Pic Credit: New York Times
I was about to enter the examination hall. All I could think of was the never ending question of what to write in the exam. I don’t even remember how the previous day passed, I was sitting with the chapter ‘Acids And Bases’ in front of me. All I could memorize was that acids turn litmus to red and bases turn litmus to blue, everything else was just at the edge of the cliff and waiting to be raided.
Out of nowhere a silhouette with a horizontal scar between the eyebrows blocked my view of the road, shadowed by trees.
She asked “Are you prepared?”
I was confused. I couldn’t pick between the negating answer and the excitement she carried. Everything around me has blurred at that moment. She was the replica of ‘Betty’ of Mulholland Drive. She was ambitious, joyous and converses with no pre-determined intentions. She is one of the few people who listen to you when you talk. She is a person with whom people would love to share their darkest secrets. Everyone loved to be around her.
She interrupted. “Are you prepared?”
“I don’t know, maybe I’m not”. I answered, trying to hide my excitement for her.
“What are you going to write?” She insisted.
“I don’t know. I have to see. I hope it goes well”. I grinned, looking at the scar.
I inquired “What about you? Are you prepared?”. Trying not to showcase my vulnerability for her.
“I’ve prepared for most of the chapters except for the chapter ‘Optics’. I hope they don’t ask anything from that one”. She replied.
That moment, it struck me that I couldn’t even recollect a chapter with that name from our syllabus. Until then, I thought at least I knew what they’re going to ask. I was not shattered, I was renewed that I’m going to flunk.
“Well, I hope they won’t ask anything related to science” I said, trying to cheer her up.
She smiled with her eyes, reassuring our cordial, no-future relationship.
“Well, try to write something. Anyways, all the best, ” She signed off, taking the geometry box out of her bag.
It hit me. I never knew that we need a geometry box and a glazing magma specimen to write a Science exam. I wished the exam gets cancelled due to some tsunami threat or a question paper leak. Fear was growing in me, all I could think of is how to handle my dad on this one. He’s going to give me a cut in my pocket money. Last time I flunked, my mom visited the nearby temple to ask forgiveness for her beloved child. My dad scrapped the plan of getting an LED TV in the house, which he thought might hinder my education.
I entered the exam hall looking at the faces of my peers. The last bench guy was busy organizing his writing plank and the geometry box in such a way that they won’t end as obstacles to his writing saga. One of my friend was busy sharpening his pencil and was occasionally looking at me, smiling at my helplessness. I was allotted a seat in the first bench as many scholars have previously been ordained with. The girl beside me was one of the toppers and she was busy praying to the replica god she brought along with her. She was reciting some hymns or something before she started writing.
I’m usually a person with no faith in religion or god. I was that kid who visited the temple for the delicious prasad they served at the end of the day. But after seeing the girl praying, I did not want to miss my chance with god. My love for god manifolded that moment. I prayed for a question paper filled with questions, mostly from the initial three chapters out of the total twelve. I expected him to fulfill my first wish.
Nevertheless the question paper was okay. I somehow managed to write few answers trying not to flunk the exam. I decided to pray often. I was relieved that at least the questions were prepared for people like me, who daydream before the exam, who were reminded of all the things they couldn’t do in their childhood. Who hated the system being designed for the outspoken, the class of extroverts. I was the guy who thought it was the right time to throw away the burden I’ve been carrying since childhood. I used to think, ‘Anyways, I’m not going to get through this. What’s the point in preparing now. I shall go and have some fun’. All this just before the D-Day. It never occurred again once during the holidays or the academic season.
As I came out of the hall I saw a bunch of students giggling and a group of students making fun of their invigilator. Everyone was busy, claiming they were correct. I was part of the group where no one had a clue about what they wrote and were busy planning for the upcoming holiday season.
I was looking at the reflections of people on the window panes, skipping the details of the holiday plan. I found a body intentionally approaching me in the form of a reflection. As I turned towards the incoming body, I found her. She was dragging her body with an upsetting, but brightly lit face. Upsetting was what she tried to show the people, bright was something not under her control. She has this inherent brightness which no one could ever snatch from her.
“So how did it go?” She inquired, looking into my eyes.
I couldn’t help but notice that her scar turned reddish gold in color. I thought she took the exam too seriously. I couldn’t fathom her excitement being overlapped by sadness. I hated seeing her tensed.
It reminds me of an incident which almost made me fall for her. Once a senior made a scene when she rejected him, someone told me that she was searching for me. As soon as I reached there, she was looking at me with teary eyes. I knew it was an embarrassing moment for her, she couldn’t control her tears after seeing me (of all the people).
That’s when I thought maybe she was reciprocating my feelings for her. But I wasn’t sure, I didn’t have the guts or an intention to spoil whatever we’re already having. She is very important to me. I did not want to lose her by making a move when she was most vulnerable. I wanted to take care of her. I wanted to tell her how all this wouldn’t matter in a few years and how silly it would look that she was crying for an incident like that. But I could only look at her eyes for a few moments. That worked, all we had to do was look at each other and assure that we’re always there for each other. I think maybe words can’t work the way hearts do. I felt relieved, I never thought we had such a relationship where words wouldn’t matter.
“Is something wrong? Are you okay?” She exclaimed.
“Yeah, I did ok. I think I’ll not flunk.” I answered with a lazy tone as if she woke me from sleep.
” How did your exam go?, I didn’t see any question from optics as you’ve hoped for.”
“I did good. I found the paper lengthy. I didn’t have enough time to answer all the questions, but somehow I managed to.” She explained.
“Well, I was left with ample time at the end of the exam. May be I should’ve written those 4 answers (out of 10) for some more time” I joked, trying not to look like a flirt.
She didn’t try to laugh at this. She made her scar move a bit to the upper line of eyebrow as if she was fed up with these kind of jokes.
“Just kidding” I announced, hoping she wouldn’t remember this if we ever get into a serious relationship.
“Ok, I have to go, I have to prepare for the last exam. Please try reading something for the last exam at least.” She ordered with concern.
“Yes, I will. Thanks for caring.” I answered, leaving the ball hanging.
I always thought that she wasn’t looking at our relationship the way I envisioned it. It is the reason for my confusing answers and silly aphorisms. I didn’t want to risk everything we had for that invisible love I was craving for. I hope someday I will gather the audacity to tell her how I felt about her. At least I don’t want to be someone who couldn’t express his feelings all his life, but has been living with the clutter all along. I hope and wish that I would be succumbed by the temptation to be with her.