The cool breeze that rush through Bay of Bengal has lost its way to Silchar. Outside It was hot and humid as always. But the surrounding atmosphere was tensed up because the examination was on full swing.
It was 1:45 pm. We were inside the exam hall, enjoying the comfort that speeding fans provides us.
Time was ticking. Invigilators entered the room with dreadful looks. There were three of them and one PhD fellow too. Another man probably peon of fifties entered the room loaded with bundles of answer booklet. He stared distributing the papers, while the invigilators were settling down.
The answer booklet was right in front. I filled up the required blanks. Roll number, subject name, date and all. We had antenna exam that day. I was recapitulating the points and trying hard to make myself to answer properly when the alarm breaks out at 2 pm.
I was waiting for the alarm to break out. The longer I waited more tensed I became. Exams are not new to me, instead it is a routine that I had been following since pre-primary classes and that judged the person in me and brought till this edge. But deep inside me I was still not accustomed with the examination systems. There is fear inside me reminding me what if you can’t answer any. The cold sweats ran through the spine and I could feel it. This happens in every exam. So it’s normal I console myself.
In a table there were two students, with simultaneous 8th and 4th semester students in one table. My table-mate was a fourth semester computer science student. His subject was artificial intelligence that day. He seemed more tensed than any other. His fingers were fumbling; next moment he was biting the nails, next he was craning all over room. I knew something was wrong with this guy today. But I didn’t pay much attention.
Late comers entered the room. While others were busy drawing margins and filling up roll number, name and date as I did. He started writing by then. He was so vigilant. He completes a line, see what invigilators were doing. He went on scribbling down. I was shocked! His calculators were full of write up. Of course with pencil that can be easily wipe it off if he suspects that someone is watching his movement.
Brilliant bastard, was what I comment for him. Next two minute he finished decoding the crooked light letters from the covers of calculator to his answer booklet. There was sighing of relief. He gave me an awkward look, he didn’t spoke but he wanted to say “Bhaiya there is nothing wrong in what I did” He was happy. The calculator cover was back to its original look. He erased off the master copy.
Well done brother, it’s your day today was what I wanted to whisper in his ear. But I was still a stranger to him. I only met in that mid-sem exam only.
Finally the shrill scream of alarm from the roof top breaks the silence. Promptly invigilators distributed the question papers.
“Oh keelaaa” he murmured. I was familiar with this word. Keelaa is an Assamese slang.
There he was, stuck up. He didn’t even move an inch. His face was blushed. I saw what had happened to him. Of course I should see. I was right next to him. What a disaster now? Within a minute the sweat made ways through his forehead. He was tilting his neck round and round. There were goose bumps on his hairy hands.
What the hell I thought. Now what? I was wondering what I would do if I were in his shoes. Damn that would be the toughest of all. My heart accelerated its normal beat. I cannot bear to see him getting back in that paper. His whole semester ruined for such a silly act. Thoughts rush on and on.
Damn, I didn’t mention what happened. He had copied the answers from calculator to the first page of his answer booklet. That page was literally a rough page now. Any professor could make out that he had cheated.
What did he do? After so much so of pressure, finally……….. He crossed whole page twice, to the beginning he wrote ANSWER NO. 1 and end that page by writing CANCELLED in bold letter.
I learned one thing that day: That’s an engineer, redesign to solve complications of life.