This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Farha Salim. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“Not Everyone Is Born A JEE-nius”: How I Gained A Lot More When I Failed To Crack IIT

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By Farha Salim:

The awful odour of cut onions filled the room. I did not know what hurt my eyes more. The cut onions or the chemistry question paper that lay half torn in my hands. Writing the Class XII CBSE Board exams and getting 90% was itself a mammoth task . Repeating it in 2016 to improve my All India Rank in JEE Mains sounded much worse.

With the much hyped about JEE Mains Exam coming up in the 1st week of April, like most other JEE aspirants, I too was in a hurry to search for other alternatives and back up plans, just in case I didn’t make it through JEE .

“Why did I choose this path?” a question I have been asking myself, still unable to find a satisfactory answer. It is a still-cherished childhood dream to walk through the corridors of ISRO, the path once trodden by many who took India to glory. Aiming for an integrated BS-MS Physics course, I decided to drop a valuable year and ended up being just another one among lakhs of JEE aspirants, in some corner of India, trying to analyse and apply the fundamental concepts we all had been carelessly learning for the past 2 years.

Unfortunately, staying up late was not my thing. And I’ve never been an early bird all my life. While one half of my near and dear ones advised me saying that science was not my thing, the other half asked me to chase my dream. Those who advised me to close the doors of science wanted me to pursue the path of literature.

As for my mind, it was a tennis ball that was being tossed between two courts. Every time I prepared myself and took one path, I seemed to land up in the other. I guess I had been going in circles for the past 3 years. Endless calls to my best friend, every time I felt upside down, was a huge relief. The only benefit was the fact that my friend too was running the race along with me, though neither of us seemed to make much progress.

With the corridors of coaching centres and hostels echoing the fascinating theories of classical and quantum mechanics, a whole year rushed by so fast unnoticed by most students. While those who knew the importance of IITs appreciated my decision to spend a year for JEE preparation, many others frequently asked the question I dreaded most, “Why waste a year for engineering entrance? Why not medicine?” Here in Kerala, the highest privilege is to study for MBBS, it doesn’t matter if one has spent a crore on the fees too. One keeps count of the dates only to realise with fear how many days remain for D-day. The dawn, dusk, dreams and nightmares, everything apparently spelt 3 letters: J-E-E!

But for one moment, like Pablo Neruda said, if we all ‘kept quiet’, closed the problems of Physics and Mathematics, opened our eyes to the world we live in, we would realise how lucky we are. Of course, it is a tough race, this JEE, but there is a life beyond that; in case we don’t make it, it is not a dead end. Perhaps we might get another chance, a detour to our dreams. Perhaps later we might realise it was a good thing we didn’t clear JEE, because life has an uncanny way of surprising us!

No matter what happens, cling to your dreams, work double time, give them wings and don’t just fly, soar with all your strength and make sure you’re not the only one happy with your deeds. Bring a smile to someone else’s face as well!

With the clock hands ticking at lightning speed and a very few days left, I waited for what lay ahead. With pressure building up on their shoulders, hopes and dreams of parents and loved ones, the bewildered JEE aspirant prays for the best with fingers crossed. Not everyone is born a JEE-nius after all!

And, as expected, I couldn’t crack Advanced. But by God’s grace, I managed to get into another prestigious institution. To everyone who was worried about the ‘year I lost’ , I never lost anything. In fact, I gained a lot more, in the past year .

Hoping that someday I can integrate the links between science and literature. I run, with the crowd, trying to be one step ahead, not in the cut-throat competition of IIT-JEE, but in the marathon of life!


You must be to comment.
  1. Ashin

    Another lucky guy here who couldn’t crack JEE and now in CUSAT. ????????????

    1. Farha Salim

      Lucky , that’s right .
      Sometimes what we get may be far better than what we wished for , in some way or the other ^_^


  2. Farha Salim

    Lucky , that’s right .
    Sometimes what we get may be far better than what we wished for , in some way or the other ^_^


  3. Suyash Saurabh Singh

    Hey Farha !
    Read your story, there was a lot to relate to and why not be ? in a country where the most energetic section of the population move in herds, instead of following their own Innateness.
    You want to know my story ?
    Watch this :

    1. Farha Salim

      Thats great , and what are the patented ones btw ?

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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