This year some six lakh students skipped board exams in UP. The way they cheat khule aam is tauba-tauba. In Bihar I think assisting in cheating by climbing windows of multi storey buildings is a profession of sorts. It was nice to see students in chappals as I remember shoes could take on at least ten to twenty questions. If socks were taken into consideration then the complete exam could be managed unless you took the wrong subject notes. It reminded me of my days as a class ninth student.
In class ninth my Dad insisted that I must do “Punjab Matric” as it was called in those days. I was studying in a CBSE school then. He said that we all were going to stay in Punjab so a state degree would be instrumental in getting me a good job in Punjab Government. I had no choice and the more I resisted the more he got adamant. Once or twice I got a solid beating also for it.
Be that as it may, my first waterloo was arithmetic. As it is I was zero in maths. I got an MBD refresher from Vir di Hatti in Kapurthala. I can never forget the author; it was Barkat Ram Nair and sons. It had calculations like which day of the week was Gandhi ji born. It was Friday if I still remember it correctly, don’t ask me the formula please. Profit and loss, shares and debentures were bouncers for me. I was algebra kinds as somehow I used to find that notty fellow called ‘x’.
My second waterloo was the Punjabi itself. My Punjabi was half Hindi and half Punjabi. To ratto the Punjabi “kaida” of “oora-aira” took me some time. I used to get mixed up with “matras” and of course the alphabets. “pappa” and “dhadda”, “mamma” and “sassa”, they all looked the same. Well, now that my matriculation form had been filled there was no way out.
My third waterloo was history. From the battles of Panipat, to revolt of 1857, from Shivaji, to the East India Company and of course Akbar, Birbal, Humayun and who was whose son, it was beyond me. I had a lot of cramming capacity as I used to participate in declamations and plays. So the only option was to by heart the father, son and son of a gun.
Saving grace was English. For Punjabi’s English was like going to the gallows. I remember I used to take exams in the evening sessions as a private candidate. I had also the unique distinction of being the only English medium candidate in that centre. As luck would have it I had all girls around me. Well, when it came to the English exam I was kicked and nudged by this girl sitting behind. “Baau kuj taan das de” (Sir tell me something at least). The one on the left kept winking at me; each wink meant the question number. Where was Priya Prakash those days? The girl on the right kept tapping her pen and the one in front kept showing me fingers behind her neck, unfortunately she could not ask beyond question ten due to the limitation of the number of fingers.
The best part was that was the first time I saw where all ladies hide their “parchies”. Well, I don’t have to elaborate. I also came to learn where all they can write on their bodies, it was interesting. After the exam when one went to the toilet it appeared to be a “raddi ki dukan” with rolls and rolls of paper. As I later came to know that girls were striped to bare minimum to “excavate” their knowledge banks in form of chits.
Then came the maths exam and it was my turn to take favours. When I asked for the formula; they gave me the “faar-moolah”. I asked for the value of x they gave me back some “rakam”. Ede nal onu guna kar de, te ode naalon es nu manfi. I thought to myself if I got to fail I will fail myself and not take help from anyone to fail. And fail I did, I got a compartment in maths which I cleared subsequently.
Another funny thing my dad did was he wrote my date of birth as 1969 instead of 1963. Well, no one checked birth certificates then. The logic he gave was I will retire six years late. Good that I did not join “Gormint” of Punjab and my Sainik School mark sheet saw me through to NDA.
Indeed board exams are a nightmare for many. People claim they are double MAs etc but has any one of you done double matric? I have? Why did I do it? I still wonder!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis