It was the first day of the S. S. C. Examination. There was an atmosphere of suspense and tension in the examination hall. As the last bell rang, the perfect silence was broken by the rustle of the question papers in English which were being handed to the candidates, and the tense atmosphere gave place to one of excitement.
I was considered to be a bright student, a promising scholar. I used to study regularly throughout the year and was not at all scared of examination. On this particular day I was unruffled and confident, and placidly read the question paper, as though it was a newspaper.
I always made it a point to attempt the essay first. While the other questions could be disposed of quickly, the essay demanded leisure, imagination and freshness of mind. One of the essay topics happened to be ‘Examination’ Reforms,’ and in a fateful moment I plumped for it. After arranging my ideas on the subject, I started writing on the defects of the examination system.
Can the work done by a student throughout the year be judged by a single final examination? Are not our examinations a test of memory rather than of intelligence and understanding? Do they not put a premium on cramming? As I went on writing, I was possessed by the spirit of the subject. I lost myself in exposing the defects of the examination system and wrote with a fervour and sincerity quite unusual in an essay of this kind. An invigilator looked at me curiously, as if I was a poet composing a poem in a state of inspiration.
I finished the essay in an hour, an unusually long time. But the arguments against examinations which I had so sincerely put forward continued to trouble me. I looked at the pale faces of some of my companions, and something within me cried for action. I had not merely written an academic essay on examination reforms; I felt that I was engaged in a crusade against an evil.
I felt that I must express protest against examinations in a concrete, practical form. To the inexpressible astonishment of my fellow-candidates and the invigilators, I surrendered my answer book two hours before the end of the examination and walked out of the hall!