Rumbling and shaking, the spacious old building manages to stay erect as we flood inside in the thousands. A thunderous echo of screeching chairs fills the vast hall as we take our seats. At once, I feel butterflies fluttering inside me. My fingers are tapping the desk, and my feet are placing a fierce rhythm on the concrete floor. I taste blood; I have bitten my bottom lip too deep in my anxiety. The seat feels uncomfortable, and my back starts to ache. But there are no more empty desks in view.
The proctors are undulating between the rows, when the announcement sounds, “Please clear your desk of everything except a pencil and your student ID”. The exam distribution has begun. I look around, noticing faces creased with discomfort, while others seem more relaxed, and yet others sit expressionless.
Suddenly, an exam is placed in front of me. I scribble my name on the front with sweaty palms before skimming through the pages. I’m yearning the coolness of an air conditioner or at least the breeze of a fan, but I hold my tongue. I read the first few questions on the page, and already I feel as though a boulder is being shoved down my throat.
A voice from within reminds me that I only have one chance at this exam; this mark will determine whether or not I will graduate. The reality is too stressful for my mind, as it tries to escape into a world of fantasy and reverie; a world of perfection. It takes all my effort to regain focus on the imperfect world I am currently living in.
I have moved onto the next page, when I catch a glimpse of the exit door. Though an hour still remains, some students have already finished their exams! They are gone. I won’t be seeing them in this hall again tonight. One chance is all they got. As the time runs on, I can see more and more students exiting the exam hall. They too are gone. I am in the midst of two emotions; envy and hope. Envious of those who have already completed their exams and left the room, but hopeful of the fact that I still have some more time to improve my answers.
Within the next hour, I feverishly finish writing the rest of my exam, uncertain of my responses, before returning to the first question. I’m trumped. I consider asking a proctor who is coming my way. As he approaches, I raise my hand, but he walks right past me. “I should know this”, I reprimand myself.
As the clock inches towards the two hour mark, I uncertainly skim through my answers before raising my hand to indicate that I have finished. I riffle through my booklet one final time before it is taken up into the hands of the proctor. That’s it. I won’t have another chance at it. I stand up dizzily, gather my belongings, and head towards the exit door. The students who are still writing may never see me again. Not tonight, perhaps not ever.
As I step out of that door, I feel a burden has been lifted from me. But another has been laid in place of it. What is my result? I ponder over this as I lay in my grave. What is my result for the exam of this life? Will I graduate and be honored with Jannah? Or will I be held back and pay the price? One chance is all I have. Until I breathe my last.
How can we make sure we prepare ourselves for the biggest exam of our lives? Please share your tips and gems in the comments section below. 🙂