Be it the completely useless nature of OBEs or the craving for offline life, exams are something that has the ability to trigger our emotions at any point. The nostalgia comes back as the portal answers the Shakespearean question of to crash or not to crash.
It was the night before my Accountancy Board Exams. I still remember the number of times I prayed to God to help me pass this one exam. With anxiety overwhelming me, I entered the exam hall and wrote the exam. The hours of preparation, the sheer number of sample papers I solved, the tips and tricks and jugaad – it all came flashing back to me as I walked out of that exam hall with a sense of accomplishment.
The culmination of effort and dedication with will and motivation are fresh in my memory. It is as though it was just yesterday when this happened. To be fair not much has changed ever since. Other than the fact that the world is facing a deadly pandemic. Or that I will become a senior to some random kids in four months. With my mug of coffee on the table as I sit for my routine breakdown with Anuv Jain playing in the background (unnecessary buildup for the vibes), I think about how life has taken a 180-degree turn since that day. The eeriness makes me uneasy.
In school, we all maintained a diary (I checked; it is ia and not ai, apparently the other means milk but never mind) with long to-do lists, and created planners which never really helped us plan but wasted a lot of time for sure. Skipping classes back then seemed like an abhorrent crime that must not be talked about. Studying for long hours for tests till anxiety overtook was the norm.
It was a better time- when things were simple. The invigilator walks into the room with the bundle of question papers in their hand. All eyes turn towards them, trying to steal a peek. From one corner to the other, kids with textbooks and notes in their hand scream. They ask doubts just in case the question ends up coming in the question paper. If a teacher is found roaming in the corridors, they will be grilled with unparalleled passion, and all the doubts that never came up in class arise five minutes before the exam. As the confusion and chaos settle, the paper begins with pin-drop silence.
Little murmurs are let out as the cheaters and cheatees (petition to make cheatee a valid English word) try to exchange valuable insights with each other. The class topper heckles the invigilator for a supplement. Others use the opportunity to smuggle the answers around the room. In the last five minutes, all the kids rush to finish the paper as the invigilator prepares to snatch them away from them. The exam ends and everyone breaks into chatter once again.
As the tint of the flashback fades, the reality comes forth. As I wait on my laptop refreshing my screen with Error 504: Gateway Not Found, the anxiety intensifies. A saviour uploads the question paper on the group and hence begin the Hunger Games. With an unfathomable accuracy, the toppers disappear from the scene. The rest act as watchdogs for forwards that keep pouring in. “Bas ye answer bata de,” “Bhai Question 4 ka answer mila kya,” and “Ye kya paper banaya hai” resonate in the Zoom Meeting which all the needy rushed to join. As time passes, the quality of answers keeps getting better and the anxiety and writing quality decreases.
By the last question, it is all practically illegible and blabber just to fill the pages. With shivering hands, I scan my sheets and upload them as the fourth hour approaches its end. As the DU portal says – your submission is received, I sigh peacefully and look at my sheets.
In over a year, the world has changed so much. I have become oblivious to classes and lectures. With the laziness induced by the pandemic, the motivation to open books or notes has died (along with the will to live, but that’s too dark). I was a nerd who used to study for nights before exams. My only preparation for my OBEs was finding the PDFs of the textbooks and glancing over the syllabus. It feels uneasy to adjust to this new idea of how things are working. Perhaps, between the Zoom meetings and the society heads sending passive-aggressive texts stemming from a faux authority, the perspective of what is important in life has been lost. This shift from school to OBEs has been weird and hence, what disturbs me is the eeriness of university exams.
PS: I played Brown Munde during one of my OBEs because it got really boring sitting there silently for four hours.
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