The Ide’s of March..
For those who have not had the advantage of a fine classical education, like yours truly and if you cannot roll Latin and Greek aphorisms off your tongue like so many sweet peppermints, then for your enlightenment- the Ides’ of march refer to that fateful day when Julius Caesar was stabbed and in general parlance refers to the madness which suddenly descends on men and women when march arrives. Although I am generally immune to all kinds of madness, being a living proof that if you are already afflicted with something that thing cannot come back to bite you…. Anyway, I woke up today screaming and sweating enough to rouse the whole house, which is just a metaphor (in the best traditions of English literature, think Charles Dick’ens, he, he, can’t help sniggering, whenever I say the second part of his name) as everyone else at the house was already awake by then as they don’t have the advanced ability or superhuman strength to sleep through a power-cut, I screamed and only woke myself up.
Sweating profusely, both from the airless room and my absolute terror at the nightmare I had just had I tried to recall what it was that had made me shiver me timbers, laddie (that’s pirate speak for being afraid- see what a fine all round education I’ve had), I recalled the nightmare involved something about writing an exam and not finding the time to complete it or the supervisor running out of additional sheets just when I finally remember the answer and that’s it. If there is a phobia specifically for fear of exams, I am sure they can use me as a poster-model for it. Every year when March dawns slyly, I, like thousands of students all over India wake up sweating at all hours of the morning to study for upcoming exams. And this doesn’t involve a proper morning time like say 8:00AM – it involves waking up at unearthly hours like 4:00am when the only other people awake with you are Vampires rushing home after a fun filled night of biting necks.
Every since I joined the educational system at the tender age of around 3, when I was torn from the bosom of my mother (again another metaphor, see dad, paying my school fees is not in vain) and sent to a correctional institute for the criminally inclined called Pre-school where they torture kids with insubordination tendencies to try to make them into fine upstanding citizens with anti social tendencies. Anyhow that’s when the culture of writing exams slowly permeated into my consciousness like the slime monster from outer space taking over the earth and my dad started his “wake up, its dawn, start studying” routine….for he knew that when it comes to waking me from sleep, even a dozen alarm clocks had no chance to disturb my tranquility for I would retreat into my Zen zone and disregard the external noises and disturbances. My mother on her part would deal out aphorisms like “March goes marching past” to try and make me, already shivering with fright, to pee in my pants at the thought of approaching exams and a blank answer sheet in exchange for a full question paper theory of bartering…(see, I even know a little economics too…)
This constant hectoring about exams and marks has left such an imprint on my psyche that 30 years later when I no longer have to be afraid of exams or answer sheets or mark lists or PTA meetings or the abominable snowman or love letters… errr to get back to topic, when I need no longer be afraid of anymore exams – I still wake up shivering and screaming, come march. The exams I write now are purely for fun and games, as it has become an addiction with me to get additional degrees and failing them is not going to make any difference in my life, but childhood habits die hard and I find myself waking up again at the Brahma Muhurtam of 3:45AM to sit and read something/anything.
Finally, all this fear of exams has lead to one positive thing- the benefit of students at my college. Whenever I take a test for them, I usually correct their answer sheets, strictly and fairly and then to their marks, I always add a Pongal/Deepavali bonus of twenty marks each- uniformly to everyone, leaving everyone with enough marks to get full internals when compared to the other “strict” faculty who show their superior intellect only in correcting exams and never in teaching class.. That’s my way of getting back at the educational system which has terrorized me all my life, what’s yours?