How could i fail?
I had revised and roted all the important ‘points’ that might be asked. I remembered the page numbers as well as the chapters and the text books with the text because of their creative spelling errors. Marx and Marks were the same guy who came up with the ideas of communism. Apart from that I had also done some extra readings on my subject as well as some other subjects which I knew had no relevance to the core subjects of my studies. Suppose, my subject was social science, I studied ancient books on construction & architecture. Though these subjects didn’t have any primary relevance to the papers I was studying for, but maybe for their secondary or a tertiary relevance, creatively presented as an extra vague reference to prove my grasp on the subject to my examiner; all of these gave an added confidence because you never knew how these examinations took place.
A university senior, who was younger than me in age, had once complained that the final exams were notorious for asking out of syllabus questions and that took all the pleasure out of sitting, well prepared for these exams. An experience similar to going prepared for shopping to a certain shop or a market by evening, to buy that specific item which had given you sleepless nights of wishful fascination, till you waited impatiently for the salary to be in your account, only to realise at the end that the market or that specific shop was closed because the shopkeeper took an impromptu holiday after lunch break.
Exam Day. When you first read the question paper, taking it in your shaky hands from the hall guard, with an absent minded “Thank you, Sir”, your mind, most often, actually focused on the set of questions which you will be sitting and answering for the next three hours. A holyman had once told me to leave the worry for God and concentrate on the task at hand, and that what meditation is, I came to know about later. When asked where is God, he said, he manifests himself even in thin air.
I meditated. I left my worries for the unseen, releasing them in the thin air as I sat down to tackle my papers. As expected 60% of the questions were from the books and the rest 40% from thin air. No. Not about God, but from things which I had never studied during the whole year. I do not recollect reading about those things ever in my life. Promptly I recollected the holyman’s advise, and suspended the thoughts of the unread into thin air as I sat biting my pen, till the unknown 40% dissolved nicely, without a trace into the air.
The known 60% were not easy either. I kept struggling to frame sentences to the questions, which I was to answer. The ideas I put forth as answers were an attempt, on my part, if nothing but to test the examiner’s patience as I imagined how he would go round, and round, and round in infinite cycles to cypher the content I had answered. After a gruelling & frustrating round of examination, marking such similar answer sheets the whole day, he would mark me with a meagre figure, which I know wouldn’t be close to securing a pass in the paper. I spent about two hours or so creating perfect eddies of ideas, presenting them as answers to the numbered questions. I knew the socialist ideas of the great Marx and answered them in the beginning, taking care not to repeat the errors of my books. Marx would bring in some marks, I knew, the rest were exam hall creatives.
The rest 40% of thin air had to be conquered in order to present a complete answer sheet. I did not even remember the composition of air which I learnt at school, leave alone answering the two short notes and the descriptive answers. What was I to do, before the final bell rang and the guard snatched away the sheets. Poor marks were not an issue, if I somehow managed to cross the boundary dividing pass and fail. I shuddered at the idea of another year, sitting with juniors and repeating the same answers.
Help, no God, manifested himself in the form of my co-student. He gestured whether I needed help? I said yes, how could he help me, I gestured back. He revealed a solved answer booklet tucked inside his trousers, below his shirt. As if a book with all the answers to the puzzling questions of life fell straight from heaven. It was a moment of revealation,when all your troubles go away as you read the book, the guide of your life, something equivalent to a holy book of sorts. I was not an atheist, for some wiseman had said that atheism too is a belief of the non believers. I sat there, deciding, about accepting the book from my co-student and cheat my way out of the exam or create some more eddies of non-answers.
I had never been a skilful cheater. The few times I did it, it was a mutual sort of an exchange where I solved half the problem while my co-student solved the other half, mutually benefitting both of us. But this exam was different, and I already had handled enough of the atmosphere where passing a certain exam makes you eligible, for life itself. How does it help? You are eligible for service, you are eligible for higher education, your juniors look up at you as a graduate, you are expected to answer people around you as a graduate, not as a college-good-for-nothing-drop out. I realised the amount of pressure which built at that moment and the future prospects after passing that paper.
I decided to answer my questions without taking any help from the student. He looked confused, maybe that was not the norm. But then, he didn’t know what metal I was built of. He hadn’t tasted the power of creativity like me. I read and re read the first question from thin air until I could feel the question in my veins, as it mixed with my haemoglobin. As my heart pumped and my blood reached the brain, a number of unused ideas flowed from my brains to my fingers and I sat rapidly putting them down on the paper. I did the same to the second question too and inhaled gasps of fresh air while writing down every single thing that came to mind. The answers were completed in no time and I completed my paper well ahead of others. I revised the ‘content’ of my sheet for spelling errors and mistakes before handing them to the guard with a smile of satisfaction. He asked me, ‘All questions?’, I replied ‘No Sir, all anwers!’