"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan




Suresh stood under the awning of the tea-shop, watching the bunch of pariah kids huddled up on the pavement nearby. He had just wrapped up an interview - it had gone so well that he was confident of cracking the group discussion to start in half-hour. Once that is past, the job was his.
 
As he sipped his tea, he watched those kids crowding over a punctured soccer ball they had picked up from the trash. They were trying different ways to inflate it. They patched it with gum tape wrapped all around and passed the ball from mouth to mouth, trying to blow it up. Each kid held the ball for a few moments, caressed it to feel its velvety leather, peeped into its blow-hole and finally stuck it to its mouth to blow it up. They managed to get the ball perked up a bit but not enough to make it hard round to play with. So they kept trying.
 
Suresh mulled over their wasteful effort, "Oh! these ignorant kids," he pondered with a wry smile, "putting in so much effort and thought over some discarded and dead matter. There is no life in that ball anymore, and look at them all huddled up and so desperate to get it back in shape." 
 
An ambulance whistled by, with doctors, it seemed, desperately trying to revive an accident patient. It distracted Suresh only for a moment, but with half tea left in his cup he got back to his preoccupation with the kids.
 
"What are they trying so much for?" he wondered, "anyway these kids won't play the same game everyday. Even if the ball is fixed, they would forget about it tomorrow." He was taking the last sip now, "Alas, this is what lack of education does to humans. Kids, with no purpose or goal, just busying themselves with whatever the street throws at them. I have an ambition, a plan for my life, and what do those kids have? Nothing but a deflated ball to keep them busy. And look at them taking that junk ball so seriously. What a wretched life!"
 
Suresh crumpled the cup, threw it in the bin, and went back to the office. The room was ready for the 'group discussion' stage. Other interviewees were huddled up already. The interviewer beckoned Suresh to his seat, and he duly joined the huddle.
 
The topic for the discussion was unveiled to them: "Comment on the strategic ramifications to Indian corporate industry of dual-tone policy enforced by ministry of Singapore in the context of its bilateral trade relationship with India." And they were given 5 minutes to prepare before starting the discussion.
 
The topic was completely alien to Suresh's interest; it was a bolt thrown at him from the blue. But he was all perked up. He would put his best efforts and come up with ideas. He got all serious, focused with the others, and started jotting down the points.
 
After 5 minutes, the topic went around the room, from mouth to mouth.
 
 
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