A day in the life of an O’ level student

Published: October 6, 2012
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Now, fifteen minutes to go before the exam, Myra takes deep breaths to stave off the panic that threatens to engulf her. PHOTO: FILE

Myra sits in her exam centre and carefully looks at everything inside the exam room, taking in every minute detail around her. She looks for any means of entertainment, or something ─ anything ─ that would reduce this boredom. Her friend purses her lips which reveal her annoyance at Myra, too afraid to show any real emotions for fear of the invigilator.

The invigilator, a stout, stern woman moves her eyes around the room like a hawk, ever ready to catch any miserable brat hand gesturing or passing random smiles. One can’t smile, speak, or move their arms to stretch as all this would be considered malpractice. For those few moments, one feels completely trapped.

Now, fifteen minutes to go before the exam, Myra takes deep breaths to stave off the panic that threatens to engulf her.

You are going to be okay! Be strong.

She gives herself the pep talk and then starts to mutter all the duas (prayers) she had learnt as a child; God is the only hope left.

That’s when Myra hears the rules being announced on the microphone; the monotonous voice that indicates that there are only a few minutes to go before the exam.

“Keep your ID card and Statement of Entry on the top right hand side of your desk so that the invigilating staff can see it properly during the ID check.”

The words were heard so many times by Myra that she decides to close her eyes and day dream of the things she would do in her hours of freedom following the exam.

Myra looks up at the clock beside the big red thumbs up sign, indicating good luck. Yes, sure, as if that thumbs up sign is going to actually make her feel any better! She counts the seconds as the clock hand ticks by excruciatingly slow, making each second last longer.

As the speakers reverberate, Myra sets her pen to work and starts her paper at an alarmingly fast rate. She racks her brain for answers, pushing numbers frantically on to the calculator.

You know how sometimes there is a certain song that simply refuses to vacate your mind? That’s what Myra is going through as she approaches the trickiest problem. Talk about timing!

Hey, I just met you and this is crazy but here’s my number.

Focus, Myra, focus!

…So call me maybe?

Shut up, just shut up!

Would Atrium still be screening Hunger Games? I so desperately want to watch it.

“Please, please stop and focus on the question in front of you! You will have all the time in the world to watch any movie you want,” Myra reasons with herself in her mind.

Myra tries to recall the things she studied in the morning. She lauds herself silently for every right answer she remembers to the multiple choice questions (MCQs) on the paper.

The hour goes by quicker than anticipated, and before Myra knows it, the dreaded speaker reverberates again and instructs everyone to put their pens down. The invigilator, so passive before, now threatens to cancel the paper if everyone doesn’t stop writing. Myra breathes a sigh of relief, winks at her friend and then makes her way out of the room into the open, where she has never felt lighter.

It is only then that she remembers that she only answered two of the three mandatory questions . She stops dead in her tracks. Her stomach drops to the floor and her face turns to stone.

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Javeria Khalid Petiwala

Javeria Khalid Petiwala

A student based in Karachi, an ardent debater, and a Master Chef fan, she loves writing and travelling.

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