Ah, spring! it’s the season of colours and flowers, of beauty and romance. Or, so say the poems that used to be on the syllabus of the Annual Exam in school. Remember reading Song of March and Sonnet 98? Yes, for most students, discovering the beauty of spring in Bengal happens through literature; in reality, spring is the harbinger of examinations. And the exams in springs are nothing but childhood trauma.
Yes, even today, when the first whiff of spring air ruffles our hair, a 90’s kid, who’s not a kid anymore, shudders slightly somewhere; his heart beats faster, and not in a good way. The smell of dry grass and dust instantly transports them to the school ground; here, he once stood and took a last-minute revision before entering the exam hall, or waited in a queue to fill up the forms for the admit card. The memories of the annual torture of studying at home to complete the syllabus, and never managing to do so, still haunts the child inside the adult working on his excel sheet at this moment.
Memories in March: Exams in Springs Brought Us Tears and Fears!
It’s cute to think that spring is coming, with pleasant breezes. But, in reality, that breeze sends a chill down the spine of many people. For them, spring came, for 15-17 years, with annual exams, boards, and semesters. It is the season of staying up till 3 am to study, with tears in the eyes. It’s the season of being woken up by a dreadful nightmare of failing in exams or studying Geography, only to find out it’s a History exam. Admit it, you’ve had that dream and checked and rechecked the timetable.
An entire generation of children, especially the fever-prone ones, had to miss the joys of Dol and Holi. The Abir could cause dust allergy, while the water could lead to cold and fever; or, so they were told by their protective parents. These children had to skip the festival of colours, less the Dol/Holi-induced ailment wasted their study time or harmed their exam. While playing with Aabir was still possible in college and university days, the mystery of the kids with colours on their hands and faces remains unsolved.
And, all the spring romance? No, that has never happened for students. Even those who tried to sneak into the domain of romancing their classmates on V-Days and Saraswati Pujos could never really let go of the fear and guilt that sat firmly in one corner of the heart. It was the guilt of not studying. It was the fear of getting a call from parents to inform that they know there’s no extra class, and the random, “Bari aye, tor aj hochhe…”
Suffice it to say that spring in Bengal brings back memories of tears and fear for the fully functioning adults you see around you.
On second thought, this is probably true for kids all over India. To the world, spring may be the season of romance and beauty. But for the 90’s kids, it’s a season of exam-related trauma, shortness of breath, anxiousness, sleepless nights, terrible nightmares, waiting to fail, and disappointing parents with poor marks.
We would take the summer season any day, instead, because that was the season of holidays, new clothes, and Chhuti Chhuti in the afternoon. The joys of spring, on the other hand, are nothing but a myth. And, we openly admit that we feel a sadistic pleasure that after a few years of experimentations with the change in the time of exams, kids are once again in the same situation as we used to be!
And, among all the memories of traumatic exams in spring, there’s one more memory of spring pain that floods the heart. It is the memory of the last time we sat in a class and had our names called out as a student, and of the goodbyes that we said to some of our favourite teachers.