The Games Gods Play.
Ravi sat there in the exam hall scratching his head. The chemistry paper was as tough as he had feared. He had intentionally omitted to study certain chapters hoping that as the same questions had come in the previous years paper they would not be repeated again. Examiners tended to do things like that. They too went through the last years paper diligently like the students did and avoided repeating the same questions again and again. Or that’s what Ravi had gambled on. But unfortunately this time Ravi’s gamble had only worked halfway. Sure none of the questions looked to be repeat offenders. But that was all that could be said in their favor. They were a bunch of no-shit garbage scraped from the bottom of the barrel. No decent person would spend three hours sitting in a crowded hall to answer these kinds of questions and still keep their self dignity intact. But. The pathetic state of the educational system forced students to crib and answer such drivel. He glanced up heavenwards to curse at an unthinking unfeeling God who had allowed such a question paper to come to him- now he wouldn’t even have to fulfil his promise of breaking those ten coconuts he had promised to break at the temple if he got an easy question paper. Ok God, he threatened heaven , you had your chance and you fluffed it- no more coconuts for you or temple visits or anything else special from me- you are persona non grata from now on- our relationship is definitely over even if you don’t agree. He was that angry with God for abandoning him like this to the whims and fancies of sadistic chemistry examiners.
Ok, he told himself, enough of staring at the question paper and questioning the paper setters multiple parentage. Its time to fill in at least a few pages of that so far blank answer book and hope to hell it at least reaches the hand of a compassionate paper corrector who wouldn’t mind being liberal with his valuations. So Ravi put his head down and started scribbling stuff with his chicken scrawl hoping to fool the evaluator that the scribble was the correct answer just written in hieroglyphs. As time passed he got absorbed more and more into his creative writing assignment until a faint hiss woke him up from his total absorption in his work. He looked up to see who had disturbed his concentration to find the candidate sitting in front of him- their class swot Ramu trying to hoarsely whisper out of the corner of his mouth “Machan the invigilator has gone out of the hall da…tell me what you know”. Ravi was flabbergasted for a minute “he wants me to tell him? Hows that for a role reversal? Uh..okk…” He rapidly went over the possibilities for utilizing the invigilators absence from the exam hall and concluded that given it was the last twenty minutes or so on the clock he just had time to complete three or four short answers at the maximum. The essays could go to hell- if he could get at least half the marks on the short notes he might scrape through. “Yeah i will help you” he whispered back to Ramu “if you will tell me the answers to these short questions first” and bargain concluded he started scribbling away as Ramu dictated the answers.
As Ravi finally numbered his papers, pinned them and waited for the invigilator to come around the hall to collect the answer papers at the end of the exam, he felt a strange guilt. He felt he had unnecessarily abused god and reneged on their bargain of ten coconuts without waiting for the end. Hadn’t he been a tad too harsh with god? Afterall, poor God had finally done his best by sending away the examiner from the hall for a good part of half an hour and allowed ravi to write enough short answers to pass or at least scrape through the exam which was all he wanted. What if god become angry at him for not following through with their deal? What if his answer paper got lost in transit and never even reached the evaluation center? Or something else equally bad happened? Its better not to risk Gods wrath felt Ravi and hastily tried to restore their earlier bargain. “God” he prayed again “those ten coconuts deal still stands, just somehow make me pass this paper and i will never forget you. Please forget all my harsh words earlier and show me a sign, just one sign that all is now well between us and you will make sure that I will pass. Show me the way god and give me a sign, just give me one, gimme, gimme, gimme”.
And as Ravi handed over his answer booklet and went outside the examination center, someone thrust a piece of paper hurriedly into his hand and went away. Ravi glanced at it and read “100% tutorial college, for those who fail this time, a pass guaranteed next time, God’s Promise” the last words in bold letters. He could almost hear god laughing at him from above. Even gods have their little jokes, don’t they?