VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE…………
It was not a stormy day though it ought to have been. A day with the usual Chennai sun blazing away to glory. Nothing in the air suggested anything untoward. Incidentally it also happened to be Valentine’s Day. Also the first day of our quiz 1. For the fourth semester. The exam for that day was of phase transformation
I always looked forward to my first exam for phase transformation. The reason for this strange yearning lay in the fact that it was going to be my first open book exam. Those people not accustomed to this paradoxical concept, it is an exam in which you are allowed to bring your notes to. Funny, but something we all dream of. The night before the exam I had a terrific time going to every room and mentioning cheekily what a pity it was that they had to work so hard for the next day’s exam. While all I had to do was go through the pages once and ensure I wake up in time.
Well, that little detail about getting up on time did me in. Over confidence led to utter disregard for a certain crucial element- setting the alarm. Under usual circumstances, I have strategically placed alarms in three vantage points in my room. These points were decided on by me after some complex geometrical calculations, for I needed them to be at the farthest positions from where I sleep. Topping the three mechanical alarms, I also repose faith in human alarms. Namely, my wonderful neighbors who happen to believe that getting up early in the morning is a good thing to do. But my pertinent taunting the previous night as mentioned above resulted in them “accidentally” forget that I too needed to be awakened. So much for the human alarms then.
So, in view of this catastrophic failure of my convoluted wake-up buzzer system, it was not surprising that on waking up I was slightly ruffled. The time which my watch dial showed suggested that unless I had been bitten by a radio-active spider or had kryptonite shoved down my throat while I slept the chances of me making to the exam-hall in time was close to naught. Nevertheless, I pulled off an astonishing performance and found myself in the hall only seven minutes late and totally out of breath. I had missed the initial instructions but considered that after all there was nothing more to know about.
I sat on the first row with none of my batch mates in the near vicinity.
Of course, in all this rush, I had not forgotten the all too precious notes. With a song on my lips and mirth in my heart I took up the question paper and glanced through it. Just as I anticipated, it was a piece of cake, rather a slice of pizza as the Italians would put it. Three direct theory-based questions preceded by a long numerical which was the only thing which required me to work the grey cells. The concept based questions required direct lifting of material from the notes. So I wondered the need for having an open book exam. It seemed a futile exercise. It was more like, in terms of Microsoft word a test of one’s copy and pasting skills. On the other hand I told myself not be concerned about such mundane stuff ad rather concentrate on replicating things properly. So I laid out my notes and got down to business. Time flew and before I could realize I had only five minutes and the whole numerical remained to be completed. I had taken so much care to write the rest that my time management suffered significantly. I managed a shoddy solution and submitted the paper. Incidentally, we were also supposed to attach the question paper with it. Something which had escaped my mind altogether. Thankfully, I become conscious of it immediately and asked for my sheets back. Prof Haridoss handed them back and I attached the question paper. On resubmitting began the legendary conversation which will haunt me for a long long time.
He asked,” Have you attached the formulae sheet?”
I replied with a frown,” Which formulae sheet?”
“The one you had with you. The one in which you wrote all the formulas for the exam.”
“I didn’t have one. All the things I required were in my notes”.
“Notes! You mean you had your notes with you? Why?”
“Why? What why? It was an open book exam! That’s why!”
“Open book exam! Who told you that? I had specifically told in class that only formulas were to be brought and then the sheet attached to the answer paper.”
“What! You mean….. You mean…..I mean…..mean…well…..oh god!”
I was speechless. I was without speech.
“Yes, you are right. It was NOT an open book exam. I think someone needs to do some explaining here.”
“Well, basically sir, what I thought was………….”
What happened next is yet another long story. Surprised, stunned, dazed, upset, traumatized, appalled are some adjectives which can barely describe my state then. Prof Haridoss was as shaken as I was. He never knew that ignorance and stupidity could reach such depths. Just imagine. Those 50 minutes in the hall, I happily sat with my notes strewn over the desk copiously noting down the smallest detail and no one even noticed. And not for a second did I comprehend that something was horribly wrong. Whenever, I think about it I can’t help but laugh….To salvage some lost position I did ask him not to mark me for all the theory questions in spite of all this being unintentional.
Nonetheless, from now on I deserve some respect. For I am Sayan. Lord of the Idiots.