IITJEE is a nightmare for most of the candidates. You’ve an exam hall with the lowest possible sex ratio, and the girls look no better than William Frey’s daughters. Then there’s this question paper full of strange mysterious symbols, which pretty much appear like messages of Jaadu preserved by Rakesh Roshan and then unleashed on humanity. When I was taking the foundation course, the symbols on the board would start floating around like agitated fishes in a pond, and I’d wonder if I was really carved out for this shit.
One day, my friend showed me a man riding a bicycle. In a hogwartsy tone, he asked,
“What do you see? ”
I thought about it for a while. I wondered if it was a normal question aimed at testing sight, or a deeper question which Leeladhar Swamy asks from his listeners every morning on Sanskaar TV.
“I see a man. With a mango crate. He seems poor. And tired too. He is riding. He has stopped. Oh! He is riding again. “I said, wondering if my friend had finally lost his mind. He was rebuffed by a girl a few days ago, and since then he has been asking weird questions.
What’s the purpose of life? Why are girls so evil? What would I do without her? Have you ever felt love?
“You know what I see? “He asked. I didn’t want to know what he saw. I wanted to go home. But he spoke anyway,
“I see kinetic energy. And then potential energy. And then kinetic energy again. ”
I looked at his face carefully. His smile was fake, his eyes were lava pits, his hair was a hacked hedge. He was so pathetic you could caste him in child labour ads. Suddenly I realized two things – I was in the company of a lunatic, and that science was not something I should pursue.
I gave up on physics after that. But many of my friends didn’t and they suffered a lot.
Atif is always the guy in wrong profession. He should have started a band, performing live concerts by now, but like every other small town guy, he is taking IITJEE. Last year he asked for some advice regarding the exam, and if I knew some tricks to solve MCQs.
“You always get good scores. I can’t believe you haven’t got some secret trick. All intelligent people have a secret trick. ”
I wondered if I should suggest him to take a healthy diet and sleep on time, but it didn’t seem like those ideas would be welcome, so I asked,
“Alright, Atif. Have you studied anything for the exam? ”
“Nah. I didn’t even know that coordinate geometry was in syllabus until yesterday. “He said coolly.
I nodded, and said,
“I know what you got to do. You got to pick an option and mark the same for every question. ”
He looked at me through squinted eyes, and then exclaimed,
“Wow! Why couldn’t I ever think of that! ”
I remained immersed in guilt for a few months after that. And a few more after Atif told me he’s done exactly as I suggested. I asked him if he solved any question, and he said he couldn’t differentiate Alpha from Beta, and since a girl sat beside him, he couldn’t have risked to look stupid trying to figure out the harmonic progression of some trigonometric identities.
“The girl asked me if I knew what’s the atomic number of uranium. And I was so excited I couldn’t even reply. The boy from the other side replied and he won the girl. Uranium had never been so important before.”
“Oh! “I said, wondering if I would ever go out with a girl who asks me the atomic number of uranium. Nah. Never.
Results were declared and what’s unbelievable was that he was only 10 marks short of the cutoff.
“This is so heartbreaking. “He said. “I marked B in every question. Should have gone with A. A for Atif. ”
I was quite taken aback. I didn’t even know such a trick could work. Had I cracked the code to pass MCQ exams!?
“This time try mixing options. Do a Jai Mata Di. “I suggested. I had a strong feeling that he would be in top 100 when results are out.
He followed my advice.
Results were declared.
And he isn’t telling me his marks now.
“C’mon. How bad can it be? You haven’t got negative score, have you? “I keep asking.
“Let’s talk about something elese. I should have taken commerce.”He says.