I get the worst seat in an examination hall. Ever since school. From having to sit beside people I so dearly dislike to being cramped in seats on which I feel like a giant. The desks are as uneven as the Indian roads ( No Kidding! Some desks actually had several potholes in them).
But this time, it was hell.
Being an online exam, I had expected good seats, good fans if not ACs, open and wide windows, no excruciatingly small circles that I must darken with double the focus and care I use to solve the questions.
It was perfect. It was everything I had hoped for. It lasted for a moment.
Maybe it is the right time to tell you this. I never eat before an exam on principle. Nervousness is not good for my gut. But my mom had insisted I have breakfast that day. I gave in to that sweet voice and those worried eyes.
They let us in, one by one, after having us walk through metal detectors and having our pictures and finger prints verified with their records. For a second, it felt like walking into a different country and not a far-flung engineering college whose computer labs were home to fat, long and bold lizards( Yes, I saw one disappearing into one of the crevices of the wall).
In that one good moment when everything seemed perfect, I read and re-read the instructions and patiently stared at the monitor, the wall, the desk, a hairy mole on a guy’s hand who was next to me. The screen flashed the timer that was frozen on 160. I converted those minutes into hours even though I already knew that my exam would last 3 hours.
When that moment ended, I realised that I am wiping the sweat dripping from my temples. My sweat had seemed to bind my back to the plastic seat. I shift forward and feel the dampness of my kurti. My heart sinks as I dab, with the back of my hand, more sweat that rests on my cheeks, and around my lips.
I was shoved in the farthest corner of the hall, I knew, no good fan or wide window could clear the humid air around me.
I loosen my scarf. I snatch my hallticket from the desk and fan myself and the air with vengeance- hoping to drive the humidity away.
About 10 minutes later, the timer blinks 159:59. Just as I begin to read the first question, my stomach rumbles. It wasn’t a hungry rumble; it was an angry, nasty growl.
It became nastier with every second. We are not allowed watches in the hall, but it must have been around 1:30 pm. I held it all in. From my frustration to everything that was so adamant to come out.
In the hour leading upto the goosebumps, pain and more sweat, I had nervously glanced at the invigilator several times, clicked on options without reading the questions, and I am very sure everyone in the hall was fed up by the shrill squeaks my seat gave out whenever I shifted in it.
The rules had specifically mentioned that no student would be allowed out of the hall during the test. There was no point of asking to leave or even hope that you would be allowed.
When the timer hit 99:01, I couldn’t care any less about the exam. I walked upto the invigilator, mustered on my face all the tension and sadness I could fake, and requested with a sadder voice to go to the washroom.
I came back to my seat 5 minutes later with a positive outlook on life.