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!