Ideally I should have been studying. Ideally I should not have gone for the marriage ceremony (studies is a good excuse for missing anything). Ideally I must not have watched the match. Ideally I must have been focused just on my studies. Actually, had I passed my exam six months earlier, this whole episode would have been not taken place. The day before a crucial examination must not be spent the way I spent it. Yes, there were things which I had to and wanted to do like attending my cousin sister’s marriage, but the other things could have been done away with.
The day was the 5th of November, 2009. My PCC (CA Inter) Examinations were to start the following day, the first paper being Advanced Accounting and as usual, I had left a dozen of the 30 odd chapters pending for the last moment. I believed I could complete them. A foolish thought to be honest. I truly believed at the time that I could complete the “leftover” dozen odd chapters each being atleast 15 pages in length in a matter of hours. Extraordinary times give rise to extraordinary demands and hopefully extraordinary willpower.
That day I had planned to get up at 6 in the morning but predictably came to my senses at 9. After forty five minutes of studying I had finished just one sum (I actually copied the answer) and I realised that this was tougher than I had imagined. I became regretful hoping I could get back the hours I had wasted loitering around till the wee hours in my colony during Diwali festivities when I didn’t touch my books. Then I lost some of my concentration, but skimmed through a couple of “chindi” topics. By 2 pm, I had enough. I couldn’t digest anything much I read from then on and my mind drifted to the joyous moment when the last paper would get over 10 days later, a time which seemed like a decade away.
I changed my clothes and got ready to leave for the ceremony. As my aunt had come from the USA, we would have to take two taxis. We reached MIG Cricket Club in Bandra at around 6 pm and went to the Hall where the ceremony was to take place. This was one of the few weddings wherein I knew who was getting married, a far cry from the weddings which I had previously attended when I would ask my mother just before meeting the couple, “Amma, who is getting married? How are we related to them?”
Throughout the ceremony I was preoccupied partly with thoughts of my incomplete studies and partly planning the celebrations I would have once the exams got over. It seemed so far away! I also had a vigilant eye out for distant relatives and unknown acquaintances who would come to me and say “Did you recognise me?” or “You look so much like your father,” or “if only you would put on weight, then nobody would make out the difference between you two!” I rolled my eyes thinking “I’ve heard that before.”
In between I had been going down to the Lobby Area to catch glimpses of the cricket match between India and Australia. The series was tied at 2-2 and India had to win that match if we wanted to win the series. Unfortunately, the Aussies batted first on a flat Hyderabad wicket and put 359 runs on the board. India had lost wickets and were in trouble, but Sachin was still batting and that gave us hope. Hope – it can be dangerous sometimes. It gives you the feeling that you can do it. It takes you to the brink of victory and then our intelligent mind comes up with a really interesting question which spoils our concentration, “Can we really do this? Is this so easy? Nah, there has to be a speed bump somewhere.” What follows is a loss of focus and a resultant loss and the familiar feeling of disappointment which leaves thinking, “Don’t worry, there always a next time. We gave our best and that’s what’s important.” The difference between belief and hope – certainty. When you have belief every fiber in your body thinks that you can do it, but when you have hope, it’s different.
I became restless by 8 pm and quickly ate and asked if we could leave, after all I had an important examination the next day. I, my Grandmother and Father said quick goodbyes and left the Hall by 9pm. When reached home at a quarter to ten, I promptly changed my clothes, set my books on the table and prepared to burn midnight oil. I then looked at the television. Big mistake. Curiosity set in. “I wonder what the score is.” I switched on the TV and half expected to watch the post match presentation. But what I saw gave me hope. Hope of a record breaking chase. Hope that Sachin would score a double century. Hope that India would win.
38 overs had been bowled and we had an outside chance of winning. Sachin was in sublime touch. I leaned back into the arm chair and thought to myself, “I’ll watch just a couple of overs”. Deep inside I knew I would be sitting in that comfortable arm chair for a little while longer.
The match’s ending was heartbreaking. We could have won if it hadn’t been for Ravindra Jadeja’s over enthusiasm. Sachin had been dismissed at 175 and missed out on a chance of scoring the first Double Century in ODI Cricket, something he would accomplish a few months later against the South Africans. Dejected, I sat down for studying. I had planned to study till 2 and get at 6 in a frenzied attempt to cover up and hopefully understand whatever chapters that were left to be completed. I had a good spell of concentration for an hour and covered a fair bit of ground. My mother then came to me when it was 12 and told me, “You better go to sleep now. You can get up early in the morning and study.” A thought was planted. Yes. I had to sleep. 6 hours of sleep is absolutely necessary for a human being to remain healthy. Oh God, my health will get spoilt if I stay awake till late at night. Within moments a little seed blossomed into a tree. I had trouble sitting down. I then noticed how hard and uncomfortable the plastic chair I was sitting in was while the bed and soft pillow suddenly seemed so inviting.
“Ok”, I replied and went to sleep. Luckily the sleep was good, something which is hard to come by a day before the exam. I got up at 6 the next morning and actually studied. It’s normal for me to have butterflies in my stomach on the day of an Examination, but the first exam is generally a bit more frantic and tense. As I entered the Exam Hall, I was even more sweaty and tense, hoping and praying that the Exam would be postponed, but it wasn’t to be. In a few minutes, the question papers were handed out and then I thought how could I sit in one place for three hours if I didn't know anything! The sense of panic increased momentarily. But when I saw the first question I thought “I know this," and smiled to myself, "maybe this isn’t so hard after all.” That gave me hope – maybe I could pull this off.
Note: Even though I did not clear PCC in that attempt, I got an exemption in Accounts and Costing. I finally cleared PCC in November 2010.