So, for a twelfth grader Indian, this is the worst time of the year. And quite possibly of their entire life.
Oh, I thought you’d never ask why.
Twelfth grade is the year right before college, so doing well in your twelfth grade exams could literally make or break your entire life. No pressure, though. Don’t try to kill yourself because you think you can’t take it. (Though unfortunately, that could be said to be a common occurrence here thanks to-oh well, read on.)
India has this bizarre socio-cultural phenomenon where even the most random people who do not know your name are interested in your twelfth grade results. If you’re in tenth or twelfth grade (because they’re the two most important years in the Indian education system), then be prepared to answer questions about your ongoing studies from the milkman to the chemist. Literally, from anybody who knows how old you are.
It’s honestly one of the most disgusting and annoying things ever, because these people don’t really care about you. It’s not like they’re interested in hiring you either. So why on Earth do you so sweetly inquire about this piece of information that is so irrelevant to our relationship?
I’m always so close to telling them that it’s none of their business but because I’m polite and I have no other choice than to follow social guidelines, I have to smile and answer them, or evade the question as politely as possible. But I urge you not to do the second thing. This is because people here can be quite rudely intrusive, but all in the name of “taking care of you because we consider you our own”. Right. That is the Indian excuse for nosiness. That we are as good as family when you don’t even know my name. Yep.
Anyhow, because the whole world is taking an interest in my every move right now, and because this path I set out on will determine my future, I must focus.
So the Indian Board Final Examinations take place around March. It is generally expected for all schools to complete the year’s syllabus by December and have at least two sets of preparatory exams so that the students are really set by the time the real tests approach.
As such, I approve because it’s good practice. But right after the Board papers come the entrance exams to college. And each college has a separate entrance exam. Yikes! So from the day my first preparatory exam starts till the end of my entrance exams and when I finally get a seat, I am going to have to slog and cry and sweat and bleed and squirm my way through this. And it will not be pretty.
Till then, I have a few days left to live happily. Or at least, what Indian twelfth grade happiness consists of, mainly involving not having a mental breakdown. Should be fun. And this week is my last week of freedom. I am determined to use it to the fullest.
My last week of childhood and happiness and stress-free moments. Or, what I now consider to be stress-free which would appal most people I know. God. I am so terrified. I am terrified that I’ll fail. That I’ll never be happy. That I’ll never live up to my own expectations or make good use of my potential. And I am so afraid that I no longer have the jitters. I am numb.
I no longer care. I just want it to be over with. I want to smile again. I don’t want to feel guilty for spending an hour doing something I love. I don’t want to sit and gaze at books. I don’t want to memorise. I don’t want to do this anymore.
I am not under depression. I do not have anxiety. I am not going crazy. I haven’t lost all hope. I am healthy and happy and fine. These are the lies I have been feeding myself. The ones that will help me sustain my facade until I am finally done with it all. Hopefully they hold together for that long.
I do not have the strength to continue writing this article.
I wish everyone writing their exams good luck. We don’t have to just survive this; we can beat it. It’s not a good idea to let this get to you, even though I’m no one to be saying that. We’re fighters. You fall, you get back up. Do it for you. Don’t do it for your neighbour or friend or relative or mailman or anybody else’s approval. Do it for yourself.