Your exam results will soon be a memory, so chill

My CBSE results came out sixteen years ago. I just calculated.



by

Nivriti Butalia

Published: Mon 28 May 2018, 10:15 PM

Last updated: Tue 29 May 2018, 2:23 PM

We had a dial-up internet connection at home in Delhi. The one that grew into a crescendo and sounded like crickets were having a religious experience. My parents weren't in town. They'd wished me luck, with instructions to keep them posted, and had toodled off for a holiday to the UK for a regimental do. My father (ex-Army) had to give a speech at the House of Commons. This was, by far, a much bigger deal in our household than one kid's exam results. Evidently, they weren't one of those fretting parents, sitting on my head, egging me to aim higher, and for this, I am thankful.

May or June 2002, it must have been. Delhi heat. Cooler khus. Mangoes. Swimming, long summer days. The relaxed company of my grandparents. It was a good summer. And I was largely left to my devices

On the evening of the results, my grandparents' friend, Joneja Uncle, had made me promise that I would ring him and Gargi Aunty first thing in the morning to let them know how I'd done. Star or duffer? What was it going to be? The dice had yet to be rolled.

As the hour of the results approached, post dinner, my nerves began to jangle. The results were to be put up online at midnight. At 10pm, a thunderstorm started. I was paranoid that those wretched internet cables would snap and I wouldn't know how I had done. I would have had to wait, till the next morning, and get on a bus or an autorickshaw (auto) to school, to the notice board, and run my finger down some long streams of printouts in search of my full name and roll number. And then, what if I'd failed? How would I drag my feet back home? What would I say?

That night, at home, sitting at the computer table, I kept hitting the 'enter' key to see if I was going to have to repeat the year. I had taken Physical Education (Phys. Ed) as a back-up to Math because my Math teacher, whose favourite line was: "Beta, look at your mental level", had thought it a good idea for me to have insurance.

The thunderstorm didn't wreck the internet cables. I was able to log in. I kept refreshing the CBSE page. On the website, you entered a roll number, and just waited for the page to load. After several tries - how many thousands must have also been hitting the enter key- I got my "mark sheet". Immediate feelings: relief, pride. I laughed. I could call Joneja uncle and sound light, sound happy. When my parents would ring first thing in the morning, they would be excited. My father would say, "Well done, child".
Now, truth be told, and compared to all the geniuses, this even then was far, far from a brilliant result. But it was okay. I would be able to study English Literature in Delhi University, the plan then.

I had passed Math. That had weighed on my otherwise lovely summer. I was thrilled that I had marks in every "range" - 90s, 80s, 70s, 60s, 50s, and fine - Math - 40s. The 90s? I topped my batch in Business Studies, and no one in my family could explain this.

One day, weeks later, I visited school and went to pay my respects to Seema Sharma, my BS teacher. She made me stand in front of the classroom facing her new batch of 11th graders. I was beaming. SS said, "Look at this girl, I assure you, if she can top, any of you can". For years, that backhanded whatever it was made me flinch. I don't think it's the way to encourage a 17-year-old. But who cared? I was not in the red. I would be getting a college education after all. And with every passing year, the first job and second job and third, it would matter less and less that I got 76 per cent in my 12th boards. Hooray for Phys. Ed!

- nivriti@khaleejtimes.com 


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