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Posted at: Mar 10, 2018, 2:44 AM; last updated: Mar 10, 2018, 2:44 AM (IST)GIRLS@GUPSHUP

Oof! Exams!

Oof! Exams!
Illustration by Sandeep Joshi

Aradhika Sharma

The dreaded Board exams can transform every Indian mother into a raging virago! As soon as the exams are on the horizon, this usually sweet and indulgent lady transmutes into a strict disciplinarian. Like a zealous Subedaar Major in the Army, she watches her child with narrowed and suspicious eyes, trying to see if s/he actually studying or only pretending to. For this duration, her child is not her beloved progeny  but is more like an Army recruit who must be disciplined, motivated and strong-armed into vanquishing the enemy (namely the Boards)!

At the lunch table, when Sabrina refused her favourite pav bhaji, we were all concerned.

Shobha: You haven't been yourself lately, Sabrina. Is all okay?

Sabrina stared into space. She seemed to be doing some mental calculations.

Monica:  Sabrina, is everything fine? You've been distracted and haven't been regular at office either. 

Mandy: I know what it is! Arjun is appearing for his 12th Boards! It’s exam anxiety, isn’t it Sabrina?

Sabrina (sighs): Yes, I’m not sleeping at all and am palpitating all the time!  The most irritating thing is thateveryone is always telling me to chill. How am I supposed to ‘chill’ when my son, instead of swatting, has locked himself in his room and is playing some horrible, loud music?

Mandy: Detestable word, this ‘chill’!

Monica (munching on cucumber): Terrible! Sounds so patronising! But happens to the best of moms! Why, my own mother, who is the gentlest woman in the world, had turned into a banshee when I gave my 12th Boards! She would go into a frenzy whenever she saw me without books. She actually made me a timetable by which I was supposed to be studying for 18 hours a day!

Mandy: My mom was the kill-with-kindness variety! She’d forever be hovering around, giving me ‘nutritious’ food and drinks. I’d gained 9 kg by the time I was done with my exams!

Me: And my mom was constantly guiding and advising me. Her gyan-giving was maddening actually, because I knew what I had to do and how much to study!

Sabrina: Well, I can totally empathise with your mothers. We’re the ones who suffer the most during exams, and there’s zero support for us! I mean, where’s the helpline we should call when we’re feeling depressed and frustrated or just want to commit suicide?

Me: Relax! Breathe deeply.

Sabrina: Humph! Hyperventilating would be more like it!

Monica: You should try those child- support techniques they keep talking about. Those may help you — and Arjun — deal with the anxiety.

Mandy: Yes, have you tried identifying Arjun’s strengths and weaknesses? That’s important.

Sabrina: Well, I've listed his weaknesses a thousand times to make him realise he needs to work on them!

Monica: That’s not too smart, Sabrina! Have you tried making him feel secure?

Sabrina: Actually, I've told him that if he gets less than 90 per cent, he’ll have to do menial jobs.

Me: Encouraged group study?

Sabrina: And give him carte blanche to flake out with his friends? No way!

We all looked at each other with a single thought. Then Mandy spoke it out: You know what Sabrina, there's just one thing you need to do to get through the exams.

Sabrina: Really? Pray what?

Everyone (chorus): Chill, Sabrina, chill!


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