Thursday, February 28, 2013

Out of time

Have you given an exam where you know little? You can't say you know nothing, because you have read something, but you don't expect yourself to excel at the test.

The test kicks off and you go around fiddling with the paper; turning it over, looking for the questions that you think you can solve. You don't solve them right away, but you just glance through them to make you feel you know something, which turns out to be very little. So, you start writing; trying out the simple ones first,  trying hard not to falter. You don't want to be the loser who couldn't even get the simple ones right! You take your time, you work them out slowly, you check and then re-check. The goal? Maximize the marks you can get. While you are solving the easy ones, your brain takes the liberty to wander off. You start thinking about the fun you are going to have after the test, you start thinking of all that lies after and it lightens you up.

Half the time is up and you are barely done with the questions you truly know, when it starts sinking into you that this test is important. You begin contemplating the consequences of a low score on this one. Even the thought of the aftereffects are scary and you might actually have to live with it! Panic strikes and takes over. There's despair and few moments of self-vituperation for not being serious about it before, not being serious about it until now! You start hoping for a miracle; you hope against all hope that you come out of this test victorious and not a failure.

And the miracle does happen! You look down at the paper and the questions you couldn't make sense of start looking solvable, parts of the book and the few classes that you attended start hovering in front of your eyes and you know you can save yourself. You want to wait and smile at this sudden transition, this moment of enlightenment, but there's no time for that; you have to squeeze out every second left. You look back at the clock to see how much time is left and you can't keep yourself from silently uttering "F**k". You would like to get up and accept that you are the stupidest man in the room, but there's no time for that. You put pen to paper and start writing, writing whatever comes to your mind, stopping only to look at the clock and wonder if the clock suddenly decided to go faster.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. You can hear the clock and your pulse; are they in rhythm? Is the clock actually going that fast? You don't have time to wait, there's just under ten minutes left. If you had time, you would have wondered why a man is judged by what he writes in those 3 hours. If you had time, you would wonder why the humans didn't evolve to be able to share through electromagnetic waves; that way your speed won't limit your success. But you can't think about it because there's simply no time. Every moment spent thinking and not writing, every eye movement spent checking the time left, every moment spent turning pages and every other moment spent not reproducing your thought seems a waste.

Too much to do and too little time! Now you don't even need to look at the clock, you know it's better to just carry on writing. You lift your head up as you think and look write back at the paper as you realize that invigilators have started agitating. You catch a glimpse of your peers. Some have given up and are waiting for it to end. Some are putting down their final words. Some are going through their answers looking for mistakes. But some, like you, are furiously writing, writing as fast as their body will allow. In them, you seek camaraderie. You know you are not alone, but tremendously outnumbered.

Too much to do and too little time before the time is up! If you know how those final moments feel like, you know how I feel to have just 2 months left before my final semester ends.