Kushal - a CA student - was heading home late at night from the CA office where he was an article. Exhaustion and frustration accompanied him along with the darkness as he walked on the lonely lane towards his home. It had been few months since he joined the CA office as an article after clearing the CA-inter exams. The “Article-life” was a potpourri of both pains and pleasures. The fun with the fellow friends was mingled the scolds of his good yet strict Principal and seniors; Lots of practical learning along with piles of files on his table. If you ask Kushal about his enemies, “March” and “September” would top the list!
Well, as of now, Kushal didn’t have any idea that this very night would be a turning point in his life when he would meet someone entirely unexpected…
As he turned right, he stopped short. An eerie figure, clothed in black cloak and hooded, was standing in front, blocking his way. Dread clutched at his heart as instinct told him that something wasn’t right.
“Who-Who are you?” Kushal spoke, his heart pumping wildly.
The figure glided closer to him. Kushal, though he wanted to back off, was rooted to spot as fear froze him.
And then the figure spoke, not in some sort of ominous, dread-filling voice as Kushal expected, but rather in a firm, quiet voice: “I am Mr. CA exam! People, funnily enough, call me as Ghost of CA Exam!”
“What?” Kushal gasped in disbelief, wanting to run, to shout. Something utterly maddening was happening tonight.
“G-g-g-GO!” Kushal stammered in shock, hoping this was all a nightmare, a mere dream.
“Why are you so afraid, Kushal?” the ghost spoke, sounding slightly disappointed, “I’ve come to chat with you!”
Something in the ghost’s voice abated Kushal’s fears. Kushal mustered up the courage and spoke: “You are the ghost of CA exam; you pop up in a dark lane freaking me out and you ask why I am afraid? Are you kidding? My heart came in my mouth!”
“Oh…I am sorry I frightened you, but you see, I am the fear of CA exam and humans have to face their fears at the most unexpected moment!” The ghost justified earnestly.
“Well…” Kushal chose his words carefully, “People, especially us –the students –are afraid of you. I meant no offence, but of all the exams in the world, you are the most feared!”
At this remark, the ghost sighed sadly, “I don’t know when you all guys will start understanding me…such misunderstanding pains me.” Perplexed, Kushal asked: “Er-Mr. CA Exam - why so sad? And that’s not a misunderstanding. We all know that CA exams are damn toughest. I thought I was complimenting you!”
“Yeah…I am tough, technical, tricky, and vast. Alright, but why it has to mean that I am bad? Eh? You all guys really have the annoying knack of taking me badly when, in fact, I yearn to help you all! Why? Am I so abysmal? ” The Ghost asked with a plea in its voice.
Kushal had his reply ready, “I’ll give you one example, O’ Ghost that's why CA exams are indeed tough! We all articles work day and night for almost three years, and still we are expected to clear away the CA finals – the eight faced monster – merely by studying 4 or 5 months during leave! Now, tell me, how the hell –
The ghost intervened sharply, “What if I told you that you can definitely clear your exams just by taking, as you say, 4 or 5 months leave? Would you believe that?”
Kushal hesitated, and then said in an obvious tone, “Probably you would tell us the usual cliché stuff – confidence, faith, discipline, willpower. Mr. Ghost, we all have heard of that! There’s nothing new in it. I must -
“Now, now, now!” The ghost interrupted defiantly, flapping its black cloak, “These are the timeless stuffs, you can’t deny! Confidence, Faith, etc are the fundamentals to anything you do! But yes, I think your ears will be pleased to hear that I won’t tell you those things. You guys, nowadays, are smart enough to know them. I will tell you something which you haven’t heard before; something really practical and handy and not just theory; something which would alter your thought process and the way you view your CA exams and Article-ship days!”
What the ghost just said piqued Kushal’s interest. Could there really be something worth hearing. He urged eagerly, “Okay! Go on, Mr CA Exam. I am all ears!”
“I am going to give you four mantras,” The ghost spoke, clearly delighted at Kushal’s keenness to know, “You see, I was born in CA day, in 1949. So, over the years I have known many experiences. I’ve designed certain innovative mantras that are downright practical in this age of modernity. And which, I assure you, will be a Success Sauce to all you guys. Well, the first mantra is “Hobby it up”
“Hobby it up?” Kushal voiced his confusion as if some unknown language has been spoken.
“Yeah, Hobby it up – we all have hobbies, don’t we? Some like to dance, to sing or to play guitar to write and sort of. The point is we love our hobbies. We genuinely make efforts to hone our hobbies and try hard for a classic performance.”
“Yes, of course, but what that has to do with CA!” Kushal asked.
The ghost replied: “It has everything to do with CA. Listen, why don’t you guys make your CA days as your second hobby! Why not see the CA subjects from an interesting, hobby-angle instead of considering it as burdensome and troublesome. It’s just a psychology, you know. If I give you a good novel, you will finish it up in few days. Likewise, think CA subjects as a good novel and you cannot help but savour it with delight!”
“You have a good point...” Kushal said, “I haven’t thought of CA from that angle before -The hobby-angle! Despite, CA subjects being technical, every subject has “certain chapters” that are really interesting. It’s not 100 % technical, if truth be said!”
“Yes!” The ghost resumed, “You got the point. From every subject, carve out which chapters are naturally interesting; it might be some accounting standards, some enlightening tax provisions. Treat them as your hobby. And you will start reading them with love rather than loath! You don’t have to rely fully on tuitions. And the best part is, when your article-ship is over and CA exams are approaching, you will have got the expert grasp of your hobby-chapters! They won’t feel like alien topics!”
“Yeah...that’s good. And even if a particular chapter is hard, we have to pretend them as a hobby. And apply the principle ‘fake it till you take it!’ isn’t it?” Kushal offered.
“Nicely stated, Kushal, and now, be ready for the second innovative mantra – ROR!”
“Huh? ROR? Rocket science, I think!” Kushal wondered.
“Well, ROR is the abbreviation of “Rule of Rewarding”. See, I know very well, that you CA students really enjoy your article-ship period despite the tough times. You love to hang out with fellow friends. Movies, picnics, get-togethers, restaurants are the cool stuff you like to enjoy, isn’t it?” the ghost asked.
“Well, yeah. These are stress busters.” Kushal said, pondering what it has to do with ROR.
“And so comes the ‘Rule of Rewarding’!” the ghost proclaimed with enthusiasm, “Think, Kushal, think! Suppose, it is Sunday; you guys have planned to go for a movie in the evening. Now, consider this ‘movie’ as a reward. What is a reward? It’s a prize you get for your hard work or achievement. Now, before you watch this movie, you vow yourself to complete a chapter or topic of your CA subject. The very idea that you are going to earn a reward for your achievement - completing or learning a topic or chapter or your tuition homework – will work wonders for you! The ‘Reward’ image in your mental eye will motivate you and compel you to do something! Remember, we all relish our rewards only if we have done something good or achieved a purpose. Getting fake rewards for nothing is hollow as it sounds! ”
“Ingeniously Interesting Idea!” Kushal exclaimed, feeling a rush of pure excitement coursing through him, “That’s bombshell technique! Our CA office will plan a picnic in coming month. What if I view that as a “Big reward” and start working hard in my practical training and complete certain chapters on my own. If that is the case, I can enjoy the picnic much more than I would have normally! The Rule of Rewarding is indeed a motivating booster not only for CA students but for anyone, anywhere!”
“Indeed!” The ghost bowed in pleasure, “And speaking of article-ship period, you can reap real benefits from your practical training by following third mantra: the Principle of SOS!
“Save our Souls?” Kushal guessed.
“No, dear friend,” the ghost said, “Seek out Solution. It’s the technique that’ll help you get into the very root of the problem and dig out the actual solution. And, incredibly, it’ll allow you grasp the CA subjects more profoundly than ever. You all guys do audits, taxation matters and so on. In all such work, you encounter various problems, provisions, tricky accounting and taxation treatments. What do you do?”
“Well, we consult our seniors to sort out,” Kushal answered.
The ghost resumed, “Yeah, that’s good. But have you ever thought of looking for answers in the CA subjects?”
“Well, no...But how would it benefit?” Kushal voiced his confusion.
“Well, well. Let me give you an example. You must have observed that whenever you are reading a theory that you have already encountered in practical life, then it’s easy to understand the theory than it would have, had you not faced in practical?”
“Yeah,” Kushal said, understanding dawning on him, “For instance, I was taught to file income tax return in our office and when I read it in books, it was easy to understand. But, some of my friends who hadn’t done any practical on filing returns found the theory hard to digest.”
“Exactly!” the ghost nodded, “The same holds good when you encounter a problem in office or in audit. At that time, your mind is focused on the problem in hand. Believe me; if, at that very moment, you look into the books for solution, you understand the theory conceptually and deeply. This type of theoretical understanding with a practical base gets deeply ingrained in your mind and you don’t have to mug up that particular topic!”
“Great, indeed!” Kushal marvelled, vowing to apply this simple yet powerful technique in an audit assignment he was working on.
The ghost raised its arms in a gesture of welcome and continued, “Well, I won’t take much of your time, Kushal, and tell you the final mantra that will assist you in your exams or in any wake of your life. It’s called the art of Finishing the Race! It’s a wonderful conviction related to a runner running in a race. Imagine the runner is about to complete the race. He or she is just a few feet away from the finishing line. And just when he’s an inch from touching the line, he stops abruptly and walks away, not completing the race fully!”
“Whoa! No one in their right mind would commit such stupidity! Just an inch away from the line and you give up! No way!”
“Yeah...but, unfortunately, many students in the race to become CA, gives up when they are so astonishingly close to completing the course! I’ve seen many of them: some gives up after CA-inter, some quits after passing a group in the finals and some, surprisingly enough, succumbs to the tension on the day before the exams, even when their preparation is well up to the mark! Such sheer folly!”
“It’s a bitter truth...” Kushal agreed, sadly thinking about some of his friends who did so.
“Winners are not those who win the race but those who complete it!” The ghost emphasised on, “Complete the game rather than quitting. One may argue that sometimes the fear, exhaustion and tension are too much to cope with. But mark my words: When you feel the rawness of fear inside you, when you think you in the brink of exhaustion and you can’t take it anymore, know that you are on the right track! For genuine fears and exhaustions are real friends disguised as fears. The runner who is just seconds away to complete the race feels the same fear and exhaustion. It is then, the runner realises that he or she has to ‘push on just a bit more’ to complete the race and feel the resulting euphoria and contentment. That is the real sense of accomplishment; that truly is success. And so, ends my little chat with you. I hope you are not so sleepy enough to forget them!”
“Simply superb mantras, O’ Ghost of CA Exam,” Kushal bowed, feeling a rush of gratitude and awe, “I must say you aren’t a ghost but an angel disguised as ghost! The four mantras of ‘Hobby it up’, ‘Rule of Rewarding’, ‘Seek out Solution’ and ‘Finishing the Race’ are indeed resourceful in every wake of life. These life-changing mantras, brewed together in right balance, would indeed cook a delicious Sauce of Success!”
“Yes. You can share these mantras with your friends. The more you share, the more you savour. Well, then, allow me take your leave.” The ghost said, raising its arms in a gesture of farewell.
“Where are you going?”
“Oh” the ghost said, “I’ve lots of work to do – Visiting other students, scaring them out in midnight and sharing these four mantras!”