The first seed of tension was planted in my mind, and I was beginning to feel a little tensed… My tenth standard board examination results would be out tomorrow. But my state of mind was nothing when compared to what my mom, dad and sister felt…They were all hysterical from the past one week. My mom was accusing my lack of seriousness in studies and was chiding me for her guessed, prospective dismal result of mine. She was sure my results would be something so bad, that the whole family would have to evacuate the home, in order to ‘survive’ in the society & escape the ‘shame’. My kid sister would nod in assent whenever my mom accused me of something that led her to the conclusion that i would have surely failed my examinations. Without her knowledge, she would instinctively imitate or mimic my mom’s various expressions, on her face too, as she watched my mom. Her expressions ranged from disappointment- on thinking of what might be my results, horror-at the thought of what she would have to tell our relatives who would enquire about my results, anger- for my sheer disinterestedness in the whole topic, and still according to her, being kiddish & immature.
My dad was never a fan of ‘noisy families’… He preferred to downplay his emotions, emotions that were almost the same that mom felt, but his expressions of it were definitely of lesser intensity in comparison. My sister would cast looks at me that made me feel, as if I were the only sheep to have been born black in our entire family & its tree. Dad would suppress himself from praising & commending me for a petty job that was well done. His appreciation was only 20per cent of what it otherwise would have been, but for my impending, & according to my family-a sure ‘doomed results’.
It was getting increasingly difficult for me to get used to this strange tensed atmosphere at home. I wished I could go away somewhere, only to return after my results were announced. People at home were looking at me as if I were an escaped convict, who forced them into allowing a place for himself at their home! It became so bad, that I would sometimes feel guilty to even ask for a second helping of my favorite dish, wondering if, the crime I had committed (prospective guaranteed dismal result), deserved a sumptuous meal in return. My mom ensured I felt that way. I spent several sleepless nights wishing I had studied a little better, rather, i had studied at least. Wishing I had heeded my mom’s constant warnings of my bad results thereafter, which she successfully made it sound like an oracle or something, wishing I had not bunked classes & tutions like as if I was studying in kindergarten…. But, I was ‘I’ after all. Seriousness about something was never that came to me at the drop of a hat. I wanted to take everything easy and used to chill in the face of a monstrous problem which was threatening to bite my head off. One of my pastimes was to worry & tense people up, to give generous gifts of ‘tension’ to people, but would never accept any gifts myself, of the same kind.
I concluded by thinking that my results would be the price I would be paying for being such a mischievous monster. I decided to take it and face it like a war martyr. I kept thinking of reasons ‘valid’ for a student to fail, or rather the ‘eligibility criteria’ (set by the elders) needed for an acceptable failure in an examination. Some of my options were: Very bad health, health so bad that i needed hospitalisation; Lack of peace of mind- thanks to parent’s constant quarrel at home, wrong totaling by the examiner-will apply for re totaling, favorite child of bad luck-good luck has deserted me; put up a ‘miss goody two shoes’ act- wear an expression of oppressed and harassed girl on my face and blame my monstrous, mischievous kid sister with a straight face for foiling my exam preparations; rubbish aside the very university and tarnish its reputation so much that, the mark statement that it would issue soon, would hold no value to the ‘wise’ elders….
Was still contemplating about the criteria, when I fell asleep. I dreamt an escapist dream of sleeping through my day of results and waking up, like Sleeping Beauty, only after my results were out and after me declared a pass candidate. The next day when I woke, I realized it was the ‘D day’. I had woken up on a wrong day! Damn these good dreams into the deepest lava pit of hell!
I heard from my room, mom and dad fight it out amongst themselves as to who should go to check out my results. My mom didn’t want to and neither did my dad. The tension would be too much for them to take, watching other joyous parents kiss with pride, their ‘passed-the-exam- with-flying-colors’ kids, fearing other known parents who might read the disappointment and horror on their faces as they checked my results out, teachers surrounding them to enquire my results, and then having to hear their versions of the various reasons why I failed… My kid sister watched them enthusiastically, her eyes filled with appreciation at the source of her entertainment. Dad flung his hands in the air, as if to dismiss the whole issue and then passed the verdict that mom had to go. Knowing my dad too well and seeing no sense in arguing any further with him, my mom was clearly defeated. Trying to make best use of her, now left time, she scampered off to do an elaborate pooja to God, hoping to invoke all the Gods sitting in heaven and to attract their attention to this one mortal of all the billions of other species that existed on the planet. I perched myself on the sofa hand as my sis examined my face and the expression it wore- as usual misinterpreting it into what she wanted to see. This time, she wanted to see the guilty look of a ‘soon-to-hanged’ convict on my face. I glared at her, so that she would stop her pea brained examination & (mis)interpretation of the way my face appeared to her.
Mom hurried out from the pooja room, cast a look that confirmed my sister’s interpretation. I was indeed ‘soon-to-be-hanged’!!! and this was why my sis looked at me that way too, searching precisely this expression to appear on my face.
Dad preferd not to look at me, as he knew I was capable of melting his hostility with one ‘i’m-sooo-good-yet-misunderstood’ look. He continued moving around the house doing nothing really. I knew he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I pretended as if I was unaffected by all the hostility in the air. I picked up the day’s newspaper, lied down on the sofa and browsed through it. There it was, a news heading that read: “SSLC results out. Girls score over boys yet again!” I hoped I was in one of those ‘girls’. There were pictures of students flocked around the notice broad that contained their results. There were reports of students who committed suicide because they could not live through the tension and stress of waiting for the unveiling of results. Too late! I thought. They could have learnt a thing or two from me on how to remain unaffected by all the chaos around you, like a dew on a lotus leaf. If all else failed, i decided, I would set up my own coaching classes and serve the student community at large, by honing their survival skills during the wait period for their results. Maybe I could teach them some breathing exercises, ‘result’ yoga (like ‘power’ yoga), recommend hilarious books that would keep them occupied for months, organise a fun ‘who cares about the results’ trip etc. I was still thinking of various options when i slept again, much to my dad’s disgust, who expected me to sit up, trembling from toe to head and bite my nails!
The next thing i heard was a shriek let out by my sister. I decided to continue my nap as i assumed it was a shriek/exclamation of horror that she had just emanated on knowing my scores. But then i heard chorus of laughter and celebration. I turned to my other side, and concluded that my family was just affected by mass insanity, insanity that was an after effect of horror and disappointment. Too bad for them and too good for me, I thought, relieved
Then my mom jerked me up from my dazed slumber and made me sit up. She hugged me, her eyes filled with tears of happiness and her expression when interpreted, read: ‘i knew you would not let me down’. My dad shared that expression with his wife. Ahaaa? after me enduring so much? Couldn’t you have not worn those expressions before? She then exclaimed as she unhugged me: “You passed and that too, passed in first class!”.
What!? I then, out of guarded curiosity, enquired about my detailed results. I was satisfied with my score. I mentally thanked the examiners who corrected my papers, for being extra nice and kind to me. I requested God to grant them an extra dollop of happiness from my side, this summer. My sister’s face was filled with so much happiness that I wondered from where all that came from, which was no where to be seen just a few hours ago.
I now carried myself like a ruthless emperor who had just expanded his kingdom by one hundred percent and was awaiting a huge celebration for this accomplishment. My parents continued to make me feel that way and sure enough, we had a grand family party that evening, to celebrate my new conquest!