BENGALURU : Since I do not have a day job, I spend my afternoons writing by a window. As I navigate my day through work, distractions, and YouTube, I have a natural alarm clock. As soon as the clock hits 4 pm, children get down from buses and run screaming into their houses. The next two hours are spent amidst competing cricket leagues and games where children chase each other without a motive.
I have gotten used to the noise and have accommodated the noise into my itinerary, with a break at 4 pm.
Over the last few weeks, the voices of mothers calling their children home isn’t audible anymore. That is when it struck me - it is the season of Board Exams. Every year, unknown relatives and obscure well-wishers around the country torture 15-year olds about the Board Exam. The hype for the exams begins much before the actual exam. Like soldiers preparing for war, children are told of the importance of the exam, and the dangers of not taking the exams seriously.
Like charity, the change begins at home. ‘Cable’ is disconnected, and access to mobile phones and tablets are removed. Siblings in the house are instructed not to interfere in the studies. But this is not all. The school, a place where friends have studied together for nearly a decade, is divided on the basis of grades. The course is finished months in advance, and preparatory exams are launched. The next few months fly by in a flurry of guide-books and question papers.
I find the hype around Board Exams extremely disturbing. The exams are always explained to children as the ‘final frontier’. ‘Concentrate for the next few months’, they are told. ‘You have the rest of your life to enjoy!’. But that is a trap. In two years, they are told to take the 12th standard Board Exams seriously, followed by graduation, and jobs and then marriage and children. The utopia of ‘enjoying later’ never really arrives. In a few years, the teenagers will grow up and realise that these were in fact, the best years of their lives.
The memory of Board Exams brings back nightmares for Yours Truly. I was given examples of kids who did not fare well, and were working in tea-stalls on highways. Rather than motivation, I was driven by fear. My desire to be a writer featured nowhere in the options that were given to me -
‘Science or Commerce?’
If you are a teenager going through the Board Exams, I have a few words of advice. Enjoy the next few months. The results will be declared in a month’s time, and you will part from your friends, only to meet them years later - when you have a paunch and/or a receding hairline. Don’t worry about the results, for what’s done is done.
If you have performed well, congratulations! If you haven’t, don’t fret over it. The world has enough space for people who don’t excel at 15. The world is a wide, wild space and there will be time for you to find your passion and marry it. In a week’s time, the exams will come to an end. Children will spring out of their homes in the afternoon and scream their lungs out. The world will move on, irrespective of your result in the Board Exams. The important thing to remember is, there is ‘enjoy later’.
(The author is a writer and comedian)