A Timeline of Exam Results: Fret, Fake Confidence, Flip Out


A Timeline of Exam Results: Fret, Fake Confidence, Flip Out

Illustration: Arati Gujar

“Aaya kya?”

“Nahi re.”

[30 seconds later]

“Aaya kya?”

“Nahi re.”

If there is one thing worse than SSC board exam preparations, it is the anticipation of the SSC board exam results. In India, there’s summer, winter, monsoon, and result season. Right now, we’re into result season, with certain boards having already announced results, while others planning to roll them out over the coming week. If you thought there was hype for Avengers: Infinity War or the Royal Wedding, you have never been in a student’s shoes – because the SSC results hype surpasses all of that.

You were first made to put in hours of studying that borderline violate international child labour laws. Then came the plethora of mock exams that ensured your life became a mockery. Eventually it all boiled down to the big exam, where the pressure of a Dhoni finish was put on the shoulders of a 15-year old.

Because everything you ever want to be in life is going to depend on this two-digit percentage score (three, if you are Sharma ji ka ladka). Whether you get into the best college, whether you land a good job, whether you get good marriage proposals, want to go to Jupiter someday, everything hinges on this magical number.

The closer you get to the announcement of the results, a part of your soul keeps dying like Lord Voldemort’s. Or in the words of Linkin Park, the clock ticks life away…

Twelve years ago, when I was awaiting my SSC results, the clock seemed to tick my life away too. The night before my results, I couldn’t sleep. Much like the Congress party before the Karnataka results, I spent the night playing out all permutations and combinations about how much I was going to score in my head. “If the checking is lenient, I can easily get 70/75 in Algebra.” “What if I fail Marathi?” “Will mum and dad throw me out of the house?” “What if the University lost my paper?” “Did I tie my Geometry paper well, what if the supplements come off?” “What if I wrote the incorrect roll number on the History paper?”

I was prepared to score anywhere between 40-90 per cent. It was immaterial how I had done in the exams, because that felt a lifetime ago. I’d eventually cry myself to sleep.

When you wake up on the morning that the results are due to be announced, the build-up is already there. Everyone in your family has that fake smile plastered on their face – a ruse to mask the barely controlled hysteria that threatens to break through at any moment – expecting you to shit diamonds today. They look at you with those hopeful eyes that Bollywood media people reserve for Taimur Ali Khan. You might be an atheist but you automatically visit the temple that day, call for the dahi-cheeni from your grandma, give alms to the shani maharaj guy on the street, and pray for a good score, knowing very well that God isn’t in the market of on-demand services. If he didn’t intervene during all the wars and the bombings, he surely doesn’t give a shit about your Geography score. But trying doesn’t cost any money.

When the page loads, the eyes automatically hone in on the key details the same way Modi ji’s catch the camera in any part of the room.

With all that preparation, you finally get down to check the website just to make sure that the results aren’t out at 10 am even though they said they’ll be out at 2pm. Because anybody who thinks you need to learn integration and differentiation, cannot be trusted. That’s when you realise you’ve forgotten your roll number and a frantic search for the hall ticket ensues. You’ve entered the number so many times, you didn’t think it was possible to forget it – but give a kid a two-month vacation and he’ll even forget his parents and siblings.

As the day progresses, you get calls from relatives wanting to make small talk with you about your “future” and how you should not worry. Which obviously has the opposite effect on you. There’s always that one asshole in the building who will joke, “Don’t worry, Ram Lal Anand Evening mein toh admission mil hi jayega heheheh!” Just what you want to hear when you’re feeling like you’ve been on the inside of a pressure cooker.

As the clock nears 2 pm, the panic intensifies on the school WhatsApp group. Predictions are made and bets – that would put Gurunath Meiyappan to shame – are placed. Someone declares that results are out and everyone starts refreshing their browser furiously but it turns out, it’s news that originated in the Department of WhatsApp. Capital punishment for the people who spread these lies would not be enough.

By now, you’re in a dire need of a pacemaker. You try to sneak out to a quiet place so you can check your results at a place where you’ll be alone. But parents know better, ever since they caught you masturbating, they won’t leave you alone in any room, ever. They stand behind your shoulder, as you keep on refreshing the browser and watch the website crash like your hopes and dreams.

After a few unsuccessful attempts, words of wisdom will flow from the elderly “Try after five minutes. Everyone must be checking now”. They all disperse. But you’ve not given up, because this is your moment to quietly see it before everyone else. As you continue refreshing, the text has changed from “Results likely to be announced” to “Results announced”. Your heart comes to a standstill.

You enter your roll number, check it twice. You enter the captcha, press submit, your fingers already starting to tremble. When the page loads, the eyes automatically hone in on the key details the same way Modi ji’s catch the camera in any part of the room. You verify your name, read PASS, and mentally note the two-digit number that is going to change your life.

And then, you heave a sigh of relief as the landline, mother’s phone, father’s phone and your cell phone all start ringing at the same time.

For all you poor sods expecting your results today, our sympathies. We get it. If you score 100 per cent, you will have to do it every time for the rest of your life. Anything less is a disappointment, and you’ll be told you could have done better. But don’t worry, no matter how low you score, Ram Lal Anand Evening mein toh admission mil hi jayega.