Tough times

Entrance examination is the sieve into which every medical and engineering aspirant is poured. There are hundreds of entrance examinations, conducted both by government and private medical colleges, each testing memory and skill, not aptitude. The more you practice, the more are your chances to win.
Higher secondary course is a physiological laboratory that tests what material a student is made of. Only an A+ holder with more than 90% marks stands the chance of grabbing a medical seat. Each entrance question is a life or death matter. You answer one question right, and your rank shoots up to 500s, if you lose it, it falls to 1000s. This Olympic competitiveness makes it sure that only the fittest, the most single minded, would survive(Darwin had said it right). The sort of laid back, uncompetitive person who wants to ‘live the moment’ will drop out of entrance coaching, I’m sure.
Last month, I visited an entrance coaching centre. I met a junior student from my school, who was making last minute revisions for the model exam. As soon as he recognized me, he came to me with the big bound volume of an MCQ book in Mathematics. As he was talking, I noticed the sparkle in his eyes. (I distinguish entrance aspirants from others by their hollow eyes that resembles long, dark tunnels). Smart guy, I guessed.
He wanted the solution for some difficult math problem. I had forgotten more than half of the formulae I had learned, so I sat down and started writing down the basics, right from the beginning. He watched me silently for some time. After about two minutes, he said ” I know all this stuff. I thought you’d know a shortcut method for answering this question.”
“Why do you want a shortcut?”, I asked.
“See, I need to finish the problem within one minute, so I need to be really fast. I can’t waste too much time on one problem”.
He said it right. And he said it professionally. I guess he’ll crack the IIT entrance.
The changes I notice in an entrance aspirant are not too welcoming. Nowadays, I hear that they don’t even share their notes. That they don’t talk with the fellow competitors. That they wish more for their friends’ failure than their own success. The end result of this training process is students who are addicted to work as patients to morphine.
All through my training process, I didn’t forget to remain human. I gave my life the first priority, even when I went through all the agony of entrance preparation.