0005 hrs IST, 09/01/2009. I am sitting in a room surrounded by friends waiting with bated breath, pinning all hopes on the slower-than-a-snail Internet connection in the insti. There are phone calls coming in from all over the country, some bringing smiles, others mutters of condolences, all adding to the tension that hung heavy in the air. I get instructions to connect to a proxy site. In spite of the ultra slow net, I manage to connect, and type in the destination where much lies at stake.
People may disagree, but for me, the wait for the site to open was longer than the wait for the results to get displayed. I suppose I was more pragmatic, less suffocated by the onus put on us by a single exam. As I typed in the digits dictated into the boxes, and the mouse pointer lingered over the button saying ‘Get result’, I intuitively knew few things could go wrong this day. A second, two, ten……the result came online. A cry of joy, hugging, backslapping, pulling of arms to log out and log in again. The whole process repeated, and a second, greater cry of joy reached my ears, and I joined in, confirming my conviction that Fate was smiling on people today. But I also knew there would be no more revelry that day, no more cause to rejoice. I had written my fate long ago, when I prioritised my goals.
Distant voices insisted “Get your Test Roll number. We want to see what you’ve got”. And then I realized what I had done. This was not a priority for me. But people expected something from me. And I refused to give it to them. Or rather, I did it so half-heartedly that it merits position as a greater crime. No matter. I was not lying. I did not have the number. It was early in the morning, and I had work the next day.
0630, same day. I call up home and retrieve my number. No hopes. Just those of my friends. Apparently, all your friends’ hopes aren’t enough to get you something you don’t really want. It would have been nice, though. Sort of like the birthday present you can’t really appreciate, but still hug friends for, since they thought of you. A tense talk at home cleared any delusions of grandeur that may have been floating around. Nothing new there. I knew it went bad. I knew it was my fault. But then, why did it feel so hollow? I missed something there, but I am not sure what it was. Competition? Satisfaction? Pleasure? Bah, humbug!
Later in the day, more people congratulate my friends, more ask me how I fared. I feel almost apologetic. “No, sorry. Didn’t make it”. How phony does that sound? Messages are best left unanswered. I finish class and get back. Through usual habit, I turn on the laptop and check the mail. I read the first one. The subject is not mentioned. I go through it. Twice. And, for the first time since the sun rose, since that night of revelry, I smile. And I pick up the phone…….