Teaching has introduced me to the other side of the table as well. It has taken me to what you call the frontline of college time- an examination hall. Call it whatever, but once a performer is now some spectator there. And never have I ever seen so many spectrums of emotions, behaviour, aspirations as much as in an examination hall.
In here, a student teacher combat is full-fledged, you try to snatch a copy, pinpoint someone, or pass a cautioning stare and a great stock of expressions pile up from these virtuous creatures. Some even dare put a fight with an equally charged glance which would make you regret why did you even touch the answer booklet. Some would be too ashamed apparently ready to melt. Some would be unapologetically confident exercising their birthright to help or be helped. And some would smile as if you have caught them in the noblest of acts. Then few of them would be really nervous because no matter what you say these students just cheated because 97/100 was a shame man!
And then another lot would enjoy the sleep of their life, too unruffled to be shaken by the storm rising here. Some would simply stare at the blank on the wall configuring what to do with their lives that very moment. Some would urge to pee endlessly, their bladders almost bursting, rushing to washrooms to the rescue of hidden treasures. Return from there would be no lesser a victory if the cheat chits had what they wanted. Walking in like a triumphant, they would exchange glances with each eye in the hall and express the joy. Some fellow-seekers would even raise eyebrows as a hint to pass on the wisdom.
Few sincere ones would be engulfed writing so diligently as if the end of life was at the doorstep and your wife had you sign the cheque for shopping. Some who were awake the whole night cramming things would be regurgitating like anything, with pen racing faster than the fingers could hold, resulting in pure genius on answer sheets only amplifying nightmares of the teacher. Some would reassure that you aren’t looking at them while they take their chance to cheat. Alas, they fail miserably in cheating and otherwise too. Few spring out straight from a fashion parade or heading for a date later, caressing hair with utmost care, conscious while writing or leaning or looking around. They would also enjoy their moment of assertion when they catch you looking at them. Exams are too L.S. for this lot. Some would keep looking at the watch for the time to end, and some would write endlessly till the last second, last page and last drop of ink. They have so much to tell that a lifetime would be less. But then amongst these are some who have genuinely toiled through the semester to learn and excel.
And there will be so many new types with each invigilation duty that it is so exciting to know that you are now on the other side and past this trauma. You have rights to scold, shout or even dismiss without a pinch of guilt (or not so much). But as much as the students drag through each second of these three hours, you do even more helplessly. And in the end, all that is consolingly exciting about the duty in examination hall is witnessing these myriads of emotions.