To think I had improved would be an overstatement. I began to honestly feel I had improved simply because I was never dragged into HM’s office throughout my 6th Standard. But on a more sub-conscious level, whenever I thought about it, I never found anything in me that had changed. It was as if I was still the same person, but the circumstances that led me to HM’s office every year, were simply not happening now. Though I never thought of it that way then, now that I realise, it must have been within me all along, only I never had the opportunity to get myself dragged into the office.
This was the year when I got back into an old habit of mine, copying, probably for the last time in my life. I don’t know what led me into it, probably the long gap from attempting to study and the subsequent pressure to study to appear good or probably something else.Whatever the reasons, I forced my self to appear hardworking and sincere, because I found the results being appreciated(thank Vasanthi Aunty for that) and therefore felt like being good(though it was all an act, nevertheless, it is very difficult to act good). This copying thing was a one-off experiment I had decided to try and so teamed up with IAK. Since after the 5th Standard, the batches continued to be divided into Ooty and Parthi, we both were in ‘B’ Section, and since we had joined in Parthi itself, he was Roll No. 1 and I was Roll No.2.
Since for the exams we were to be seated in attendance order, he was in the first bench, right under the invigilator’s nose, and I was right behind him in the second bench. We devised an ingenious way to not only get through the exams, but do so in flying colours.(Ok. Many would find nothing ingenious in it, but back then, it was very ingenious to us, since nobody else was trying it. Also it seemed like something made for us[wish I had known about SWOT analysis then]. It complemented our both strengths very well, as well as brought about a kind of synergy between us)
We decided to learn half the syllabus each, for the half-yearly exams. For every subject, he would read the first-half of the notes and I would read the second-half. And I mean read as in learn it to the maximum level of perfection that can be achieved from mere reading of a book. If any of us was asked something from our half, no matter from any nook or corner, we could answer it a hundred without getting it wrong a single time. Back then we never knew of words like ‘division of labour’ or ‘specialisation’, though now those words seem to make a lot of sense. So we dutifully learnt our respective portions, and we would tell each other the answers to the paper based on whose syllabus it was. And for the Final exams, we would reverse our positions in the book and get to know the entire book in a phased manner.
The one special character who deserves mention in the midst of all this is Raghu Ram. He was our junior, and used to sit next to me for the exams. For every exam we both used to have an open challenge on who would submit the paper first. The challenge was to not only finish within the first 2 hours and submit, it was about who would submit first and also score more. The moment the exam would begin,he would ask for 5 or 6 additionals and never raise his head till he finished. Whereas, the moment the exam began, IAK and I would tick off which questions fell into whose share of the bargain, and begin forth the exchange process. Despite that I was always the one to submit before Raghu Ram, however when the results were out, ti was always he who scored in the Nineties and IAK and I always scored in the Eighties. So much for speed.
It all seemed a fine arrangement until the final exam for Science. We both prepared for our respective halves of the portions. The only twist being, that since very little had been covered before the Half-Yearly exams, and therefore what we learnt for the Half-Yearly exams was hardly 25% of the entire syllabus. Besides, my penchant for maintaining incomplete notes, or rather my laziness for maintaining notes of any kind came to the fore again more acutely in this case. We both studied our halves for the exam. Once we were handed the papers, we both had probably the most whitest/blank of all faces in the room, if there were any. We had absolutely no clue to more than 50% of the questions. And the person to blame was none other than me. I realised that I never had the notes of all that portion of the syllabus to begin with, and secondly IAK got the first half of the portion which we had already studied for half-yearly, and which accounted for only a pitiful 30% of the marks now.
That was probably the last day I copied in my life. The exam left me with so much self-deprivation on my planning and execution abilities, that I decided never to copy again, something I continue to follow religiously even today.
The 6th Standard was the only year in my whole school-life(high school included) that I got a Proficiency Prize, and I still have the Blue Slingbag with the Sarva Dharma logo, that I received as the prize. And evertime I look at it, it keeps reminding me, that this was something that I didn’t deserve, something that I cheated to get to. Something that now that I think of, was never worth cheating for. But then, in those days we never studied to get the Proficiency Prize. We only studied or cheated to get praised in class later.
to be continued… … …