My Stepping Stone to Greatness

I’m sure you’d have heard umpteen times how Dr.Ambedkar(or was it someone else?) studied beneath streetlights since his home didn’t provide a conducive atmosphere to study. Seems like that is a prerequisite for becoming one of the truly great. There are numerous chaps who have utilized streetlight, candlelight, whatever frigging light they could lay their hands upon, to put one over us, the teeming millions of well-provided yet lazy buggers to come forth in the later centuries. They were  screwed by life, they battle life( Cliched, isn’t it?) and they emerge victorious , discovering things, proving theorems, founding nations, whatever they felt like doing!! So, there seems to be a notion among parents that those of us who study(or pretend to study) under tube light are going nowhere unlike the heroes in the stories they are fond of reciting at us, who used those other lights to read and turn overnight into Giants. Well, I am pleased to announce that I am destined to be a giant of our times, by this yardstick of using-other-lights. You’ll see how, soon . 😛

Engineering students among you will know that Kerala University‘s most brilliant money-making scam is named ‘Improvement’. Once the results are out and the usual round of head-shaking and incredulous glances are over, next comes the mad rush to apply to ‘Improve’. There are 4 kinds of applicants –

1) The guys who know they won’t appear, but are doing it just for the sake of applying.

2) The guys who are not sure, but might as well try and improve if lucky.

3) The guys with rather low marks due to lazing during the regular exam, and who are determined that THIS time, yes surely THIS time , they will study their asses off and bloody IMPROVE.

4) The guys who have good marks , but get low marks in 2-3 subjects and are looking to bolster their GPA by whitewashing those blots off their marklist.

Me, I might as well put a thumbnail pic of mine ,beside the third category. I am the perfect example for it, because I’ve gone through the exact phase , after two out of two results. And you know what, things never bloody improve.

The reason Kerala University loves Improvement exams is that out of the 100 guys who applied, less than 20 turn up. Apart from odd members of the third and fourth categories mentioned above, the others scoot. Reasons may range from engagements with higher priority, pure laziness and the delight of a free day, not to be ruined by flunking an exam, for which no one bothers to study anyway. So, the K.U saves money, a lot of it. And even more when the Improvement comes in proximity of a regular exam of the current semester. Next to no one turns up, then.

This time around, all improvement/supplementary exams were sandwiched between s4 papers for us. Which kept the improvement-hopefuls away and God save those who had a supply.

So, to cut a short-story-made-unnecessarily-long-by-me short, I had applied to improve Logic System Design. One of the high-scoring papers, I had messed up in the regular exams getting a meagre 44 while both of my roomies scored around 80. So, in one of the resolve-to-change-your-life bouts after the result, I had promised myself I’d improve it. And that’s why I stuck to my decision, while my co-applicants refused to touch LSD with a ten-foot-pole as the exam neared. And the reason? LSD fell the day before the dreaded DSPM – Data Structures and Programming Methodology – was scheduled.

DSPM is a bad-ass paper even by normal standards. To say that it’s toughness was compounded by absolutely inept teaching would be… erm, partially true. Coz, it’s toughness WAS compounded  thousandfold. Not by inept teaching though. Because we weren’t taught ANYfuckinTHING at all. So, here I was , or most of us were, 2 days before the exam, and ‘Tree‘ still brought to my mind Acacia and Banyan trees, and ‘Graph‘s were still only used in maths and ‘Linked List‘….. You get the picture. And the previous year’s questions might as well have been in Chinese, for all I understood.

So, while everyone was panicking about DSPM, I did not back off from improving LSD because I thought the subject was easy and I knew it. I opened DSPM the day before LSD and ended up studying nearly nothing at all. As night neared , panic crept in, I had 2 exams in 2 days and I had no idea about the tougher subject and hadn’t studied the easier subject. I started reading LSD, but got sleepy pretty soon. Which was not a good thing coz I’m a night person. And I’d two and a half modules ( out of 3 :D) yet to finish .But there was no arguing against drooping eyelids and I hit the sack at ten, setting an alarm to wake me at 3:30.

I woke up at 3:30. Pitch black.Negotiated my way in between chairs and nasty-if-stepped-on oddities on the floor and reached the lights. Switched it on. Pitch black. Wait a minute. Panic started to rise. I pressed down harder on the switch. Still Pitch black. Realization dawns. The fan which I always leave on at full speed , was dead. And it was pitch black AND pin drop silence. I could hear the guys sleeping in the next room breathe. So, KSEB had screwed me. Royally. No current at three effing thirty in the morning. With the weather perfectly fine.

I thought, no big deal. Being the power-cut season, there was bound to be a set of candles somewhere. I searched in the dark, and sure enough , my hand struck wax. Thank God. No, wait. The candle was of no use without the lighter and it could be anywhere in a big dark house. Must have been ages since I saw the lighter, we always lighted our candles from the candle Aunty (Our house-owner who stays in another wing of the same house)  lighted and placed in the kitchen. So, I went lighter-hunting. No luck. Soon the ruckus I raised during the hunt, woke my friends up, who categorically declared that the lighter hadn’t been sighted in weeks and that I was screwed and that I’d better get back to sleep and that I was screwed, again.

I was in a tight corner. In CET slang, adichu kitti/ thechu kitti / thuppi kitti/… etc etc . College slangs are always rich in terms to describe messed up situations, aren’t they? Maybe that’s coz we’re perenially fucked up one way or the other in college. :D. Well, whatever, I was THE desp. I hadn’t touched DSPM to try and improve LSD, and now LSD was going down the drain. And I’d resolved that I WILL write this exam.

So, I was desperate. When you know what I did, you’ll know just HOW desperate. Ladies and Gentlemen, I studied under the backlight of my Nokia 6230i. Yeah, mobile phone backlight. :D. My faithful phone which had served me in many odd situations rose to the challenge with its life-saving sheen. The light was barely enough. It was arduous work,lighting each para of the Morris Mano with the phone ,the light moving with the eyes and pressing the red button every time the light died(after some time, I opened an mp3 file and kept the phone at low volume so that I wouldn’t have to keep on ‘refreshing’ the light).

So, the gravity of the situation and the thought of the extreme measure I took(You can’t sleep soundly, knowing your attention is capable of straying from a book when you’re trying to read it by mobile backlight)  kept me at it till 6.30, when it grew reasonably light outside . Then I went outside and read till 8.30. I was quite proud – oddly – to declare the extremes I would brave, to study. 😀 Roomies shook their head incredulously and declared I was a nutter. True.

Image courtesy:

So, I had crammed reasonably well, though I skipped some parts. And the exam turned out okay-ish, the kind of exam where you know things but still doesn’t feel very content upon exiting the hall. I believe I did reasonably well, to improve my marks by at least 10-12. Time will tell, with ample say for the university , of course.

So, hark, all you losers, make way for me, the true great of tomorrow’s world who braved the adversities life threw at me, by studying under mobilelight. I would bet, tomorrow would see your children learning how Abdul Raouf struggled in his childhood , before he reached the self-promised land of Greatness. 😉 Kidding? Time will tell. And again, with ample say for the university. 😀


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