Every year, there comes a time, [precisely between 9 in the morning to about 3 in the afternoon] when the average JUDEan stops and thinks. Muses philosophically, speculates on such profundities as 'aim' and 'purpose', let us say. Of course I specifically mention the 'average' JUDEan because the rest, who emerge either out of psychedelic hazes of smoke, or, alternatively, the Departmental Library, indulge in such speculations on a regular basis.
This year, that frivolity-eclipsing time was today. The Day of The B.A. English Honours Entrance Examination. When you walk into University to find those who would normally break out into Dylan or tapdance to counter-revolution- waving sheets of chart paper with room names and lists and pens and cellotape, you know you've been caught on the wrong foot. And having been thus entrapped, you're more likely to be dragged by said vanquished foot and thrown to the parents. Oh. The Parents. They're hungry and they will pounce. They will fling names and academic boards [the occasional writing board too, if you're not careful] and children at you, it's a wonder Animal Planet doesn't cover them. There you go, philosophical musing #1: Why doesn't Animal Planet do a program on parenting rituals during examinations?
Anyhow, it is precisely when you're done politely swatting away the 137th parent from entering the exam hall to assist their wards and change their diapers and breastfeed their 18 yr-old toddlers, and you see another swarm rushing at you, that you stop. And you think. But then again, there's a very slim chance that you might actually be me. In which case you'd be stopping to think the moment when, 10 minutes before the test is scheduled to commence, you cast a casual glance in the direction of the classroom you're invigilating in, only to find that forms, questions, answer booklets, and such assorted sundries that make up an exam., are not there. Have not arrived. The individual in charge has executed a classic no-show. So you flail your arms about - everyone's doing it today, and you call up professors who tell you to run a circle round the earth, with a stopover at the English department, which is precisely at the opposite end of your [or my] immediate world. Hmm. And then.
Now, don't get me wrong, maybe the entire purpose of my existence really is to jog about the entire campus and deliver that bottle of water to Bulti, or to tell Chompakoli that her mother wants her to wipe her face every time she sweats, but I'm prepared to risk trying a different sort of life, yea? Especially when I have to go hunt for a supervisor for a bunch of hapless kids minutes before they're supposed to start writing the test.
God, however, works in strange ways. Who i get is this tall hotboy - whom, incidentally, I mistake for an examinee. I glare at him and tell him to stop walking about the classroom, only to find that he's long since perfected the glare, and is indeed, distributing question booklets. Of course, under such strained circumstances, there's rarely much else to do but gulp. Following which, he turns out to be a trifle silly - thereby reinforcing my belief that good-looking men are NOT the ones to go for. Somewhere through our meagre interaction, he tries to convince me that I'm a woman named Kohini who lives in Behala and plays cricket. I'm not very sure why, though. Must be the humidity. Nice man, but. Laughed good-naturedly when i tried to nick his cup of coffee off him.
And because I have dinner plans and am frightfully late, let me leave you with some FAQs at the JUDE entrance exam:
* Will my paper be cancelled if I scratch out 'and' in this sentence and replace it with 'if'?
* Can I leave some blank space? can I begin writing from page 2 instead of from the bottom of page 1?
* What is the length of the average essay in JU?
* How do I pin up my sheets with a pin?
* I play cricket with my friends every evening. Do I also have to meet the Head of the Department? [asked by a very scared individual, once the announcement about Sports Quota candidates having to meet the HOD was made]
* Where's the coffee? Why haven't invigilators on this floor got their coffee? Has Pradipta been embezzling the coffee?
* Frooti. Where's my Frooti? Which sorry fart's face do I have to smash to get my Frooti?
* Fuck. More parents. With more questions. Is it time to light a cigarette yet? [Women in JU have always resorted with favourable results to the Cigarette Smoke when alerted by a Code Red Parent Attack].