When someone let the CAT out of the bag
By Neel Anil Panicker
Examinations are a load or a breeze. That’s depending on which side of the academic scale you tilt.
For a serious student of life such as yours truly, it means a welcome release after months of burning the proverbial midnight oil, lying awake through days and nights coding, uncoding, and then decoding a near endless array of bewildering permutations and combinations, hoping to get bat through as many of the trickier than tricky bouncers (read questions!) that the head honchos that govern the test aim to throw at you at speeds that would put to shame the fastest of bowlers of world cricket.
And so it was the other day when I found myself inching into a rather expansive second floor examination hall located quite ironically in a mid-sized mall in a godforsaken back of beyond location some 50 kilometres away from sweet home.
The jostling continued but this time the shoulders gave way for cubicles as I found myself staring at a computer screen that steadfastly refused to wink back at me.
Humour was not its forte, I guessed.
I craned my neck left and right and saw only eyes, all eager and expectant. The future of the country, smilingly ready to put their collective heads on the chopping block.
And then the screen sprang to life, whispering start.
The race had begun and the Usain Bolts of the world began to run.
Thereafter, it was non-stop bombardment as question after question popped out of the funny looking screen made even smaller by the enclosed lines within which played out the jumbled, contorted and even twisted world of sweat inducing near unsolvable questions.
Finally, after a tortuous (and might I add torturous) three hour ordeal that I would wish the best of my enemies), the ordeal ended as I bid goodbye to the last of the questions.
The reverse troop down started and I joined the teeming mass of IIM aspirants on the outside, their facial expressions and bodily contractions and contortions conveying the entire gamut of human emotions ranging from the downright crestfallen to the supremely elated.
I looked around just in time to find my friend Harish, ambling towards me, his face squeezed in like a three-day-old mashed potato.
“Guess what, the paper has been leaked”
The words hit me like a ten tonne brick.
I blinked and stared into his face__ a sorry mash of fallen hopes. The mock test all India topper was understandably crestfallen.
A whirlpool of myriad images began to badger my mind.
Sheer darkness enveloped all over me.
The collateral damage to my CAT preparations over the past eight months had been immense.
A quick mental calculation brought out the losses:
Total man hours spent studying: 1800 (averaged over the past one year)
Girl friends left: Fifteen (Eight at the preparatory stages, two at base camp, seven at second stage, and three at the summit__well, almost)
Parties missed: twelve (including five outstation trips, with one to that land of utopia, Goa)
A flurry of noises brought me back to terra firma.
“Aree, bach gaye yaar”, shouted out a bunch of students.
They seem to have just managed to survive . Tomorrow is just another day.
I let out a smile.
Hopefully, next time around, they will be better prepared.
And, hopefully, there will be no more leaks.
As for me, I am going for a leak, right now.
(A first person account of an IIM aspirant)