The word Examination still sends a chill down my spine. All though my school, college, university and now as a mother, again through school, college…these things do not seem to leave us alone. Who has not gone through this grit and grind? Exams are that one time that transforms every student, even the most notorious and naughty ones into diligent, dedicated sloggers. It is not about what you have done all round the year in class, practicals or projects, what matters is the last lap of the race.
What counts is whether your focus and stamina will last till the deadline, if all the notes, xeroxes, Watsapp points and messages, scribbled pages, all are available and accessible, and how practiced you are at closing doors to distractions on your cell phone. Even if all these sound like insurmountable challenges in normal times, they are not so, especially during the exam fervor. There germinates a sudden regard for the teachers whose classes you may have bunked, a sudden feeling of friendship towards that geek from class who has been the but of your jokes all-round the year, and a rapid respect and concern for the text books that may have some pages absolutely undiscovered, till this catastrophic moment!
You may feel like you are on a journey to self-discovery, for you abruptly begin to acclimatise to new habits adapted to suit the changing times. For starters, you can suddenly sit on your desk for 2 hours, unflinchingly. The dim light, hard chair, fine print in the text book, scrawny hand in the notebook, or the fan speed, hunger pangs- nothing distracts. You become like a human who has opened his third eye, possessed and uncompromising, who will settle for nothing less than excellence. Concentration functions at the optimal level. You may even suddenly develop the superhuman powers of photogenic memory! See a diagram once and you can reproduce it. Why shock yourself? It is the need of the times. Desperate times need desperate measures, after all!
Well, in case you are at home, then the atmosphere gets even more charged. The environment and ambiance around, changes dramatically and drastically. The study room gets spic and span, devoid of all clutter (read that as Red Bull cans, chocolate wrappers lying in the drawer, a haywire toothbrush, a mislaid comb or those vanished bike keys, unused erasers, soiled ice-cream spoons, over-used pencils, even your scrap book). An ISO methodology is implemented- everything has a place. Cupboards or dustbins or through the window…
And what happens to the psyche of the parents or other older members? Without any prelude, everyone becomes extremely tolerant, forgiving, and accommodating about all your mess, weird time to eat and sleep, and odd hours of guitar playing or gaming, during the ‘break’ in study time. Watch out, for everyone begins acting as if they too have your exam. (Or probably it’s just that thing in the air, you know…). Food habits are modified. Nutritious food gets priority, raisins and almonds, veggies too, and yes, not to forget the spoonful of curd as a good luck memo just before you leave for the battle. No street food, no burgers, Chinese noodles from the stalls are banned, and over drinking tea to stay awake is forbidden to prevent acidity attacks. Soups and juices get delivered to the study table with your favorite bites too. There are no cat-fights, no tempers flying, no blame games or penalties for skipped chores. A period of idealistic family life prevails. So much so that it actually feels unnatural and uncomfortable as the last paper approaches.
Once it starts, it has to end, is what they say. Exams are no exceptions. The short-lived avatar of that book-obsessed, devoted and dedicated student is already marking the calendar for the last exam. The watsapp messages have already started sounding…plan for a movie or a party in some new uptown joint is a devil’s disruption, some poor fellow cannot resist. He is ahead of time, planning for the day after, already. The household too is pent up already, constipated actually, with so much controlled good behavior and patience, they are ready to burst. No surprises you want to directly go to that movie theater after the final bell rings.
The question papers can go in the files next day or a week later. That’s a job for another day…And everyone is so glad when the exam ends…for their own reasons! The phase of abstinence has come to an end. The anxiety- free feeling takes time to sink in. The thought of the results does not exist at this wonderful time. That too is a nail biting concern for another day…The same scenario plays year after year, and each year we endure, sustain and survive. And each year it is a sense of exhilaration. Not just because we all get freed from the burden of this drudgery and pressure of the exams, but because once again life returns to normalcy….