I was trying to make it to a thousand. A thousand steps, that is. It was nine in the morning and I was walking outside an accounts class that I attend every morning. I had landed myself in a 10,000 step duel against a friend and being the high headed snob that I am, there was no chance that I lose it. So, while the friend was sleeping and while the teacher was sipping on to tea as the class had broken for a ten minute break, I was pacing in the corridor to make it to a thousand. That is when my path crossed with a guy from my class who – unaware of the target I’d set for myself- initiated a conversation. A conversation that culminated in the inevitable question for any Chartered Accountancy student in this country- ‘When are you due to attempt the final examinations?’
Inside work and outside work, inside class and outside class, while acquainting with new faces or while watching old ones resurface, I am always greeted with questions about the exam, about the classes that I have taken, am taking or will be taking, about the teachers I am taking the classes from and their
knowledge market branding. Once we are past the questions, the other half of the conversation is centered on the critique offered on my modus operandi to study and advice that I did not solicit or that is of no relevance to me. This is the conversation that I have to put myself through on a standard day. Without any intention or effort of my own, in the past fifteen months, this conversation has become the nucleus of my existence and an invisible centripetal force keeps on pulling me towards it.
What everyone looks at is the nucleus and what all of them ignore are the many orbs of electrons that complete the atom of my existence. I have an individuality that goes far beyond my education and my career. I am the person who sits down occasionally to spell out her perceptions on paper and manages to do a decent job at it. I am the person who reads to lose hold of reality and emerges with an improved grasp on reality. I am the person who can read people, their words and the aperture between what they vocalize and what they withhold. I am the person who has grown to develop a funny bone or two in her body and the heart to laugh along when a joke is being made on her. I am the person who finds a strange sense of liberation in road trips and in singing every lyric to every song that plays throughout the journey. I am the person who will begin reading an answer on the biggest conspiracies on Quora and ends being so fascinated with the Nayirah testimony that she spends the entire night learning every fact that there is on the Gulf War. I am the person who attaches great value in family and believes the best nights are the ones spent eating and talking and laughing with family. I am the person who will come across an interesting image of mocha muffins on Pinterest and be found trying to reproduce them- on sheer whim because cooking does not interest her much- in her kitchen the next day. I am the person who diligently solves every question in the class and tries to do it before the allotted time, even though it is 6:30 in the morning, even though she struggled to open her eyes minutes before, even though it is a satellite class and the teacher will never even witness her exultation on having done it correctly. But being this person does not deny me of being the many other persons that are housed within me.
You may wonder, why am I so bugged with my education beginning to define my life. But this is not about my education rather about one exam, the paparazzi that surrounds it, what people believe that ought to be done to survive it and how I have come to be identified with it. This fellow who does not know me outside the class, who I have never even looked at in class, charted out a timeline for the next two years of my life, told me what according to him I was doing wrong, raised an eye on my relaxed stance on the much dreaded exam and left even without asking my name. I don’t know about anybody else, but I find that rude of him to have completely neglected my identity and to have branded me as another one of the many people in this country who are attempting to become a Chartered Accountant. And what I would not give to simply move past this conversation in a blur where people attempt to shrink my personality into this definition of being a CA Final student.