Devastation in Disguise

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Jasindah Mir
Sadie looked out of the window of her room, leaning against the wall next to it, wondering where she had gone wrong. She had done her term papers so well. Why just 81% then, she thought.

Sadie had been always told that anything below a 90% score was not good. She’d been amongst the top 20 position holders in Kashmir the previous year when she was in class tenth, having a big fat 95.7% on her report card. Now an 80% was pestering her too much.

‘I’m coming ma,’ she yelled to her mother who reminded her that she was getting late for school.

She didn’t like going to that school, especially after her poor result in this first term. She missed her previous school.  She’d heard so much of her new school before she joined it. It was a hot shot school for girls in the city. She’d had many dreams in her eyes while she’d filled the admission form in the biting cold that morning, six months ago; but now she was regretting her decision.

At school, she sat in the chair near the corner. She wondered if she’d lost interest or her intelligence. She speculated that she might not be working too hard but in the hearts of her hearts she knew that she hadn’t worked as hard in her tenth class as she had worked this year. Sadie had no one to blame.

‘We’ve deducted marks so that you do better in the coming exams. You can’t get perfect marks because no one of you can be perfect,’ she heard her chemistry teacher say to a girl enquiring about her low marks.

Sadie understood that she was not alone. But had the teacher just talked of perfection? Was she perfect at everything in her subject? Hadn’t she last time been confused teaching the discovery of protons and electrons when Sadie had tried to tell her that she was teaching the wrong thing? Hadn’t Sadie told her that she had to write the reciprocal of that equation in Thermodynamics to get the desired relation, when she’d got it wrong four times on the blackboard?

This was the case with her English paper as well. When she saw that the teacher has given her 38 out of 50, she was so disgusted that she didn’t even open the paper to see where she was wrong. She’d been the best student in her English class and everyone knew it.

‘You’ve been with that Play Station for the whole day. Don’t you have to study?’

‘I’ll get the same marks whether I study or not,’ she said matter of factly. She knew the marks she got were not what she deserved. She didn’t deserve just 81%. No way!

She now didn’t study as much as she used to and instead spent the time idling around or reading a lot of fiction in the coming months. She got okayish marks in her Unit Tests. But she realised that she had lost enough time a month before her finals. She started working hard again, though she knew that she won’t get the deserved marks however hard she tried. Her papers went very well. Nearly as good as her first term papers had gone. She was very optimistic about her result this time.

‘I’ll wait outside. You go and collect the result. I don’t like going in the school premises, Ma,’ Sadie told her mother on the day of the result.

She waited outside making calculations of the marks she’d probably get. She’d got a staggering figure around 92% when she saw her mother coming out of the school gate. She understood that it definitely was not above 90% in her report card because the teachers would’ve again thought that she’ll do better this way in her coming exams.

‘You’ve got a C grade! 70.06%!’ her mother hollered throwing the report card in her face.

Sadie had to hear a million bitter things from her mother but she didn’t listen to a thing. She was contemplating, what the hell went wrong. Had she become so useless on the face of this earth?

She decided not to study anything for some time, thinking she needed a break. She tried reading fiction- her old hobby, but she didn’t understand a word. She didn’t even understand a single simple sentence of the English language.

‘70%! C Grade! Is this what I am worth? Have I lost my calibre? Wasn’t I amongst the top 20 scorers last year? Have I become so dumb that I got a C grade today?’ This was what went in her mind whatever she’d be doing.  Her peers at her old school got a lot better marks than her. The dumbest fellows in the boys’ wing of the school had been scoring above 95%. For a month ,when she’d been unable to understand a single chapter from all of the novels she tried to read, she was convinced she had turned too dumb to do anything.

Sadie’s confidence had evaporated. Her childhood dream of designing buildings had vanished. She’d never be an architect, she was sure. She was convinced that won’t be able to crack the entrance exam because she was a moronic loser.

Sadie was dreadfully dejected. She’d had suicidal thoughts many times when she walked at the bridge which led to the darned school. She didn’t get proper sleep and didn’t study anything seriously for five whole months after her results. She prepared for her 12th Standard exams a few months beforehand, though.

It was hard because she couldn’t concentrate. Her brain was rusted. Her belief that she was a block head added to the problem exponentially.

She was determined that she won’t study in Kashmir after her 12th. She hated the way the teachers here devastated the students’ future in the name of improvement.

She still got 90% in her 12th Class exams. She couldn’t make it to her desired university for her B.A because she had just 2% less marks than the cut-off. She tried at another university. She was sure they’d take her but this year they even considered the 11th standard marks. What was she to show? The C grade on report card? She was dropped.

Sadie felt worthless. She didn’t want to try out any other university. She thought she was not worth it. She couldn’t waste her parents’ money anymore. She was ashamed of her existence. She decided to come back to Kashmir.

It was her last month at college. She was going home as she walked over the bridge near that school. Every time she looked at the school her heart would ache. She thought of that school to be the worst part of her life.

She stopped and gazed at the flowing river beneath the bridge. She tried to look for her reflection but failed to find anything.

She’d lost herself over the years. Her being over-sensitive about not getting the deserved marks and the fall from elegance in her studies had affected her badly. She’d lost her confidence, her sharpness, her brightness, her contemplative nature. She’d lost the girl she’d been before she’d joined this school.

She knew she had a dark future ahead. She could not do anything she’d always wanted to do with her B.A degree. She had wanted to design buildings and nothing else would suit her, she knew.

Her life seemed a waste and she thought of herself as a complete failure.

She looked up towards the sky wiping the tears in the corner of her eyes. She’d failed to answer the question her aching heart had been asking for years now. Where had she gone wrong?

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About Author

A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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