NOTE: Those who are reading this story for the first time, please check PROJECT-PART 1 and PROJECT-PART 2 before proceeding any further.
It was an ill fated Friday. Overnight, we all became heroes. It was unprecedented. The story spread like wildfire in college with different versions. Right from the security guys to the most studious nerd of the college, everyone heard the story. The rumor mongers had a field day with the happenings-
“They will all be kicked out of the college”
“ Pradeep raised his hand on Murthy sir”
“They would be failed in project. I have inside news”
On Monday, first thing we did was, we went and met Jyothi sir. He was looking very grim sitting in his sweaty lab with his right hand on his temple-nothing about the scene was encouraging for us. The moment he saw us, he gave a weary smile which said it all. Even before we asked him anything, we lost all hope. We just walked up to him and stood silently-none could dare utter a single word. He cleared his throat and said-
“ Ok. First things first-go and apologize to…”
“No…” whispered Pradeep slowly.
“After everything that happened… no sir… we can’t do that.”
I looked at Pradeep not understanding whether to admire his courage or kick him for stupidity but Jyothi sir spoke again fast.
“I talked to Murthy Sir. I talked to others too. The HOD doesn’t know it yet…”
We looked at each other incredulously.
“Yes. Once the matter goes to his table, no one can help you. So shut up and do what I say…”
“Yes sir…” we said, at that slightest hint of hope.
“Go and apologize to Murthy Sir. Tell him anything-I don’t care. But apologize. He is very angry; he won’t help you in your project-that’s for sure. After talking to him, come back to me.”
“But sir… our project?”
“I will be your project guide”
We apologized to Murthy sir for two reasons-our project is at stake and sheer respect to Jyothi sir.
Jyothi sir took over as our project guide and he convinced the latter to give us the same project-no one really knew how he managed it but he did. Life gives us many chances-we again had a new project guide and a project. But we hadn’t really learnt anything from this incident-we still didn’t work on the code and for a change we had a guide who didn’t insist on our working. The person who was supposed to give us the code had a simple wish before delivering us the code-he wanted to see all four of us together once. His wish was never granted-it was always a one single person who goes to his house and that too, only to enquire whether the program is over or not.
Slowly the D-Day was arriving-externals for Project. Before this, we had a trivial project review which went by without many problems, as this time; instead of the battalion of lecturers in the conference room-it was only Jyothi sir and couple of others.
One day before the D-Day, Subbaraju(banda) went and collected the CD which had the code.
“Got it? “ I asked after he came back.
“yeah man. There is a small hitch…”
“What happened?..” Subbaraju(Potti) asked anxiously.
“The program doesn’t run. We have the whole code written but it doesn’t compile or run.” He said simply shrugging his shoulders.
“What the… We have externals tomorrow. Is that man crazy?” Subbaraju(Potti) almost screamed.
“We were supposed to help him dude. Anyways here is what we do-we have the Output saved on a different file. When we run the program, we will just press “Alt+tab” and show the output." He said calmly.
I chuckled. It was an interesting idea but lest it failed, we would become the biggest cartoons of the college.
Prim and properly dressed, we all reached the conference room where the presentations take place. It’s the same routine-presentation-followed by viva and then demonstration of the project. As soon as we reached the place, the news was in-we had the meanest external professor who is very stingy with marks preside our process. But marks never meant much to us. Once we were in, Subbaraju(Banda) started with the proceedings and quickly followed by others. I explained my part once again looking at the wall behind and everything was going very smoothly. After our presentation, we all stood in a line near the projector for the viva. The external was an old man with specs at the tip of his nose and receding hairline. Reading our report, he asked us a question. None of us even understood what he was asking, let alone answering it. We were fidgeting nervously when we caught sight of Jyothi sir at the back-he was mouthing the answer without sound.
Every time a question was asked to one of us, we would look at Jyothi sir at the back as if we were thinking about the question and answered the same after few seconds. Viva went about very smoothly thanks to Jyothi sir’s timely (kindly) help though we didn’t answer a few questions only because we couldn’t understand what Jyothi sir was actually trying to say.
After the Viva we were asked to wait at the laboratory along with remaining groups at our respective places. It was quite a view. Wires dangling everywhere, robots, remote controlled cars and whatnot, that room had everything. We took our place at the lone computer of the room where we inserted the CD and waited.
The old man finally came, after he finished with all the presentations of other groups and the viva. After royally screwing the other two groups before us for their incomplete projects, he came to us and sat at the chair before the system. Subbaraju(Banda) was standing to his left and started showing him the program on the screen. After explaining the program, he ran it and in a flash pressed “alt+tab” and showed him the Output on a different folder. As the old man was seriously looking at the output with his hand on his forehead, I started to feel the heat of the moment. I looked around to see Murthy sir with a smirk on his face and Jyothi sir, pale with tension. I was taking in small breaths and letting the air out slowly, just to try and relax myself when-
“Ok! Everything is in order.”
“Interesting program I must say… Change the input values. I want to see a different output”
I and Subbaraju(banda) were exchanging looks when,
“Sure sir. Just a min...” said Pradeep almost immediately who was to his right.
Pradeep started going through the program to change the input values. All three of us looked at each other with utmost shock-we forgot to tell him that the program doesn’t run! DAMN
As Pradeep started entering new values as input for the program, I looked around again-Jyothi sir had both his hands on his head, Murthy sir looked like he just won a lottery, Subbaraju(Banda) was biting his nonexistent nails and I was sweating profusely. Subbraju(Potti), who was right behind Pradeep, was trying to ‘pinch’ him to make him stop but of no use-Pradeep entered the values and ran the program!
The screen went blank.
Pradeep thought he hit the wrong keys and looked at Subbaraju(banda) for help and he got back the most exasperated look. And immediately, he pressed “alt+tab” and displayed the output-the same one.
The old man looked at the screen with attention that I feared he might rub his nose to the screen. After few anxious seconds, the external remarked-
“That’s good. As I expected- not much change. Good good!”
I was almost heaving a sigh of relief when he asked again-
“So how do you calculate the load?”
Pradeep put up his best posture-chest out, standing stiff with his head high and voice laced with confidence and answered-
“We don’t calculate the load sir”
“Oh ... that’s right… that’s fine.” exclaimed the external as he got up from the seat and walked over to the next group.
It was after he went away, Pradeep understood why everyone around were gaping at us. The title of our project was- “A New Algorithm for Calculating the Load”.
We collected our things and walked slowly out of the lab. While we were talking to other friends, Jyothi sir called us with a wide grin on his face.
“Thank you sir…”
“You guys bowled him over…” he said with a twinkle in his eyes.
“He was impressed with your work guys. Rest assured, you all are going to get very good marks.” He announced with a huge smile which went from one ear to the other.
Thanking him, we smiled. Our smiles turned to laughter the moment we came out and we laughed till tears rolled down our cheeks. The laughter continued all through the day as we partied till the wee hours of the next morning. Looking at our white covered Project report, we all knew-this is one project we won’t be forgetting too soon and its true-it’s been four years since this happened and I remember it as if it’s just yesterday.