It’s 6 AM in the morning. I’d slept at three last night. I’m not an early riser during vacations, but I’m up today. I’m sitting alone in my room and writing this as an endless stream of tears runs down my face. My eyes drift to the display board in front of my study table, to the picture of Massachusetts Institute of Technology stuck in it. MIT is glaring down at me, mocking me, the 90% scorer. My heart has shrunk to the size of a walnut; it has shattered in countless pieces. A restless shadow has surrounded me and darkened my world with everything in it. I’m devoid of sleep when I want it more than ever. I can neither sleep nor do I want to wake up.
It’s difficult to count the number of people that congratulated me yesterday. It’s difficult to say “thank you” when my heart is screaming and screeching inside of me. Thank you for what? I want to say. But I know that they couldn’t possibly understand. People tell me that they used to be happy with 60% and here I am, crying with 90%. How could they understand my pain? How could they understand what this meant to me, a simple two digit number with a percentage sign?
I don’t expect them to understand what I had done over the span of one year, what I had lost, what I had sacrificed, just for this simple two digit number that refused to show up in my result. When I compare what I have gained to what I had lost, my heart shrinks even further. I’m surrounded by a dark cloud of hopelessness and despair because deep inside because I know that I can never do better than this. This time, I had given it my all. I couldn’t possibly study more than twelve hours, could I?
I had worked for this endlessly, every single day from the first day of Class 10. I can’t forget the number of hours I’ve put into this, the number of hours that I could so joyously spend watching anime or making music, which I wanted to do most, but I decided to quit everything and study. They say, hard work always pays off. Why didn’t my hard work pay off? How could I explain to CBSE that because of their negligent checking of papers my life has shattered, my future has shattered?
The quotation I have stuck in my wall says, “Stay low, go fast. Kill first, die last. One shot, one kill. No luck, all skill.” True, I had followed every step of that. But it’s not entirely true, is it – no luck, all skill? Because luck decided to escape me, here I am, sitting with 90% instead of 95%. So much could have changed if I was rightly marked if justice was served. I could have been one of the city toppers. I would have got more marks than any student of DPS and Archana ma’am, the director, would have regretted ever letting me go. I wanted so badly for her to look at my marks and wish I was a DPS student.
I’m not able to forget that social studies, the subject in which I was expecting the second highest marks, somewhere around 97, is the subject in which I got the lowest – 82. I can’t know it any more clearly that this is wrong. I’m not able to erase from my mind my social studies answer sheet. Every answer is still freshly engraved in my mind. I had cross-checked over and over later at home, and I couldn’t be surer that I wouldn’t get below 95 in social studies no matter how unlucky I might be, no matter how negligent my examiner might be.
I still remember how I had written the answers – exactly how principal sir had said – each point underlined, in long answers the important keywords underlined, examples quoted for every point. I had left two marks on the map, but that was all. I look at the question paper again and again and try to understand where I could possibly have lost sixteen marks. The answer escapes me; it’s not possible, I know. And yet, there’s nothing I can do about it. Because CBSE doesn’t take the 10th graders seriously enough, there isn’t a system for revaluation of answer sheets. I still can’t figure out why I got an 88 in English in spite of having a good vocabulary and writing skills.
I live in a country where the answer sheets of students, who spend a whole year studying ceaselessly, are checked extremely negligently within five minutes; a country where those with “settings” and “sources” with the higher ups and ministers end up with 99% at the end of the day. I live in a country where half my friends had the leaked question paper of Maths, and I appeared innocently at the exam with a silent hope in my heart to get the marks I deserved. I wish I wasn’t born in a country that doesn’t know the meaning of justice.
I have failed, in spite of succeeding. I’m engulfed by depression and overwhelmed by trauma.