The Examination

During my computer studies at an Institute in Mumbai, I got a membership at the J. N Petit Library which was on the way to Flora fountain/ Hutatma Chowk. My Institute had 2 centres, one at Nariman point and the other one on the ground floor of the same J N Petit library. This made me shuttle between Fort area and Nariman point either on foot or in a bus. Sometimes while going to the classes, I used to take a bus from V. T station and most of the time walking back was criss cross the Oval, Cross and the Azad cricket grounds where I could see some cricketing greats honing their skills.

Before I could complete my project, I got a job as a faculty at a firm which had it’s office in the same area. Now walking sessions were  between the office and the Institute and sometimes a halt at the library. Once I had to appear for a subject paper that I couldn’t attend earlier. Now after many months  I called the Institute and asked for a re-exam option and they said the next week the subject exam was scheduled and we could attend it. I and my friend Nissar, who had also skipped the earlier exam reached the Institute just in time and rushed into our seats and asked for the papers. I guess we were one or two minutes late into the exam.

The professor who hosted the subject exam at Nariman point, Embassy Centre office was a different person. A senior person well into his late fifties, he was highly irritated and asked both of us to stand up. No wonder, as we without asking or consulting him had barged into the room and on to our seats without having the basic courtesy to greet him or even acknowledge that there was a teacher in the room. Such audacious and irresponsible students he had not seen in his entire career. He gave us a good rebuke for 5 long minutes in front of his students. Slowly he calmed down as we stood still patiently hearing without giving any excuses. Finally he asked us both to sit down and write the exam which we did and gave him our answer papers and silently left the Institute. Nissar had to hurry to his Maker Chambers office leaving me alone to walk all the good 3 kms to V. T station or the C.S.T. All the while walking, I was wondering if our actions warranted such a strong rebuke from the professor.

Agreed, we had not greeted him as we walked into the exam nor had we met him earlier to tell him that we were writing his exam. But we had seen in our other exams where students from an earlier batch come silently and write the exam. Yes I was wrong, maybe we should have talked to him or atleast greeted him as we walked in. These thoughts kept me company in my 45 minutes walk back to the C. S. T.

One day, a few months after the above incident,  I climbed the stairs to the Petit library  to return some books and borrow some. I thought of sitting down and read some of the magazines which is when I noticed the professor sitting across the marble topped table. I went to him and sat next to him and wished him a good afternoon. He recognized me immediately from our earlier meeting and was sorry to have been tough on us that day. He was, I gathered, had been with the mainframes division at LIC and was a part time faculty after his retirement. What he told next was this… When I saw you two walking into the room without showing any manners, it reminded me of my son of the same age as yours and I equated your behavior with his. He  doesn’t listen to any of my good advice. So I got angry and I admit I should not have done this to you two, who had come to write the exam. I consoled him saying that boys of our age were like mannered and he had to take it lightly on his son to which he agreed. Finally he said, inspite of all the harsh sounding I gave, you surprised me when you passed with good marks. Yes, I told him in jest, we might lack in manners but our intent to perform well in the exam was strong and could not be dented by his rebuke. We talked for a good thirty minutes before I bid bye to him. This incident taught me two things. Just because the first meeting is a failure doesn’t mean you can’t patch up and be friends the next time you meet. The next learning is, if someone rebukes you there might be other things on the person’s mind that caused him to behave so, and you definitely need to give him or her a second chance…

J. N. Petit Library