By Neel Anil Panicker
As he began the test all words and ideas fled from his mind. The screen in front of him began popping up one question after another. Nothing registered.
Arnab stared, his face a blank, at the computer screen.
All he could see were grainy images, letters and words, all indecipherable.
The words of his English teacher hammered into his ears. ‘REMEMBER, THE EXAM IS A MIND GAME…KEEP YOUR CALM…READ THE PASSAGES CAREFULLY…SEARCH FOR THE CENTRAL IDEA…HUNT FOE KEY WORD INDICATORS…”
Nothing registered. Nothing entered his minscape. Forget about the central idea, Arnab was unable to decipher the meaning of simple words such as instigate, nimble, strife…words such as these; also those that were ten times much more difficult, he had mastered and was able to roll off his tongue without so much as batting an eyelid.
In desperation he looked at the top right end of the rectangular screen.
The digital click added salt to his wounds. It read 15:22. He scratched his head in desperation. Hot beads of sweat began to trickle down his spine.
He had expended a quarter of the allotted time without solving even a single question.
“Wake up, you asshole. Come on…concentrate…it’s your big day…do or die…his mind chided him.
As if rudely brought back to reality, Arnab rubbed his eyes, and then, hunched forward, and buried his head onto the screen.
And that’s where he stayed till the loud booming voice of the supervisor announced that the examination was over.
As he crawled our of the jam packed hall, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“How was it, buddy?”, Gaurav, his classmate, also his bete noire asked, a sarcastic smile playing on the latter’s lips.
Arnab just shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
A month hence, when the results were announced, he found that he had topped the examinations.
The words of his favourite English teacher ricocheted off his ears: “At times a little bit of tension does aid one’s sixth sense.”
All Arnab could do was smile at the memory.
#neelanilpanicker #fiction #shortstory #flash
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