I proctored an exam today. There were about 100 students and the exam was both difficult and lengthy.The stress of the exam aside, the instructor has built many levels of policies to prevent the serendipitous deliquent from a sneak peek and also to neutralize any incentive to cheat for the professional scammer. While the students were trying to put up their best acts of honesty, it was pathetic to see them sweat over the simple question that was twisted beyond recognition and glide over the most tedious of problems with ease as if by rote.
I remembered my school days, when I had exams in all the subjects every other week. Humour me, but I did not like such an arrangement. I was not sadistic enough to plough through books to prove my mirth every fortnight, only to realize that the life thus proved has painfully taken away every one of my happy childhood days. I was not an obedient student, not punctual, mostly dirty and talkative. Nevertheless, in a vague attempt to salvage my image here, I will not stoop to mention my greatness in my later years. This said, I had a very happy childhood, because I did not like exams. An exam is a repressive concept designed to reduce children's dream to a number with a vain validation scheme. Exams are for the weak and kids with abusive parents.
Expectedly, I have failed in exams, innumerable times, in Tamil, Math and even Science which happens to be the love of my life. I simply failed to acknowledge a system that was solely built on prodding a child by publicizing exam performance among friendly peers in the name of Ranks, to learn a subject without relevance or importance.
It reminds me of an incident that happened about 15 years back. The boy next in roll and I used to collaborate and cheat in the exams for mutual benefit. We gamed the system that reeked of autocracy. It worked very well because the teachers trusted in the two puppy faced kids like us, and believed would never cheat. The crowning reason was that, since we both performed similarly and not too poorly the teachers had no reason to doubt our honesty.
On this eventful day of English exam, there was a story to comprehend and write a moral for. Right now, I do not remember the story at all, but a striking feature of that story was the incomprehensible moral. In those days stories had morals, unlike my posts. I just could not understand the moral of the story, and so wrote "moral" in a tiny piece of paper and dropped it for him to pick up and help me with this mysterious morality. A girl in class, who apparently had been looking at me all the while, (must have had a crush on me) reported this parchment dropping phenomenon to the proctor. This was utterly unexpected because I had checked the radar before dropping the piece of paper. The proctor frisked me and a meter radius around me, almost badmouthed the 10 year old whistle blower for unnecessary trouble. But in a weird twist of fate, just like a Tamil ghost movie where the most curious cute girl always gets axed the second time she looks in the dark closet, the proctor found it near my leg the next time she turned.
I went through a procedure, fit for pickpockets in the police station. I had heard of students getting expelled for such acts. The fear of getting expelled from the school, mixed with the thought of letting my parents know of my scholastic deliquency was quite daunting. Actually that is the only reason I remembered this incident and this friend of mine. But everything turned out fine: my parents never came to know about this and we were both not expelled from school because we were not one of the psycho kids. I guess they knew that we were just confused kids, and atleast one would stay so for the next couple of decades.
In all of this, neither did I learn the moral of that English story, nor of the incident. But my dear partner in crime recently got married, and I wish him all the best.