While all my friends are fervently making plans for every single day of the holidays, I have to sit in a warm room with a hundred others like me struggling to learn how to crack a very difficult entrance exam to the prestigious IIT. But whether I have learnt how to beat the others or not, I have learnt a very valuable life lesson — never apply for a competitive entrance exam, ever again.
I have never had much difficulty in school concerning academics, but I knew IIT was a totally different ball game. I joined a coaching class and was surprised to note that I was the only person who was fluent in Tamil. Although 90 per cent of the students were from Chennai too, none of them seemed to understand even a word of it. If someone happened to utter even a single word in Tamil, they would be looked at with disgust. Initially, I found this extremely funny but I adamantly stuck to speaking Tamil. I mean, can you imagine two Americans who can speak their own language going out of their way to converse in Spanish? Unless they are taking a Spanish lesson, that is.
But as the weeks progressed, it simply grew worse. The one or two who did speak Tamil also felt the need to measure up and switched to English. It all felt very fake to me; like one giant showing-off game without the scores. And language was not the only issue; everyone was so keen on competing, beating the person sitting next to them. They had no time or use for friendship; it was all about getting one mark more than your “friend” in mock tests. So everybody became somebody else’s yardstick. There was this unspoken rule that the “hip” students stuck only to other such “hip” ones and the nerdy, bespectacled, awkward ones like me stuck together. The snobbery was nauseating; it was an extremely unfriendly, uncomfortable atmosphere and I felt strangled by it all. I could not understand why nobody wanted to be friends with me without asking me for my marks; but they never wanted to tell me theirs. It made me appreciate school life better — you laughed with your friends if you failed or patted each other’s backs if you passed. While I was ready to clarify another student’s doubts, I never got the same kind of help form anybody else. Everyone seemed like robots, with no feelings except of competition, with only the goal of IIT programmed into their heads.
Now I am quite used to it all. Everyday, I go, I sit, I fix my gaze on the teacher’s mouth and let my mind wander. Some days I bunk class and hang out with my school buddies. When I joined, I was as much an IIT aspirant as the other students. Now I am a disillusioned teenager.
I know I will not make it to IIT. But it no longer matters to me. I lack the drive; the idea of slaving for five years, apart from 14years of schooling is not very appealing to me. My only regret is that I had to realise this late in life. So, I plan to just enjoy college life with like-minded friends, and make good memories for my future. Anyway, if the world is really going to end in 2012, who cares what marks you score in an entrance exam?
KIRTHANA, an ex-IIT aspirant
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