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)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Salman

    Results are not supposed to be something personal.If they were, why are they put up on notice boards?Recommend

  • Imaad

    @Salman: Which CIE results are put up on notice boards? My school always gave them privately to every student. Plus even if they are put up on notices, they are only seen by the students themselves and other students, not relatives and extended families.Recommend

  • tj

    the situation isnt as bad as you have painted.Recommend

  • Adil Faqah

    Okay that is all great and stuff. But what on Earth is a “grandosn”? Is that German?Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/asad.k.shaikh asadshaikh

    “correct me if i am wrong”…..but you have used this sentence much too oftenRecommend

  • VivaLaRevolution

    “Typical Pakistani mentality.” What is this supposed to mean? I feel insulted.

    “These students who get straight A’s have ruined our parent’s and society’s expectations.”
    Do you want us to apologize?

    “getting straight A’s in all your subjects isn’t exactly a walk in the park.” It is.

    The reason A grades are very important is so that you can get into a good university. Universities won’t give you admission because you are a cool dude but because of your grades.
    Don’t want to tell your relatives? Do just that, don’t tell them. That is what I do. Not because my grades are bad but i just find them very nosy and annoying.Recommend

  • Asif

    @VivaLaRevolution:
    The message of this article is to show the mentality of elders in the families by comparing children through the number of ‘A’ grades they score, which is a stupid thing.

    If you feel insulted by reading an article, then you are a jerk.
    No one wants you to apologize.

    “The reason A grades are very important is so that you can get into a good university. Universities won’t give you admission because you are a cool dude but because of your grades.
    Don’t want to tell your relatives? Do just that, don’t tell them. That is what I do. Not because my grades are bad but i just find them very nosy and annoying.”
    – Every one knows that obvious thing, no need for telling that again.Recommend

  • Sigh!

    @tj. It differs from family to family. Some of these relatives are really annoying.
    I agree with the writer. But its not always because of that jealousy factor. Sometimes they just have this ‘expectation’ for no reason. Parents can have that but why would your grand-dad care whether you get straight A’s or not? Its just really stupid. Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/asad.k.shaikh asadshaikh

    i did o levels..just got 2 As,, A levels, C,D,E…still got admission in a medical university…did my mbbs …and now am a doctor. The point is nobody asks about my O and A grades now that i am a doctor. As for relatives when they asked i told them i got 6A and 3As’ respectively :PRecommend

  • VivaLaRevolution

    @Asif:
    “Every one knows that obvious thing, no need for telling that again.”
    Sometimes you have to remind them. Why do you want to be on good terms with annoying relatives? My point being that you can take a stand. Don’t think that you are being a bad person just because you don’t like some nosy aunty. Tell them straight up what you think of them.

    “So many people remain annoying just because nobody tells them they are.”
    ^ I toned down the obscenities in that quote, but the message remains the same.Recommend

  • http://www.hidhydians.com Ahmer Qureshi

    I am pleased to read this article and have to say the situation matches what I saw on the result day, my dearest friend was getting phone calls from his mom’s uncle who does not even call on his birthday asking him his grades, which is just sad, if he would have wanted everyone to know his grades he would have, and trust me he got an amazing result of 3 A’s and B at As Level which is an amazing feat. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Gosh you’ve said it like it should be said. What you describe has been going on for ages. Once you go through this phase, in the next one will be judged according to your job and the money you make and it goes on and on. Recommend

  • FDR

    If you’re in O Levels, well it holds to reason that you would think all this was a bigger deal than it really is! 3 years on no one will give a damn lolRecommend

  • Tooba

    @Salman:
    its a diff thing for jobs..obv we all study for our careers and at the time of interview you cant hide anything…but in family or in friends..I agree with her..results are something personal..it has nothing to do with other aunties..they only need a topic like alwaysRecommend

  • Tooba

    @tj:
    depends upon the result..at times it is this badRecommend

  • Tooba

    @VivaLaRevolution:
    every student has its own capability..every student even if they are willing cannot score straight A’s..i Can say this because my younger sister is like this..she wants to study but there are barriers..she is improving gradually and her results batter than satisfactory but still not there yetRecommend

  • Tooba

    “Cambridge may consider an A* to a C to be a good grade ”
    my brother got 2 A’s and all B’s in his O’level..and what he heard from my dad is the worst thing happened to him..
    parents should not pressurize their kids..we understand you are worried about our future and your family honour but they need to understand every child is not a genius..if one child in a family scores straight A’s doesnot means your child can do the same..your child will do what he CAN DO…B’s or C’s is not the end of your world..accept it they are good grades..atleast B’sRecommend

  • fatima

    @Salman:
    cie results are not displayed on notice boards like our so-called matriculation results.CIE considers it to be something personal that is why they gave each candidate their password so that no one else gets the access to other candidate’s result.Recommend

  • fatima

    @VivaLaRevolution:
    Giving so much importance to A’s and running after them is what pakistani mentality is.Grades are important , no doubt.But an A is’nt necessarily a good grade for each and every student.Each and every grade has it’s own significance in a candidates life.A “C” grade in math might be as good as an “A” for a students who has got a U throughout his life in maths.
    I donot completely agree with you.No doubt , grades are a lot important bu they donot always refelct a student’s true ability.And therefore , universities take into consideration a lot of other factors too other than your grades.There decision is’nt wholely and solely based on an applicant’s grades.Recommend

  • fatima

    @asadshaikh:
    haha.lol.
    yeah once you attain a degree no one cares what you got in your O-level or your A-level but as giving CIE is’nt a piece of cake , everyone wants to get a reward for their hardwork of 11 years.Leaving everyone aside , nothing compares to the internal satisfaction one gets after achieving good grades :)Recommend

  • Arshman

    I mostly agree with you but i seriously doubt getting a good result in Olevels is that hard. If you have three years to prepare for that measly amount of syllabus you should get A’s. But the relatives thing IS true. Alevels on the other hand is something else entirely and before people start bashing me, yes i did get straight A’s in alevels, but barely.Recommend

  • http://www.xintsolutions.com Salman Khalid

    I like this line “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”Recommend

  • New Yorker

    Trust me, grades aren’t the only thing that can get you into a good university. I got E, E and U in my A levels. I got into New York University with 100% scholarship for 4 years :) And now nobody asks me that how many A’s did I get in A levels last year! ;) Recommend

  • Shah

    I am very curious as to how CIE papers are transferred to graders. Are the papers scanned and then graded. Who transfers papers to graders? Can these people be approached? Is there a chance that can happen in (Lahore) Pakistan? Actually, I am asking this because I know cases of a few students who were crying loudly after the exam and citing they missed many questions, but got A*.

    Is the system as perfect as it is claimed? I think CIE needs to spot check the process and seriously rectify anomalies. Many students are reporting upsets in results for June 2012.Recommend

  • Nerd

    Guess what? I appeared for my statistics exam in class 9 (0-1) and I got a ‘C’. It was obviously a bad decision! But I didn’t panic over it coz it was not my fault at all! I know how hard I studied.I got sick and stuff…and all that was hideous!
    Still, I had my head up high on the result day and ppl got confused and assumed I’v hit an straight A*~!!!Recommend

  • Anon

    @VivaLaRevolution:
    No offence dude, but when i got admitted in one of the prestigious business school of Pakistan, I had C grade student sitting right next to a distinction holder in my class. Ironic isn’t it? Or does that C grade student not have any right to study in that prestigious university just because he was not able to get A’s?

    Salam hai teri soch ko!Recommend

  • VLR

    @Anon:
    Mr. Anon , I am talking about Public Unis not Private. In Public Unis grades and entry test are all that matters. There are very few good Private Unis in Pak.Recommend

  • ali

    What a waste of time this article was. ET please.Recommend

  • Mirza Moiz Baig

    Couldnt agree more…. With all the uncles and aunties calling, asking a student his result is like asking a man about his salary or a woman about their age… It should be personal, aand the student would surely let you know if he wants to share the news with youu.Recommend

  • uzair

    @VivaLaRevolution:
    ok dude, chill! We know u got straight As. Lay it off man! :PRecommend

  • ali bhoy

    hey, i have got D,D,E in bio,phy and chem respectively.
    want to do MBBS in karachi.
    which uni shal take me. i am very upset :|Recommend

  • http://Hotmail.com Prof Najmey

    Sweet Rameeza Ahmed. BRAVO.

    Since I’ve no daughter of my own, only 3 adult sons, 2 are physicians, one in KEMCU
    Lahore, the youngest one is doing house job. Maybe Allah knew that I don’t deserve a
    daughter. Now you’re the one.for me!!!
    My heartiest congratulations. May Allimol Ghaib bless u and ur family with more of such
    laurels.Ameen.

    NajmeyRecommend

  • ThroneOfThorns

    If you do not get an amazing result, it doesn’t matter. It’s not the end of the world because you can still go on to be successful. I am a living breathing example of the same. Some children learn things slightly later compared to others. That does not mean they are any less able or capable. Also, some people are better at one thing than the other. For example, I was and am still terrible at Maths, but on the other hand I consider myself quite creative and I found out that I have a knack for Marketing. At the end of my MBA, I ended up with a GPA of 3.4, but does that make me any less than the person who got a GPA of 3.9? While the 3.9 student probably spent most of their time studying, I was in to things like playing guitar and making music with my band. These things developed my overall personality, and let me assure you that organizations are now increasingly looking to hire people with a personality rather than a bookworm. This does not mean that grades aren’t important. It just means that they are not the end of the world. So don’t let a piece of paper with letters printed on it discourage you from chasing your dreams. We are all special in our own way. Recommend

  • Rameezay

    @Prof Najmey:
    Thank you so much sir :)Recommend

  • Nabeel

    Yes being inquired by the relatives about your result is quite frustrating. Though, the mindset of our society needs to change being successful in life isn’t about getting straight A’s in CIE or more 80% in HSC. You can still do good.
    P.S : Those who did wonders with their skills aren’t the one with straight A’s or 80%. Recommend

  • Hera Iftikhar

    I swear…relatives are all annoying! My khala trotted up to me on my birthday [13/08/2012],I was out with my friends and all she had to ask my mom was “Aur iss ke result ka kya hua?” I was like SERIOUSLY!? Pakistani’s are SICK. Families are all about bringing eachother down. Its about upstaging eachother.
    Now its come to the point that you cant even tell them your good result because they make that “Oh..whatever” face because OMG…you just outshone their gem of a child. How dare you? And families are so messed up,there’s always that “nazar lag jai gi” fear. I know people who cast spells so that others dont do well or dont get married. I mean…how twisted in the head does this Godforsaken society have to be!?Recommend

  • Hera Iftikhar

    @VivaLaRevolution:
    Pakistani mentality IS this. Dont have a straight A’s…you wont amount to anything. Dont be insulted..its the truth. Face it.
    You misunderstood the grammar. “Isnt a walk in park” means its not easy to get straight A’s. Youre telling me its the easiest thing in the world to get straight A’s? Please read carefully before you criticize.Recommend