The two knobs

“Just a tad bit more…”, thought Aravind*, as he carefully turned the knob on the left. The second knob, the one on the right, was already fixed at a preset level. He did not dare touch it, lest he should upset the subtle balance. He was steadily concentrating, his eyes fixed on the two knobs. Aravind was confident of getting the mix right today. He had not forgotten the mishap two months back, when he had carelessly left the knobs unattended. The mix had severely burned his right hand then. The scar was still visible.

“It won’t happen again”, he had promised himself after that incident. He had been repeating this trial and error with the knobs everyday, but was not able to figure out the optimum levels for each. He was determined to get it right this time. “You need utmost care while doing this”, Aravind had explained to a colleague after his mishap. His careless attitude had surprised himself at that time.  After all, he was a senior intern at the Center for Advanced Studies in Precision Mechanics*. He prided himself on his steady hands.

The two knobs
The two knobs

Aravind was keenly watching the mix now, his eyebrows knit.  “Anytime now…”, he told himself as he carefully turned the left knob a little. He was maintaining a weird stance; half-standing, half-sitting, and trying hard to keep his balance. The cold weather was doing little to help him.

His intense concentration was shattered by a shrill noise piercing through the chill air. Caught off-guard by the sudden onslaught of noise, Aravind lost his balance and fell backward from his awkward half-sitting stance. For a moment, he couldn’t understand what had happened, and then,  he realized that his phone was ringing. Cursing himself for setting such a loud ringtone, he went and picked up the phone. It was his guide from the Center.

“Hello.. Good morning Sir”

“Hello Aravind, very good morning. I just called to remind you about today’s presentation. Be here on time.”

“Yes.. yes Sir”, stammered Aravind.

“What’s the matter, Aravind? Are you panting? What happened?”

“Nothing sir… just.. it’s just.. I was adjusting the knobs when the call came”, replied Aravind.

“Oh! I see.. Careful with that stuff, boy, we don’t want your hands in bandage again”, and he ended that with a guffaw.

“Ok sir.. see you at the lab, later.”


Aravind threw the phone on his bed and ran back to check on the knobs.

“Thank God!”, said Aravind, apparently sensing that everything was just fine. Everything looked pretty innocent enough.

“Now, to test this thing..”, thought Aravind, as he looked around to find a suitable substitute to test the mix. He didn’t find anything.

“Well..”, he said to himself, “there’s only one way to find out, isn’t it?”. The time was running out, and Aravind had no option now but to use his own hands to test it – again.

Slowly, he lowered his hands. His brain was teasing him, playing a flashback of the mishap over and over again in his mind.

“It’s okay, it’s okay…”, Aravind reassured himself as he lowered his hands further.

Aravind closed his eyes shut and in a swift, smooth motion, he dipped his wrist right in to the luke warm water in the bucket.

“Perfect!”, Aravind shouted with joy. “Just the right mix of hot and cold”, said he, and withdrew his hand. Aravind felt a sense of triumph, having concocted the right mix once again.

“Take a bow Aravind”, he said to himself, as he imagined himself boasting to his friends about getting the correct temperature for bath water yet again.

*Disclaimer: The character, and the institution are completely fictitious.

Inspired in part by this, and by personal woes 😀

Note to the reader: If you felt like a big bubble was created, well, it just burst. But I hope you spare me on terms of brotherhood and human compassion 😉

[Image courtesy: Original image of the knobs courtesy of Alvimann.]


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