The ICSE results were out. Her heart thumped like a Yo Yo Honey song. ICSE results seemed to assume Magna Carta-like propotions in a 16-year-old's life. She needed to go online to check her percentage. Online was better than the old system of 'notice board' results. Where everyone could compare.
Anxious parents, antsy students, jumping up and down trying to see the badly typed minuscule marksheets. Celebration and dismay were a public event. Here you could emote in the privacy of your bedroom. She'd slogged for five months. 'Rata lagake' mug mug mug. So much useless information blow torched into her brain — sub sets, the Siege of Troy, the Savanna Grasslands, the Supreme Court and its functions. Peer pressure… Ufff.
She knew she wanted to make the world environmentally conscious. So how would memorising Shakespeare's sonnets help in preventing global warming? But still an education was vital. Its lack was a serious stigma. She took a deep breath. She'd got 87.3 per cent. Really not bad by any normal standards.
But short of the magical and essential 90 per cent that got you admission into a 'good college'. She had expected at least 92 per cent. Now what? How would she get into St Xavier's. Life was so unfair. Her friend Charmaine had hardly studied. Spending half her time at the parlour and the other half partying.
She had got 60 per cent but would sail into Xavier's in the 'Catholic quota'. Her other friend Sakshi, a real dumb blonde, had managed 91 per cent. How was that possible. Another idiot friend, Bijli had waltzed into college on a 'sports quota' — 'sports quota'! Wasn't like Bijli would be the next Saina Nehwal.
Pic for representation only
Sure she could get into HR in the 'Sindhi quota', but they didn't have a canteen. I mean to share a wall with KC, that too, have your chai on the road. Jai Hind, she's heard, had improved. Plenty of extra-curricular activities.
What was with this ridiculous percentage 'chakkar'. What was Bombay University telling the kid — that at 80 per cent he/she was a duffer? That without a 90 per cent and above, your success in life was in question?
I mean, her pop had got a measly 55 per cent back in the '80s and he'd still managed a berth in Xavier's. He hadn't really studied. Had spent most of his college life, hanging around the canteen. And he'd done fine in life.
He'd never stayed up the entire night studying. No Hindi tuitions. No extra math classes. She looked at the computer again. What the hell. The 'Sindhi quota' beckoned.
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62 @gmail.com
The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper.