Does This Marksheet Make My Brain Look Big?

My favourite thing about the CBSE board exams is that they took place fifteen years ago. But as it turns out, they’re still a thing, with millions of students taking the plunge this week, one and only one question on their minds: How much do I need to score to make aunties and relatives shut up about my future? (Ans: Move to Siberia.)

So first up, best of luck to all you students and/or the impersonators you’ve paid to take the exam for you. Chances are that by now, you’ve heard tons of friendly advice from older people, because giving gyan makes us feel good about ourselves. The advice usually ranges from “Don’t worry, I also scored 23% and I’m rich enough to go to Phuket for honeymoon now” to “If you mess up that six mark math question, you’ll end up wiping windshields for heroin money.”

I have no clue how you’ll do in life but statistically speaking, if you’re a girl, you stand to do better than the boys in your class. I know this because every year, every newspaper in the country will announce the results with the headline ‘GIRLS OUTSHINE BOYS NYAHNYAHNYAHNYAH BOYS SUCK’.

It has been this way for as long as I can remember. In school, the tongue-in-cheek explanation was that girls got extra marks for neat handwriting. Now this sounds like a typical sexist reaction by boys who can’t stand a girl scoring higher than them, but honestly, as hard as I try, I cannot recall a girl having bad handwriting.

When you say ‘girls’ handwriting’, it conjures up an image of perfectly spaced words perched on the line like elegant tightrope walkers, whereas a guy’s handwriting looks like those tightrope walkers fell eighteen stories and splattered across the page. And then there are those girls who take notes with six differently-coloured pens, highlighting and underlining keywords as they go, while the boys are using their chewed-up 045 to draw breasts and horns on historical figures.

Another headline you’ll always see on result day will be along the lines of ‘POOR KID OVERCOMES ALL ODDS TO TOP THE EXAM; MAKES REGULAR KIDS LOOK BAD’. People of privilege – myself included – cannot even begin to imagine the tenacity it takes to be that person, and we have nothing but respect for such people, but it’s also the kind of thing that makes you feel like Deepak Tijori at the end of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. I mean does your 90 percent even count if you didn’t spend months studying under the streetlamp outside your employer’s sweatshop? My parents always tried to inspire me with examples like these and said things like “If you don’t work hard, that poor kid will grow up to be your boss.” Because if your ingrained class bias isn’t motivation enough to study, I don’t know what is.

I imagine it’s tougher for students to study now, what with a million distractions fighting for their attention. If I’d had a cellphone and broadband in school then, well, I would never have gotten out of school. I’d still be living off my parents, scrolling through six different social media feeds while they tried to get me to mark “Top three coal mines” on the Indian map. (Hint: When in doubt, mark things in the general vicinity of Bihar.)

In fact, teachers today should use the internet to teach boring subjects in a manner that students will understand. They should get rid of those dreary post-lunch history lectures and just send students links that say ‘A British Trading Company Came To India. You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next’. The flipside is that you’d get to see exam answers like, “so like Simon was this guy who came here and wuz all up in mah bizness and peeps were like Y U NO GO BACK and he was like no u lol.”

But on a serious note, good luck once again to everyone taking on the biggest challenge of their lives that will totally determine their self-worth for years to come. Here’s hoping you do well so you can move on to the next challenge, and the next one, and the one after that until you wonder why you were even worried about your boards in the first place. In any case, you always have the Windshield Wiping industry to fall back on.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 8th March 2015.)

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18 responses to “Does This Marksheet Make My Brain Look Big?

  1. Dude, ima gurl… nd ima proud 2 hav a bad handwritin…. 😛 Lol!
    Hats off to you.. This blog post is pretty cool!

  2. it must feel so nice, talking about boards. especially when youre not giving them.

  3. Dude you’re awesome!

  4. Hi, long-time lurker here!
    Your articles make my Sundays so much better, but sadly I had to wait more than a month for this one so write more please! For incentive, *throws fangirl lingerie at you*. I understand you have had a deficit of those lately, according to one of your articles (or maybe that was a long time ago…as I said, lurker).
    Feel free to ask for more motivation, but I draw the line at baby salad. (Now this one is a reference to a fairly recent article so I hope you get this.)
    Much love, continue the good work! 🙂

  5. I’m a huge fan of your articles… Enjoy reading them… Keep them coming!!

  6. Thanks for coming back. Missed you like hell. And thanks for the board wishes too :p

  7. Amazing as always. I wish I could become eklavya to your genius. But I suck at history and for the life of me can not remember the Guru’s name

  8. I have been following your blog for quite some time, and I must say that this one looks like one of those constipated blog-posts that seem to be trying too hard. But then, as a writer myself, I do know that this cannot be avoided at times. This one disappoints me, especially because the genre is marked ‘humor’.

  9. If in doubt, mark in vicinity of Bihar!! Brilliant advice!! Where were you during my school days?! 😉

  10. I wish if you had written this 6 years ago, could have been a great stressbuster for me, brilliant post ashish, more power to you.

  11. YAH NEW ARTICLE

    You’re back and HOW. Amazing job, totally relatable. You’re like pizza; I know if I want more, I’ll either fail in studies cause my time gets used up but I don’t regret it.

    Post more, you smartass genius. We’ve missed you!

  12. AAAGH! Stop making me lough out loud (yes i typed it out lol) when I got my serious face on, staring at the screen at work!
    On a side note, i have terrible handwriting and I’m a girl 😦

  13. Nignog nignog jelly on the plate

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