Scene 1: Outside the Balak Vihar Vidyalaya High school (My SSC centre)…In March 1998, under the blaring sun; here I was, with 8 pages clutched in my hand and pacing back and forth in front of the school gates…. On those 8 pages were dates, printed front and back…… Before anyone gets me wrong because of the above statement…. Explicit mention just to clarify things…. I hadn’t started dating so early in life and I don’t think with the guys in my school; the number of dates would have been so high….. It was the History exam for SSC board and those papers included all the dates in our textbook that I had scribbled away to glory… Nah!!! Trust me…. This was not my favorite pastime back then….. It was, actually for a very silly 2 mark question no 1 – C in this paper, I distinctly remember, that I had put in so much effort….. In my defense (so that I don’t sound geeky and loserly), those days we were told that 2 marks were very important in this exam…. They could make or break your career….. So this marathon effort…. Now back to my scene…. I was busy rattling off dates in the air… Quit India movement – 1942…. Gandhiji went on a fast – 19XX (it’s humanly impossible to remember that after so many years…) Gandhiji protested at Lahore – 19XX, Gandhiji presided over the Indian National Congress meeting – 19XX….. A parallel thought occurred to me….. Man!!!! Gandhiji was a busy!!!! He did so many things in life… I appreciate all he did but couldn't he just leave the 10th textbooks alone…. I mean did he have to write about everything he did and when he did in those books….. 16 years ki jaan and 1600 dates yaad karne ko …. Its blatant extortion of children’s brains…. Thought interrupted….. Mithila comes, same confused look borne by her as by all the students present there…. “Shamu, civil disobedience movement chya veli, kiti national congress chya meeting jhalya hotya???? Aani kuthe????...” and then both of us tried to rattle off the answer…. We used to call this discussing, in the days of the yore :)….
Scene 2: Inside the classroom….
Finally the moment of truth arrives…. The paper just one bench away…. I got it… started to write vigorously….. Question 1 A – fill in the blanks…. Cake walk…. Question 1 B – match the columns….. Man could it be any simpler….. And then the question for which I had taken so many pains….. It was a record that since the inception of this question in our syllabus, I never got it correct…. So I was more determined than ever to get it right this time… after all I had written 8 pages and I had read thru them enough number of times… (For me that time, ‘rataoing’ was the best form of studying :)…well there was nothing to understand in these dates anyway….) so these were the 4 dates our of the zillion I had written…. First session of national congress…. Gandhiji on some vague fast…. And some 2 other things… the gray matter refuses to help me in this case…. I thought and I finally decided on one order…. No no, this fast was for this movement which was after this session…. Oh… and here came some new order…. Tried to make a mental image of those 8 papers….. I just wanted to see the order of dates there in those papers (they were in chronological order you see)….. May be this new order….. I really think those 8 pages helped me…. Coz later in my life, mathematics taught me that there could be 4! = 24 arrangements for that question…. And I had only around 8 in my hand….. :) It was getting difficult….. “It’s fine!!! Don’t panic shamu…” I told myself….. “Come back and do it later….” After that followed a string of give reasons… answers in brief…. Answer in one sentence…. Etc…. History section done, I came back again to my conundrum….. Looked at it yet again…. First order seemed correct… Was about to write that order when a new dimension presented itself….. Panic… Anxiety…. Stress….. “After civics section” I consoled myself…. I couldn't let those 2 marks go now, could I??? Civics section tackled… some parliament related gyaan….. Done with ease and speed…. Went back to the only question left…. 10 min more for exam to get over…. Please God!!! Why isn’t this clicking….. Gandhiji #1@%$$!#..... History
@#!$$^!..... Ok ok…. Last 5 minutes…. Finally entered the answer….. The first order itself….
Scene 3: Outside the gate… after the paper…
“Ae Mithila, ti order kay hoti ga????” She said,”I think ABDC” (or something like that which wasn’t what I wrote….) “Oh, mala vatala ADCB….” Finally when the results came, I know I had messed up the order….. History marks obtained gave a clear indication of this…. :(
Scene 4: My desktop as I am writing this!!!!
Now sitting here, I am wondering whether that incident made even an iota of a difference in my life. I am doing just about the same thing as I would have done if I would have got those 2 marks more…. And even more than now, HISTORY still remains a mystery for me…. I mean no disrespect to our great leaders….. In fact, I am a proponent of their greatness for what they went through…. The torture, the pains, the struggle….. I am not sure if I could do anything like that if I was present then…. There are no words that can express how grateful I am to them for the freedom they gave me…. Also I am smart enough to know the power of history on present….. The fact that there is democracy, use of English, rights/duties… everything is due to history and I am not ignorant of that….. But in spite of all this, one question still puzzles me…. What was the purpose achieved by knowing when Gandhiji broke his umpteenth fast…. Or for that matter who was the first viceroy of India???? How knowing this fact affecting me??? Knowledge is power but this power is helpful only in certain quizzes (though they form a set of very rarely asked questions)… and I am definitely not a quizzer…. Then why god why did I waste that time….. If I had been so wisdomous then (I am assuming I am one now…), may be I would have had many hours of peace….. I mean can you fathom the amount of time saved if I did not have to make that 8 page document (front and back)…. And to add to my woes, get everything wrong…. Which led to added time wasted, cribbing about getting the things wrong……
Hopefully this will prod the readers (especially those in tenth) not to waste such valuable time in life on those 2 marks :) a valuable lesson learnt I say… :))