Examination mummies

Examination mummies

They are loaded with water bottles, pills, towels and food to feed a small refugee colony.

Dadabhai Naoroji is asking me to solve quadratic equations. Lord Curzon brandishes his sword, threatening me, but Portia reminds him that the ‘quality of mercy is not strained’. I feel like a stone tied to a string being rotated in a circular speed. I pass out before I can figure out the structural formula of ethanoic acid. Yes, it’s board exam time. And, I am a mother.

There are all kinds of mothers — the fat ones, the thin ones, the ones who dress like their daughters, the ones who look like the fathers, the ones who comb before showing up for PTMs, the ones who don’t (I tend to get autobiographical here and there), the ones who fight with teachers over every single mark their ward has missed, and the ones who barely remember the gender of their child. But, under all of these differences, one thing remains the same: the anxieties of the mother of the board examinee.

Just when the weather turns a wee-bit warmer, and trees shed their leaves, those muggy gusts of wind blow in these mothers from all corners of the city...to examination centres. They are loaded with water bottles, nausea medication, headache pills, handkerchiefs, small towels, large towels, and food to feed a small refugee colony. The young examinees seem to have just one common response to them: ‘Go, go away, I am fine.’

But what do they know? We mothers have to stay there and ensure all is well. Now, most examination centres do not provide waiting areas so the mums have nothing to do except visit the nearby mall, browse through clothes, wipe their sweat in the ‘new arrivals’ section and wander around distractedly till it’s time to go back to the exam centre. Some end up at the nearby pub, get drunk on Sangria and come back disoriented, not sure which child belongs to them.

And then, there is the third kind: the ones who wait at the examination centre. I belong to this group. Now, the school has provided a nice place to wait in — a pretty tent in its gardens, unlimited tea, coffee and cookies and choice of insects. I like to take my Kindle along and read. And keep one eye on the ants and spiders crawling up my sleeve. While I am engaged in this, devoting-one-eyeball-to-reading-and-the-other-to-insect-spotting activity, there is worried chatter in the background.

“Is your child more confident in Section 1 Part B or Section 2 Part D?”
“My son is always having stomach ache, why means he is only eating junk food during exams.”
“Did you practice maps and topography sheets all year with your child or just during preparation leave?”

“Which entrance exams will she be taking after this exam?”

I can’t take it anymore. I leave the tent. I am chasing a lizard now. Did you know that it belongs to the Phylum: Chordata?

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