The March Monster

It’s been a while since I’ve written something, so before I begin doing what it is that I usually do, I’d like to first apologize for the inconsistency, and thank you for the support.  So, March.  March in many countries in the Northern Hemisphere is the birth of Spring, such a joyous time of the year.  However, in less seasonally differentiated countries, especially India, March is the time of the monsters.  March is the time of the year when kids we expect to rule the nation in years to come grip their guts in fear, feeling the wrench their abdomens.  Yes, I’m talking about the board exams that usually arrive, take everything by storm and leave back a humongous pile of confused teenagers in its wake.

Let me explain.  The education system in India is very definitive.  It begins at 40 (35 in some cases) and ends at 100.  There are two things the education system in India is utterly intent on, currency and proficiency.  If you have the currency, good school.  If you have a good school, good proficiency.  So basically, in all its simple effectiveness, currency = good school = good marks.  You can easily stop me right here and ask me why it works this way in this country, or that I’m wrong and there are exceptions and so many other things, and I agree.  There are always exceptions to things.  But in general, what I’ve said stands.  I’m sure we’re in unison.  I could also prove to you that my assumption is at least 60% authentic, but I’ll have to write a mini series of articles about the same.  Let’s just stick to the basics and do what we always do, believe in the things we read.  Indian education system for the win!

Now that we’ve established that this is the way things work in this country, let’s talk about how the recipients of March Madness feel.  These people come out of their Mothers’ wombs all prepared to face the many blessings good earth is going to bestow upon them.  Then they grow up and get put into schools.  The school teaches them, instructs them how to live their lives because there IS no alternate way of life.  I mean, how blasphemous would it be to stand out in a group of friends and do what you believe in!  I would never forgive myself.  So this phase passes, and they reach tenth grade.  The CBSE has obviously moved on from this phase in a show of progressive development and adapted a new method of evaluation, the CCE (Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation).  What does this mean?  Only one thing.  A student who usually ended up in a fierce petrificus totalus spell during the months of March and April now ends up having to take up pressure throughout the academic year.  Well done, CBSE.  And having been the first to experience everything sucky and new about the Indian Education system, my batch can vouch for everything I’ve said up until now, and probably the things I’m about to say as we move on as well.  The tenth standard boards are generally cake walk for most of us, because we’re already told what to expect in the examinations.  You pass out of that phase and you have to pick a major.  What do I do?  Do I go science?  Do I go computers?  Do I go mathematics and accounts and commerce and anything else but physics, chemistry and biology?  Or do I just sit down and cry with the rest of them?  About a year after making this choice, welcome to the world of pain that is grade twelve in India.  Day minus one of school and your parents can’t shut the hell up about the importance of this year.  Day one of school and your principal and teachers can’t shut the hell up about the importance of this year. By day three, you’re like a piece of metal held in place by a lathe chuck.  As the boards approach, more classes, more homework, more assignments, more tests, more pressure.  I remember clenching my guts and barfing all over the bathroom floor not because of my fear of examinations, but for the dreadful Lochness monster everyone made it out to be.  So, the Kraken is unleashed.  You go through a month of absolute hell at school, at home, at your tuition, in your mind, everywhere.  Then you wait for results, and that, believe me is a different kind of hell.  This is when you have to start preparing for your college entrances.  Come on, you’ve just had ONE year of pressure, here’s some more.  YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO SLIP UP AND END UP IN SOME RANDOM COLLEGE.  IT HAS TO BE IIT OR NIT OR IIM OR BITS OR ELSE YOUR LIFE IS OVER.  This is the part where I’d like to interject and throw in some advice, whether it’s being considered or not.

You’ve done your exams.  Take a breather.  Do not care for what people have to say, because we were made with tongues that cannot not roll and speak words.  Take some time to yourself, find your own peace palace, concentrate on what you love most.  Life does not end with your twelfth board exams.  Trust me when I tell you that.  I wasn’t an A-lister coming out of high school, but look at me, I’ve done quite decently for myself four years later.  Now’s the time the world really opens up to you.  Now’s the time the world is literally your mantle.  So many opportunities, so many experiences, so many clueless situations, multiple suggestions.  If you can open up your mind to these infinite possibilities, I swear to God, you will never feel sorry for having done so.  I didn’t.  I want everyone who’s reading to.  Relax a bit.  Take time to make a decision about your future, and do not let a couple of digits shape who you really are.  As I said, what is life but a million opportunities crumpled up in unrecognizable clusters?  Recognize your cluster, grab it, unwrap it and find your beacon of solace.  Be your own true self.  Peace out.

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