25 years ago, on April 26, started a major exam in my life: the High School Certificate Exam (HSC).
I remember the day clearly. It was hot and humid. It was our Bangla I exam. For those of us from Notre Dame College, our exams were held at Kazi Nazrul College. Defying traffic and the large potholes of old Dhaka roads, we arrived at the examination center early. We had prepared for months for this series of exams.
Special pens were bought; the ink was tested and picked diligently; erasures and geometric tools were all stored in carefully cleaned boxes. A clean white shirt… pair of blue slacks; all prepared meticulously the night before. My favorite breakfast, paratha and eggs, were devoured. Everyone at home was alert that these were some special exams and “Bhaia” needed all the help he could get!
Anxious parents said there ardent prayers and sent lunch (I had requested for chicken patties from some bakery). The environment clearly created a sense of apprehension and nervous anxiety.
Little did we comprehend that our lives could forever change based on these few days and how we performed (or didn’t perform) during these days.
I am huge believer in Turning Points in our lives when an opportunity or accident happens that changes the direction of our lives for good/bad.
I remember that the whole HSC exam was not a very good exercise for me. Distracted by many things, I just didn’t think it was that important of an exam. With a cavalier attitude, I didn’t take many things seriously at that time. The results reflected my insufficient efforts.
Today, twenty five years later, our daughter, Daiyaan, is getting ready to start high school next year.
Sometimes when I talk to her, we talk about this exact experience. I ask her to consider the repercussions of the next four years in her life (better college, better network of friends, better this, better that).
Sometimes she just rolls her eyes and says, “I know, I know”. I think she realizes the importance of the next four years of her life; but she also wants to enjoy the day with her friends…thinking that, well, she will do better at the next test.
She is a good kid and works hard at school. But, sometimes, I get dramatic about her next four years, putting too much emphasis on the academic side.
It’s difficult to be a parent and watch your child go through the experiences you remember so distinctly. You just wish they don’t make the same mistakes you made, when you could have done things differently.
However, you also know that you have to let them make their own mistakes; they live in a different world, bridging continents and cultures, also a very different time.
Today, on April 26, 2009, I sit back and think about that day, twenty five years ago, that incredulous essay that I had to write in a language, that I hardly ever write anymore… the grammar that I can’t even begin to explain to my child.
I am not certain if those particular exams changed my life; however, it was still a critical juncture, a Turning Point in my life. I may not have paid close attention to the need of that moment or understood the gravity of the situation.
Do I understand the gravity of Turning Points in my life today?