O’ Level results and all the people I must please

Published: August 15, 2012
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Her son didn’t tell me his result, must have been bad. Useless boy!

Is it just me or did every long lost relative have a big red circle around the date August 13, 2012 on their calendars? On this date they dusted up their phone books and called you or your parents – after lord knows how many months of not acknowledging your existence – just to inquire about your  Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) results.

Typical Pakistani mentality. Read: Poke your nose into everything.

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t your result something personal? In my opinion, you should control the right to share it with whoever you choose to share it with. This right, however, is usually ignored because you get a call from some aunt or the other asking:

“Haan beta, kya bana?”

(So what was your result child?)

There you sit fuming and biting your lips, but you pretty much are left with no choice but to tell them the truth because well, it will be rude and disrespectful otherwise. Not only are bad manners assumed against you but by not telling them they have the right to infer that you probably got a bad result and are too ashamed to tell anyone. The next thing you know, they have called the entire family up and have told them just that.

“Haan uske betay ne result nahi bataya, bura he hoga. Nikamma kahin ka.”

(Her son didn’t tell me his result, must have been bad. Useless boy.)

It is here that you are faced by a predicament. If you got good results, then you don’t have anything to worry about and you can ignore whatever the aunties stir up, but God forbid you didn’t get good results! All hell will break loose and their predictions will have you whimpering for mercy.

But wait a minute, what exactly is a good result? How many A’s do you have to have to protect your family’s honour? Let’s try and understand a simple fact here; not everyone can get straight A’s because then the world will only comprise of the likes of Ali Moeen Nawazish! I’m sorry parents, but it is true. Don’t pressurise your child any more than he or she already is. He knows exactly how important this result is for him or her and everyone else concerned. Contrary to what you may believe, students don’t get bad grades ‘on purpose’.

These students who get straight A’s have ruined our parent’s and society’s expectations. In Pakistan your worth is solely based on how you perform in your exams – more specifically, how many A’s you get. At times you score say four or five A’s out of ten. You’re very happy because these are way more than what you actually expected to get. You’re on cloud number  nine and no one can bring you down.

At this very moment, you get an unexpected phone call from a nosy relative, who forgets to wish you on your birthday but would never forget the day of your results. So they politely ask you about your grades and you eagerly tell them, proud of your achievements. Sadly, this is the same relative whose obnoxious child scored straight A’s in his CIE’s. Your relative immediately consoles you saying you’ll do better next time and not everyone can score straight A’s like their gem of a child.

Yes, that’s right, not everyone can score straight A’s! Let me assure you that getting straight A’s in all your subjects isn’t exactly a walk in the park. But wait a minute, you were pretty happy with your results a while ago and suddenly you are not because they don’t seem good enough to you any more. The realisation that you’ve let your parents down hits you hard and depresses you badly. All because of one phone call.

In Pakistan anything beneath a B is considered the biggest offence ever. Cambridge may consider an A* to a C to be a good grade but who makes them the authority on your grades? Please, your family knows best, and what’s better than an A grade?

In Pakistan you don’t just have your parent’s expectations to fulfill, but you are beleaguered by the responsibility of taking into account every single relative’s expectations as well. The biggest worry which all my friends and I have faced is what we would tell our relatives if we got a ‘bad result’? Would we lie? Ignore their calls? Commit suicide? What exactly should a person do when they don’t want someone poking their nose into their business?

Correct me if I’m wrong but I get the feeling that if you don’t do well some relatives actually get a kick out of it. Really, I am serious. They are happy because their niece or nephew did bad in their exams because it makes their son and daughter look better in comparison. Insecurity some would call it. I tag it as pure malevolence.

All I’d like to say to everyone who is itching to their their neighbour’s grandosn’s result is:

Please do not call the students who just got their results, no matter how curious you are. If they want to share their results they will call you. If they don’t, well then maybe they don’t want ‘you’ to know. So take a hint and let them be.

Follow Rameeza on Twitter @Rameezay

Rameeza Ahmad

Rameeza Ahmad

In my free time I am a literature buff, amateur writer and aspiring foodie. She tweets @Rameezay (twitter.com/Rameezay)

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