecture in any way!!

  21. @Shanu: Welcome! Blogging in class is right up there, ain't it?

  22. A month ago I would've called it mean. Now I am not so sure... :P

    n yes, I agree, it's the sad reality; even at the best schools in the country.

    P.S. I made a couple of my classmates read it too. Totally identified with it.

  23. @Divinite: I'm always a step ahead of you! :P

    But had you read it a month earlier, wouldn't you have related it to your UG profs?

    And thanks for sharing this.. :)


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