Prompt: Against All Odds
When I saw this prompt, the first thing that came to my mind, after a lot of searching, was my experience with a national level exam, JEE Mains. That exam changed my view of this country and my life.
We took a morning bus at 5 the day before the exam. We went to my examination center for the Venue of Test at nearly 8. As I was talking with my parents there, two girls of my age came with their admit cards. We talked to them. But when they said “We should bring admit cards. Bringing JEE application might also be helpful,” I can’t help feeling bad. I forgot my application at home! It wasn’t said in the bulletin that we had to bring it, so we forgot about it. So, we should go home and bring it. Such a waste. I wasn’t going to sleep somewhere else for the first time in my life (Yes I’ve never slept anywhere else except my home… during the night, at least). Fortunately, during those days, I used to get 100 MB of data (internet) for free on my phone. This time, I got 50 MB. I immediately downloaded the bulletin and searched for it. It said that we just have to bring the admit card. That’s all. So we went away from the school, in search of a place to stay.
It was getting hotter as noon was approaching. The previous night, we found a hotel which was available to book. We went there. An old man approached us and told us that all the rooms were booked. We lost hope. We didn’t find any other hotel near here.
We got on a bus to go to the central part of town. As we got off the bus and started wandering around, dad found a hotel. I’ve been telling him that I decided to go home. He said, as a last resort, we would ask them whether they had any rooms available. We went there. It seems they had.
In our room, I took out my books to study. The day passed rather slower than I thought. My parents were so bored. They weren’t prepared to sit or lie on bed silently, doing nothing. In the evening, we decided to get some fresh air and a break from the air conditioner of the room and my studies. As I was walking down the stairs, my foot slipped and I hurt my ankle. Going outside felt hard. Even as I walked up the stairs, and later sat on the bed, it hurt a lot.
That night, I couldn’t sleep at all. I remember hearing someone scream on the road when I woke up after midnight but went to sleep right after. The morning, I studied some formulae again and got ready to go.
The school was, of course, beautiful. With a big building and a nice combination of blue and white colors. What’s wrong about it was, the paint on the walls was cracking. The walls seemed very old. Oh well, at least the benches were big enough and there’s a working clock. I wrote the exam, met my mother’s friend and went home.
To those of you curious to know about my marks, I got 91/360. The qualifying marks were 100 for a general category (me), so I wasn’t qualified. But it was a nice try. And most of all, I learned a lot about myself, though in ways I can’t explain. I was also surprised by my own marks. To see that qualifying the exam was just 9 marks away. Equivalent to two right answers and preventing one wrong answer. I was so close, yet I thought I was so far away.
But, I am not disappointed. I did my best, like always. I accepted it with a smile. And I haven’t lost. What was etched into me through this experience was: Don’t give up until the last minute. You are closer to the goal than you think. As Paulo Coelho said, “If you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.”