लोभमूलानि पापानि संकटानि तथैव च।
लोभात्प्रवर्तते वैरं अतिलोभात्विनश्यति ॥
अर्थात् , लोभ और पाप सभी संकटों का मूल कारण है, लोभ शत्रुता में वृद्धि करता है, अधिक लोभ करने वाला विनाश को प्राप्त होता है ।
The weather was moody. Chemistry was being put
into practice. As the yeast converted sugar syrup was getting into the gamma-aminobutyric
acid (GABA) receptors of our brains, the discussions wandered into college
days. Someone blabbered, ‘Have you heard about Iftikhar?’ I said, ‘No’. My
friend replied, ‘He is now a fugitive wanted by FBI‘. What??
Old Student Gallery, Department of Chemistry, Cotton College,
First trimester exam of class XI batch of
1987-1989. It was thrust upon us even before we could understand that we had
come to college to study, and not to enjoy the new found freedom of classes
without boundary walls, with choice of attending or lurk around hotspots. Passing
mark was 20 out of 30. While handing over the papers of Shivashish, who was a
rank holder in Xth board, the professor sermon him a piece of his mind. He
scored just above the passing mark 20 but was expected to perform better. As we
waited with bated breath, my roll no 311 was announced. I went down the gallery
to collect my paper. The professor nonchalantly handed over the paper without a
word and simply dismissed my presence. Wow. While going up the gallery to my
seat, I saw my mark as 17. Failed circled in red. Excitement evaporated as quickly
as they had surfaced. To the professor, we were just run of the mill students
who by mistake got into Cotton College that are destined to spoil the
reputation of the nearly 100 year old institute. Little did he knew that coming
from a vernacular medium school of state board without hearing about Chemistry
hitherto, we were struggling to get in terms with Carbon Monoxides and Dioxides
in English. The pride of getting into the premier institution of Assam / North
East was just put to dust.
Later in the day, over a smoking session, we
came to know that one Iftikhar Ali Ahmed, who was the 2nd rank holder in Xth
board, had scored 27 out of 30. That trend continued. While we continued to
struggle, Iftikhar kept scoring above 80%, and eventually went onto top our XII
board in 1989. But one thing was certain - we enjoyed the freedom of college
life more - from learning to smoke to bunking classes to first crush to those
morning English movies at Apsara. Life was carefree for us without any burden
to top the class. Iftikhar and his clan stayed away from us not to get
Eventually the two years in college passed in
a jiffy. Iftikhar was the only one who qualified for both Roorkee Engg College
and IIT-JEE. Those days, qualifying for Roorkee was considered tougher than
IIT. He eventually went to IIT- Mumbai. Meanwhile, we lesser mortals managed to
make it to regular Engineering Colleges. Without any coaching, the IIT-JEE exam
was a big conundrum for us to crack. Iftikhar was actually a brilliant student,
way above the hoi polloi. We all parted ways in 1989. Life went on - both for
Iftikhar and our clan.
Year 2018. Party continues…
Chemistery is no more that esoteric. Instead, Chemistry was being put into practice.
The blurt got registered deep even in that
subliminally intoxicated mind. Iftikhar is now a fugitive wanted by
Back home, as the effects of dopamine
subsided, I started Googling. Soon I found that Iftikhar, now described as a
Greenwich conman, has been indicted by a Boston Court for $54 million
embezzlement from a private equity firm where he worked. He used that money to
buy a $9.6 million house in Greenwich and another $8.6 million condominium in New
York. The swindling story was a la fiction material. Jeffry Archer could have
written a sequel to Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less.
Just completed watching season II of Scam -
the Telgi Story. It was uncontrolled greed and arrogance that led to downfall
of Telgi. In the process he lost his family, friends and all ill-gotten wealth.
His wife even applied to government to take back ill-gotten wealth. Abdul
Kareem Telgi was talented. So was Iftikhar Ali Ahmed.
We lesser mortals not endowed with such
extraordinary brilliance are living a peaceful life. God almighty has endowed
most of us enough wealth and success to enjoy life. At 50+, we keep bonding and
reliving those moments of 90s in get together.
Meanwhile, Iftikhar, with all those God gifted
brilliance, is on the run, with FBI on his trail, and may be living a
nondescript life in some corner of the world.
हुनर तो सब में होता है, बस फर्क इतना है, कोई चमक जाता है, कोई बर्बाद हो जाता हैं !