EXAMINATION MANIA HITS INDIA
By Neel Anil Panicker
Her’s a quick quiz. Which one month of the year is it when the blood pressure levels of parents with school going kids in India touch the roof?
You guessed that correctly. It’s March but of course. March is that one interminably long month when it is examination time all over India for students, especially for those who are appearing for their all important 10th and 12 Board papers.
Yes, the Ides of March strikes big time this third calendar month whether one’s kid is appearing, has appeared, or will be appearing for their ‘life making’ examinations.
So, is this period tension time, or fun time? Well, a bit of both, or maybe midway between the two?
It all depends on what demographic category you belong to__ a male parent, a female parent, a male or female parent with one child, a male or female parent with twins, both of whom appearing for the exams, or a male or female parent with two or three children, at least one of whom has already appeared, one is to appear this year, and the other the next year.
So here’s the drama unfolds on D-day.
DAY ONE, 8 AM: I and my better half am standing outside the school gates with kiddie dear and all I see around me are hordes of parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and of course school children in their monochromatic uniforms, the ubiquitous bags strapped to their shoulders, albeit relatively less light.
Like mice the children are being herded inside the school compound while outside the parents, in groups of threes and fours huddle around, the women to one corner, the men to the other___all talking in low voices, a few even gone silent, each one of them taken in by the solemnity of the occasion.
8:30am : The students troop out of the main hall and are led to the school bus that awaits them, ready to transport them to their examination centre, which incidentally is a good seven kilometres away.
“Thank God for this service. Otherwise how would the children have gone everyday to such as far off centre”, says a parent to be immediately retorted by another, “Till last year it was easy as the students had to just to walk across to Bal Bharati, referring to the school that’s a hop, skip, and jump away.
8:45am : Anxious crease lines appear on more than a few mothers’ faces as the bus slowly edges its way out of the school gates. A flurry of quick bye byes are exchanged from half open windows as I hear more than gasp from the crowd of guardians.
“Where’s Rajat. Is he in the bus. I can’t see him”, half cries out a woman.
“He’s inside. Where else can he be. I saw my son go in. They are best friends, you no. Don’t worry, ” assures another.
We watch as the bus hits the road and takes a bend.
“It’s going from the Ghazipur side. That place stinks worse than a pig. Why can’t the driver take the regular route via Mother Dairy?”, shrieks out another parent even as she grandly declares that she is going to the centre.
That was it; an impromptu decision is made and everyone hops onto to one or the others’ cars, bikes, or whatever means of transportation.
9:15 am: We are standing outside the massive gates of Plato Public School, the CBSE allotted centre for the students of Salwan Public School. We are al happy again, having united with the children. The kids are now huddled to a corner, exchanging last minute notes, while their parents stand guard, respectfully standing a few feet away, discussing amongst themselves, trying in vain to ease out their worries.
9: 45 am: The subject teacher elbows her way past the choc-o- bloc crowd and reaches upto to her wards for some last advice.
“Stay calm. Do all the questions in a sequence. Be mindful of time, too”, she speaks out, her voice an epitome of calmness.
10 am: The gates open and one by one the students troop in but not before they are kissed, hugged and served ample dozes of “best wishes” by the anxious parents.
10:30 am The exams commence while outside the parents await. A few women have retreated to a corner and started chanting, their voices breaking out in silent prayers, their eyes half closed, the fingers of their hands joined together as if reciting indecipherable Sanskrit shlokas.
Others too hang around and having nothing better to do discuss the importance of the Board exams.
“Remember, even today, wherever one goes, they ask you for your School Certificate as proof of your date of birth. It is that important. Others nod in acquiescence.
11: 30 am: The throng of parents and kith And kin has thinned. Most of them have gone but promises of coming back in an hour.
“ It’s a three hour exam. It’s better to go now and an hour or so. Now there destiny is on God’s hands,” one parents almost wails out, a tad philosophically.
All of us concur and leave for the time being with promises to meet shortly.
For us, the battle has just begun; the war is not yet over.
#NEELANILPANICKER #CBSE #SALWANPUBLICSCHOOL #BOARDS #STUDENTS #ESSAY #NON-FICTION