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Friday, February 24, 2006

THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

These are the times when I should have been in school gambolling among the daffodils & meadows, playing footer in pouring rain, playing truant or getting deliberately red-carded, and yes, putting scratchy pen to intransigent paper. Now after the decade or so that I have been away from school examinations, hall-tickets, supplementary sheets and other knotty affairs, the hoary Cheery Brigade of Scholastic Erudition has decreed that Students appearing for the Class X and XII examinations will now get a "cool-off" time of 15 minutes for running through the question paper. Students would be allowed entry into the examination centres 45 minutes before the specified time on the first day and 30 minutes on subsequent days., and have increased number of pages in the main answer books to avoid handling of supplementary sheets.

In middle school alone, one takes about three exams a year in six subjects and this tortuous exercise lasts for three years. So a lot of paper and many threads. Most students would vouch for the fact that the most difficult task in an exam is the capacious streams of knowledge, gushing currents of remembered information and swampy marshes of mostly useless material that the child is forced to craft in a measly two hours. My most trying hours were in the subjects of Hindi and Social Sciences where my right arm was in constant danger of falling off and I still hear collective sighs of relief from the willing pen, ruler, eraser, colouring pencil, shrapnel and pen-knife as they trooped wearily back to the safe confines of my trusted old pencil-box ( which I still have ) .

After these punishing two hour-ascents, the three hours that one got in high school was a Look Ma-No Hands downhill cruise. For Sanskrit, forty-five minutes were all that were needed and then the drudgery of hands hung in despair as the tiring invigilator refused to let the cats out of the bag till thirty minutes before the stipulated time. And I remember my Class Ten Science paper vividly as with twelve minutes to the bell, I realized that I needed to convince the old goons who corrected my scrawled labours of the profundity of my knowledge of the production of Iron, Joule’s experiment and Infant Nutrition ( which counted for fifteen precious marks ) All’s well that ends well !

Aye, these fifteen minutes of fame matter !


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