Hey, 80s kids: Do you remember being both thrilled and nervous when exam results were declared?

Even with the advent of Internet and social media, the emotions associated remain much the same today


Enid Grace Parker

Published: Mon 3 Oct 2022, 11:56 AM

So much of life in the 80s and early 90s was ‘physical’ not digital (the closest we got to a computer was a weekly school class) - and I’m happy to have been part of that world, even though I remain grateful for the ease with which we conduct our lives today.

Still, it is nice to recall the thrill of actually getting out and doing things and meeting people face-to-face instead of clicking on a computer or a phone.

I recently experienced a fit of nostalgia about my school days in Dubai, and the spectre of results that always loomed large after exams were done.

On a seemingly uneventful day in mid-1990, our Grade 11 classroom was buzzing with excitement (and nervousness) for the impending Board Exam results. The exams had been forgotten in the thrill of being admitted (albeit tentatively) to a new class, but rumours of the results landing had us on pins and needles.

Despite all our hopes that the agony of the wait would be over quickly, the results did not arrive till we left school that day. I remember how a phone call the same evening jolted my mother and aunt (also a teacher) into action (my dad was doing a night shift at work so sadly missed the moment).

The three of us then took a taxi to Oud Metha. Feeling rather oddly dressed in a t-shirt and denim skirt instead of my uniform, I elbowed my way to a gigantic printout pinned to a board, which held those eagerly awaited set of numbers that would determine many futures.

I can never forget the thrill of witnessing hundreds of teenagers en masse discovering, in a way, what the future held for them - a sea of happy and shocked faces amidst which there were shouts, gasps, and plenty of fist-bumping and high-fiving. Of course, disappointment was evident as well.

A highlight was bumping into my genial school Principal who chatted briefly with my teacher-mother, a role model feeling beyond ecstatic that her daughter had successfully transitioned into the next phase of academic life.

Today, exam results are transmitted instantly thanks to the Internet. But the sentiments associated with getting them remain the same - the triumphs and disappointments, the heartbreak and fear. Despite all our technological advancements, we’re still human and suffer the same fragility and the same emotions.

The pressure to work harder and rack up accomplishments is perhaps more now, the pace more frenzied, but even back then, tragedies associated with poor results were not uncommon.

A speech made by our then Principal still inspires me. In a school ceremony to honour toppers, he spoke emphatically about not taking results to heart if they weren’t what we expected. Tomorrow was another day, he stressed.

A moment of honest reflection tells me I probably would have got a kick out of seeing my photograph in the newspaper had I been a ‘topper’, but it also threw up glimpses of a carefree 15-year-old for whom life meant much more than a marksheet.

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