Welcome to the hell (and heaven) of a 16 year old

There are five stages that an O’ Level student goes through on his or her result day.


Meiryum Ali August 13, 2010
Welcome to the hell (and heaven) of a 16 year old

KARACHI: There are five stages that an O’ Level student goes through on his or her result day: anxiety, religiousness, panic, shock and espresso. The last is the most drawn out - it involves Facebook, friends, a phone, tissue paper, a hug and maybe coffee.

I couldn’t sleep the night before. I picked up The Motorcycle Diaries, which isn’t a very good book to read if you want to go to sleep. By the time Che Guevara had visited his eighth leper colony I had thrown the book aside and turned to my pathetic little mp3 player for some solace. Coldplay sounded more random than usual: “Look at the stars - ECONOMICS - look how they - PHYSICS - shine for you and everything that you do, yeah they were all - ADD MATH - yellow.”

It’s not comforting to know that the results are out on the first of Ramazan when you remember that the last time you prayed was because the sports reporter had cornered you: “You shall read namaz!” Ja, mein fuhrer.

One egg, 2 parathey, a bowl of Frosties and a dozen Azaans later, I was feeling better. But neither Surah Kausar nor Chris Martin had quelled the bubbling fear of Cs and Ds. So, I decided to become newly acquainted with my room. I plumped up my pillow, sprayed Fabreeze on my curtains. I sent Ramazan Mubarak messages to every idiot in my phonebook. Feeling adventurous, I climbed the narrow stairs to the roof. Standing there in my floral nightie, in all reckless abandon, I watched the sun rise over the Arabian sea on one side and Defense sprawl out on the other. The sky turned pink and caramel. The golden arches of McDonald’s Seaview rose up through the morning fog.

Then I fell asleep. In my bed, not on the roof. And I woke up only when a friend called at noon telling me the results were being given out in the auditorium, so where are you?

The guards were smiling as I walked by. “Aur baby? Kaisi ho?”

Some students who had received their results were walking out. “Yeah! I got 6A*s! 3 As! Tell Mumani Jaan, Beenish Khala…”

As the auditorium loomed closer, I saw my entire class, after two months of being cooped up like chickens studying their brains out, sitting haphazardly on chairs, some staring out blankly, some looking like they’ve been tasered.

“Did you hear? She got a 100 per cent - in Literature!”

“100 @$#% per cent!”

“Yo, how was summer?” Does it look like I give a…

We line up next to the table where the headmistress is distributing the results with an ease not shared by her students.

“Ah, um, here we are… what’s this? Oh well done.”

Hands hold on to you, others pepper the air with, ‘Good luck” and swear words. And then, with the paper in your hands, numb and dazed, you emerge and join in the babble of congratulations and incredulity.

“Oh my God? What did you get?”

“Are you serious!”

“Ninety-three per cent in Chemistry!”

“6As, ladies, 6As!”

And then, suddenly, the world felt funnier and a whole lot kinder. Students who were waiting for their results were laughing away the tension. “I always knew you were going to ace that.” There was the usual barrage of questions: Which subject? What grade? How much? Soon enough I was highfiving, hugging, laughing - I had faced the doom and gloom and lived.

For others it was less celebratory. “Well you see sir, I really DID try.” Followed by, “I expected you to get higher than this, beta.” A shake of the head.

You wipe your friend’s tears away and tell them the British examiner was having problems at home, of course. You call up friends and your throat sticks because they say in a small, sad voice, “Maybe, I’ll have to leave school”.

Then tradition kicked in. We ran around school, barging into the classes for 10 and 11, yelling to the teacher, “Miss! Sir! I got an A!” The teachers either congratulate you, or kick you out. The students in their class stare back at you in shock and awe. You bask in the divine light. You’ve made it through the O’ Levels.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2010.

COMMENTS (4)

16 year old | 13 years ago | Reply "You wipe your friend’s tears away and tell them the British examiner was having problems at home, of course. You call up friends and your throat sticks because they say in a small, sad voice, “Maybe, I’ll have to leave school”. haha, you know who this is ;) "how can you see the waves when you are the water"- that ** finally paid off.87% in lit :D.Must find tahir.
abc | 13 years ago | Reply But dont call it heaven or hell for 15 year olds. So many people who are that age, go through so much more, raped, forced married. Tribune please be a bit sensible. Write up was good and appreciated
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