"In our days, we used to read 12 hours a day. A person getting low marks was considered an untouchable!" Granny started lecturing.
This had become an everyday routine. Granny started to deliver speeches about 'her days' especially when Jay was having his breakfast.
His father came out of the pooja room after performing his elaborate daily rituals, clad in a white dhoti and a cloth covering his upper body.
"God knows how he became like this! The whole of the family is well-known for its brilliance and he remains as a dud-head!" attacked his father.
Jay began to curse the day for being a holiday. By this time, he had finished his breakfast. He washed his hands and started outside.
"Jay, we are playing cricket. Why don't you join us?" asked Ram.
"No Ram, I have to study."
"YOU! And STUDY? It is almost like oil and water!"
"Ok, what about the film plan this weekend?"
"No, Ram. I won't go anywhere until I finish my exams."
"I hope it's not full moon today!"
"No jokes please! I'm already fed up of getting low marks in exams.
"Oh Ok. How have you prepared for the exams?" asked Ram.
"Somewhat! That Vikram sir has given us one heck of a portion and to our ill-fate; his subject has to be the first exam!"
Jay stood in front of his house, gazing at it. He had been in the same house for more than 12 years.
"Oh! Jay! Come in! Why are you shy to come in to your own house? Oh! You've grown so tall!" a voice came from inside the house.
It was Pushpa aunty, the most irritating aunty Jay had ever seen.
"She had visited us just last month and God knows why she came again!" cursed Jay."She must've certainly bragged about her wonder-son Anil and my great mom is sure to be clean-bowled by his supernatural antics!" thought Jay.
"See Jay, Pushpa Aunty has come. And, she has brought good news for you. Her son Anil is going to stay with you for the next 2 days!" said Jay's mom.
Jay saw Anil sitting next to Pushpa aunty with a bag on his lap, smiling in a hideous manner.
Jay thought of saying "God forbid! I'd better be killed rather than stay with this moron!" But he said helplessly, "Oh, great!"
"At least they will be able to study together" said Jay's mom.
"Oh! Of course! Anil is also a great teacher! You won't believe it, but, he helps even his seniors!" said Pushpa aunty.
"God help me! A snake bite would be better than being taught by this godforsaken boy!" thought Jay.
Jay saw Anil, who was smiling with pride, and thought "May street dogs bite him!"
"So Jay, when are your exams starting?" asked Pushpa aunty.
Jay wanted to say "Why do you want to know?" but somehow gulped it and blurted, "Next week"
"Oho! Then you must be preparing well for this time, I guess?" asked Pushpa aunty.
"Yes. He is preparing well for this time. He was up the whole of the night studying!" entered Jay's mom.
"I don't know how mom got Pushpa aunty's disease!" thought Jay. "She is lying even though she knows that I spent the night watching T.V!" reflected Jay. He was confused. "But why does she scold me for not studying when I am alone and praise me when someone has come to the house?"
By then, the topic was changed to modern schooling. Jay thought it was the perfect time to slip away silently.
Jay came out of the hall and went straight to the kitchen. He went on rummaging through the containers in the kitchen to find something to eat.
All of a sudden, he remembered that he had to complete a class work which had to be submitted the next day.
"Children, I expect that you all have been preparing well for the forthcoming exams. And, I expect that all of you will be able to pass with flying colors. God bless you." concluded the principle of the school.
Jay stood in a corner of the assembly, with his friends Ram and Ismail. The trio was famous for their 'extra-ordinary' talent.
Jay's teacher came from somewhere, asking "What Jay? Planning to get low marks once again, huh?" in a sarcastic manner.
"Saar..." replied Jay in an awkward manner, not knowing what to say.
Just then, the office boy called the teacher, and Jay was saved.
Prayer ended. All of them had to be back in the class.
The first period was taken by Murti Sir, the most confused teacher of the school. He handled Social Studies for Jay's class.
"Children, a week more left for the exams. And then, you all will be free birds. Try to concentrate for at least one week, especially on Social. The papers are going to be tough. You'll have to be ferfect (perfect) in each and everything in the textbook."
The children responded to this with no interest. Somehow, the first period was over and slowly, the schooling for the day was done.
"Ma, I need your help IMMEDIATELY!" shouted Jay from his room. He wished to read seriously for the next few days.
"Tell me what help you need?"
"Get that table for me" said Jay, pointing to an old stool.
Mom got it and placed it near him, and Jay took a few books from his study and arranged them according to their size.
Then, he dusted the study, cleaned and arranged all the things in the study.
By the end of the day Jay had finished his cleaning. He sat in front of this text books to study, but soon fell asleep!
Jay resolved to be a studious boy for another one week. He woke up at 5am every day, a surprise for his mom and dad; he also stayed away from his friends and mainly Anil who was accompanying him for two days.
All students had become reading machines, even during free periods, Jay was either doing Math or was trying to mug up Science answers.
Jay was becoming serious day by day when there was just two days for the exams; he started paying a visit to the nearby Ganesha temple. Even though he didn't know any of the sacred verses, he kept on muttering something.
Finally, the day came. Jay woke up early in the morning, had his bath in cold water and went to the tulsi pot in front of the house. He was dripping and was circumnambulating the plant. His parents were seeing him as if the eighth wonder was happening in front of their eyes. They did not utter a word as they did not want to spoil his mood on the exam day.
Jay was now ready to set off to school. He checked his bag just to make sure he had not forgotten anything. After all the preliminary checks, he went to his parents, who were sitting on the sofa and prostrated in front of them to get their blessings. Without waiting for their further reaction he started towards school.
While going on the road, he recalled all the answers he had mugged up late last night. It seemed like piece of cake for him. He felt happy now. All the last minute efforts were not a waste after all. Before he realised, he had reached the school.
Jay entered his school. He found out his room and sat at the assigned place. He looked around and saw Ram and Ismail sitting the in a corner of the exam hall. Before he could speak to them, the inspecting teacher had already entered the hall.
The answer sheets were given. The question paper was yet to be distributed. Jay was humming the tune of a recent block buster movie. Finally, the question paper was given, Jay tried to concentrate on writing the answers. But, the tune kept repeating in his mind.
After a while, Jay got up and asked for an additional sheet. Suddenly, the students present in the room saw him with great astonishment as if he had committed a blunder.
In almost an hour, Jay had finished his exam. He gave his answer paper to the teacher and came out of the exam hall. Jay was happy with his performance.
The next few days were subtle. There was a sense of calmness present in Jay. According to him he had performed well in the exams.
Doomsday came, at last. He was with his mother. They entered the school which was bustling with children and their parents who had come to attend the parent-teacher meeting. The confidence Jay had in him about the exams had suddenly disappeared.
They made their way to the class and the teacher invited them. The teacher began "I am very happy with his performance. I knew that he would surely get good marks in these exams, because I had taught him with extra care." This was the teacher who had asked Jay whether he would get low marks before the exams.
Jay was surprised at the sudden transformation of his teacher. It seemed as if the teacher was taking credit for Jay's success.
By then, Jay had got his marks card in his hand. Jay thought it was needless to open the marks card now. Jay's mom snatched the marks card from his hand and opened the card herself with a big smile on her face...
The very next day, early morning, a shout came from Jay's mom "Jay, wake up! You have to study hard to maintain this level. Just imagine, if you could score such marks by studying in the last minute, how much you can score by studying the whole year sincerely!"
"Ufff! Did I make any mistake by scoring good marks? How much pressure can I handle? Am I a Pressure Cooker?" reflected Jay.....
[Bindusaara is a student of St.Joseph's PU College, Bengaluru.]