I am in my 10th standard, we had four divisions A, B, C and D each having approximately 60 students. In India, 10th Standard is when we decide what we want to take up after school, Science, Commerce or Arts. It was one of those days, when our school had invited an external team (I know now they are probably called consultants/ career counselors) to help students decide which area might be apt for them. The process was simple, we were asked to take a test, I can vaguely remember the questions, but it was like an aptitude test. It had questions related to things like “Find the next number in the series”, some “Visual Questions”, like an MBA entrance possibly.
From my childhood, I always wanted to be an Engineer, that too an Electronics Engineer. I used to dismantle the tape-recorder (probably an extinct commodity now) when everyone was sleeping in the house and before everyone woke up, I used to put it back together. Fun isn’t it 😊; I was curious to know how does this thing work? I was awaiting the result of the Aptitude test, it is customary for a parent to be present with the child, so my Grandfather was there with me. The result was being explained, the gist of the story (not that I remember what was being explained) was “I cannot be an Engineer”, the reason being “I am not good at Mathematics”. This was decided by a 60 min test, it could be right, it could be wrong. Imagine as a 16-year-old, one being told, you cannot become what you wished to be. My Grandfather was highly supportive and told me “Forget what the result says, focus on what you want to be”. Before pursuing Engineering, one still has to complete Junior College, which was for two years, so technically I still had some time.
The 10th standard batch of 1996 was probably the most adventurous batch since we had to give the Math’s paper twice. Can you guess why? Well, the Question papers for some subjects were leaked and one of them was Mathematics! Once the news was out, we had to sit for the exam again in another month or so. Whenever the word Exam comes, I tend to remember Mr. Henry Fischel and I want to ask him why man why? 😊. Oh, by the way if you don’t know, Mr. Henry Fischel was the inventor or examinations. Finally, the 10th standard results were out, my Math’s scores were not great but I was able to get into “Swami Vivekanand Jr. College in Chembur Mumbai”. Luckily for me my junior college was, and still is walking distance from my house, hardly a kilometre. I moved to Mumbai in my 4th standard and since then, most of the times my cousin brother and me have been in the same class. Fortunately, in the 11th and 12th standard as well ended up in the same class, baring the first couple of months in my 11th standard where I was in another class (Division A). But, as was meant to be, I got transferred to my cousin’s class (Division B).
The moment I entered Division B, is probably when things changed for me. I clearly felt a lot of competitive spirit but there was a lot of camaraderie as well. I remember being part of a Skit with a group of 18 members. We had to take special approval for 18 members to part of the play, since those many were not allowed, and we did not want anyone to be left behind. Our play was based on our plight of Nineteen Ninety Six. If you haven’t guessed by now, it was on the Question Paper Leakage of 1996 due to which we gave some exams twice. If you know me personally, you will very well know I don’t speak much, especially that I cannot chit-chat with anyone. Luckily, I only had couple of dialogues, but I had an additional responsibility to design few cordless phones made of thermocol which the group used during the play. In the end our hard work paid off, and our Group won the second prize, each of the 18 members got a glass vase which I still have by the way.
We saw the camaraderie within the group, now, let’s talk about the competitive spirit. Like I mentioned my 10th Math’s scores were not that great, but in Division B, almost everyone was a class apart at Math’s. It was probably this feeling of not wanting to be left behind that somehow got me going. We had topics around Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry, you know sin, cos, tan. Everyday once I reached home, I would start solving problems from a book. It became a routine, a habit which helped me a lot. Like in any school, we had a Mid-Term test for all subjects including Mathematics by the way 😊. The benefit in a Mid-term test is that you get your answer paper in your hand. I think it was a 40 marks paper if I am not mistaken. My name is called out to come and collect the paper, hold your breath, I see the paper and don’t believe my eyes. I got 40 out of 40. OMG!! I probably wanted to show the paper to the career counselor at that time 😊. But the career counselor was probably just doing his Job, explaining how things looked when I gave the test a year back. I remember one of my best friends (he is a currently a doctor by the way, a family of 20 odd doctors) who used to sit next to me in class, telling me “they won’t doubt you for your mathematics skills”.
As a 16 year old kid, an aptitude test can probably tell you what area best suits you, but it very well cannot decide what you will become !!
To Be Continued !!