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The final months of the school year and upcoming boards...

Mealtimes at the Central Dining Hall (CDH) tables are usually very enjoyable at school. Lively banter and convoluted ribbing generally pepper the conversation. At one end, somebody tries to figure out how many times a hardboiled egg can spin on its side in five seconds (with the others ‘egging’ him on), while at the other end, black market deals are being devised - somebody is willing to exchange two gulab jamuns for five ice cream sandwiches (what

a bargain!) Topical, amusing, philosophical, even criminal at times, one never knows which way the conversation will drift, but it is sure to be engaging.

This was the scenario until March last year. I remember sitting among my classmates celebrating the announcement for the school's early closure due to the outbreak of the pandemic. For what we thought would merely be an early break for our summer

vacation. Little did we know that we would not be returning to school in July 2020. Almost a year and a half flew right by, as I breezed past grade 9, and now find myself anxiously awaiting the impending doom of Boards.

Perhaps, I would have found myself seated at the CDH table on Monday morning - lacklustre appetites, shoulders drooped in a tense huddle and pensive expressions greeting me from one quarter while a half-hearted attempt at insipid conversation greeting me from the other end. A surprise would knit my brow as I would have asked a casual, “How’s it going?”. The predictable response of half-smiles, shifty eyes and embarrassed coughs. One of the many exclusive and once-in-a-lifetime experiences the Pandemic has snatched away from me before my very eyes. Having been stuck at home for so long, even the uneasy

atmosphere of what would have been my grade 10 CDH table, in one secluded corner, allures me. My yearning to return to school only grows stronger as these lonely days pass by me, and my limited time at Doon creeps to its end.

With boards just around the corner, I sense the nervous tensions no matter how far apart we may be or no matter which school we are from. No matter how many miles of land lay stretched between us, the anxious air of the upcoming deciding exams seems all the more claustrophobic. Enveloped in a bubble of overwhelming work and responsibilities, we must persevere. Connected only through Instagram, WhatsApp, and other forms of social media, board year students can be seen studying day-in and day-out hoping to receive the best grades possible at this crucial juncture in their lives. While knowledge certainly is our light, it is only now that we are able to see how truly in the dark we were. Studying as hard as possible - extensively practising past and topical papers - while desperately trying to make time for the occasional Netflix or YouTube break.

Here's a little something for all my fellow board year students out there... Nervous tension can be infectious. It transmits even faster than malicious gossip and perhaps with the same apathy towards the suffering soul. Of course, the examinations are just around the corner. Of course, you all are wondering. Of course, we all are feeling the pressure. So, are you going to buckle under the pressure or rise to the occasion and meet the challenge head-on? Most of you have prepared well and have determined the areas you need to work on. This is the last hundred metres of the marathon. You have got to tap into your positive energies and get the adrenaline to work for you. The finishing line is tantalisingly close and we are sure that all your hard work will come to fruition. Along with burning the midnight oil and consuming gallons of coffee, take a few moments to organise and plan. As they say, an ounce of planning is worth a pound of effort. Now is the time to work smart, not necessarily hard! Explaining a difficult concept to a friend who is struggling with it will reinforce what you have learnt and perhaps help a peer reach the coveted distinction status. There is a whole new world out there waiting for you – exchange, college, travel. But first, you have got to cross that finishing line. Draw on that famous 'never give up' spirit, keep your chin up, square your shoulders and give it all you have got. Stay focussed, help a friend match your pace, keep the positivity at a high and go for it. Good luck!


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