Many of you might have read the novel Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, which revolves around a character named Yossarian who finds himself stuck on to a battlefield without relief. And his every attempt towards his disengagement from his assignment leads to a catch 22 situation and a failed attempt. Catch 22 is a situation where in you need to carry out one out the few actions, but any action you choose will lead to an unwanted situation.
That was bit theoretical and not well phrased but should serve the purpose of explanation. I had read this novel a few years back on my first ship. But I remember it today along with the catch 22 situation we had to face in our school days.
We had a very disciplinary nun, Sr. Rebecca, as the principal of our Pope John XXIII high school. She was the kind of person who never took talk backs from her students. “Don’t argue with me” were the words repeating, now and again from her mouth, just like the repeatedly running flash news on the bottom of a TV screen. And “wham”!! A good “pasting”, as she called it(punishing with a cane lash on hands), would follow. I always prayed that I would never want to be in such situation.
But God works in mysterious ways!! I had to face her once.
It so happened that I had scored less marks in a particular exam, and my father, being a teacher, wanted to find out where I had gone wrong. So he came to visit the principal one day and requested for my answer paper set, so that he could check it at home leisurely. Those were the days when open day(open day in India, is the day on which parents are asked to visit the school before results declarations, to gauge their child’s performance) was not a fad, so the principal initially refused. But later after a bit of talk she agreed and called me over the intercom. I went to her office, where she asked me to collect the papers from her or the vice principal at the end of school. So I went after the school to collect them, but was told by the vice principal that the principal was out and the papers were locked in the storage and could not be handed over to me. I came home empty handed, and was scolded by my dad, who thought that I didn’t go to collect the papers.
Few days later the principal entered our classroom on regular visit. She was already angry as she entered, and I being the person sitting near the entrance, became the object of her anger. “This boy’s(even though she knew my name very well, that was not important here) father came to me and requested to give him this boy’s exam papers. I took them out of the storage, but he is yet to collect them after so many days. They are still lying in my office. Tell me why didn’t you come? TELL ME!!” I manage to word out a feeble explanation which went, “Sister, actually I…..”, and stopped there. Because already it was, WHAM!! “Don’t argue with me.”
Catch 22 isn’t it?