RC looked at me across the table and laughed soundlessly. (His name is Ranojoy Chowdhury, but initials were in). “Three answers on ‘e rocks!” his eyes beamed!
This meant, that out of four hand-picked answers written in neatly folded previous day’s answer-sheets inside his socks, three had clicked! All he needed to do now was answer two more, if he was in the mood, or none at all, in the next three hours of the Part I selection examinations. I clicked my tongue in envy. I wasn’t into socks and trousers those days.
RC was realistic and loved humor. Some weren’t. As far as I remember, I had answered seven out of 10 short questions and Kaushik, seated in between me and the examiner, was planning to abandon all. “I’ve answered three long ones anyway, I’ll pass,” he grumbled when I offered him my unrequited help. “Nope.” He stuck to his laziness. I couldn’t bear to see him leave the hall just because he was too lazy to write an exam. So I coaxed him. I pleaded with him to cheat. I placed my answer-sheet in such a way that he could either make a copy of it in flat 5 minutes or the examiner could throw us both out in flat 5 seconds. The examiner looked at the set-up and yawned!
Kaushik copied four answers reluctantly and rebelled! “F*** I don’t feel like!” gave up his paper and went home.
I was a fresh graduate from a Protestant Christian school when I got the shock. It was a four-hour first-year examination in a reputed college and I had gulped down the entire syllabus as usual, to throw it all up on the answer sheet. Bracing myself for the final moment, I got everything ready — pens, pencils, rubber, ruler, clipboard, guts. But when the question papers were finally distributed, something alien came out from inside the desks of my fellow-mates — BOOKS!
After what seemed hours of going into a paralyzed numbness, I recovered, a little older. The bespectacled, stern examiner, whom I revered before coming into the hall, frowned when the mumble grew louder among the students. “Softly! You can be heard outside!” It flashed through my mind that in school it was a sin even to raise one’s head during exams.
My friend Prabir allegedly had entered a Part II Maths exam hall grumbling: Boss! I’ll never get 5 marks today! He reported came out of the hall gleaming: Boss! let me see how they deduct 5 marks!
Rajeev had big hands and hence he could hide his cog-notes well in them (hiding was necessary only from his conscience though). As he wrote he read his notes out loud while five others around him copied.
Twenty-five years passed since then.
All of us are happy, well-established and successful family people today, hence… No regrets! 😛
(Kaberi Dutta (maiden name). This story originally appeared in The Telegraph, June 4, 1994. The names of the characters in this story and the incidents are all real and bear complete resemblance to reality!)