The Math Exam

Ring-Ring Ring-Ring; the alarm goes off,

6:13 AM, puffy-eyed; I cringe.

3 sleepless nights, spent worrying; in a row,

2 intimidating stacks of (didn’t get the) reference books

And (obviously didn’t) practice notebooks,

1 exam, ‘You-Know-Who’!

Doomsday is here. Not again, not again.

I can’t, no. I just don’t want to.

Putting on the coat of armor, my school uniform;

I pack my swords (only blue gel allowed!)

And unwillingly, drag forward.

Dear God, give us road blocks, I pray;

Dear God, give us traffic.

The lights go, Yellow-Red-Yellow-Red-Yellow-Green.

Biting nails, I pray;

Dear God, give us a tire puncture,

Dear God, make time stop, please.

But all’s in vain and I lose, Euclid wins.

For school arrives and boom! The barometer bursts.

I blank out, circling to zero; my preparation

Seems to equal the square root of minus one.

My feet drag slow, my brain functions slower.

My heart beats fast, my heart beats faster.

The war zone arrives, I sense the ultimatum; the end.

‘Tis this battlefield, where I shall martyr.

Sweat trickles down my brow,

Down my jaw, my neck; splash!

Heavy breathing, more heavy breathing.

Crossed arms, uncrossed arms;

Shifting eyes, shuffling feet.

Stop, countdown to 10, now;

10, 9, 8… breathless.

Inhale, hold, release; try again.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6… forgetting numbers.

Gather yourself woman! You can do this; try again.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4… can’t. Just can’t.

Numbers are Math too, for Ramanujan’s sake!

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2… trriingg! The bell rings.

The Hunger Games begin.

Dementors come delivering the portkey to hell,

I silently scream inside, ‘The’ exam commences.

Click-Click go pens,

Beastly mathemagicians bring out their wands and shine.

Geometry boxes glow;

Compasses and protractors draw masterpieces.

I scribble something, here and there;

Differentiating inside, into sectors and segments.

If only graph papers could measure this storm;

Anxiety on x-axis and an infinitely extending y.

Time fast forwards,

The terrorizing invigilator smirks; “2 hours to go.”

I fret, I sweat. I scribble.

Time fast forwards,

Peeking into my paper and judging,

The menacing invigilator smiles; “1 hour to go.”

I fret, I sweat. I scribble.

Time fast forwards,

Fibonacci laughs in his grave.

The wicked invigilator whispers near my ear; “Time up!”

The hair on my skin stands perpendicular;

My heart is bisected into two,

And the supplementary is snatched away tangentially.

Sobbing, after this hyperbolic ride;

I calculate the probability of passing this wreck,

By cross multiplying hope, some luck and buckets full of prayers.

“Arithmophobia?” the subject topper, grins at me;

There’s a name to this wretched thing??

“Don’t worry, you’ll get over it. Keep trying.” he sympathizes.

Oh, you know nothing, Pythagoras!

Non-terminating, recurring anxiety and I,

Will always be permanent roommates!


— Akanksha Patra

Source: The Math Exam — French Beans


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