Yesterday I appeared for an admission test for a PhD program. The two-hour exam was supposed to start from 10:30 am and I had occupied my allotted seat by 10. Around 10:15, they started distributing the answer booklets to the candidates. Usually, after I am done filling up my name, registration number, etc on the answer sheet, I pray to my Ishta and Swamiji to give me strength to be mindful during the exam so that I do not commit any errors. Yesterday was no different. After I silently prayed, there were five more minutes left for the exam to start. Since I had nothing else to do, I read the instructions written on the first page of the answer booklet.

Once the exam started, we got busy writing. After 10-15 mins had passed, when the invigilator came near me to sign my answer booklet, I noticed that I had skipped the first two pages and started writing from the third page. I realized that I may need some extra sheets of paper as I may not be able to manage the space properly. An hour passed and a candidate asked the invigilator for an extra sheet of paper, to which she replied “There is no rule of providing extra sheets of paper in this exam, it is not written in the invigilator’s guidelines”.  The candidate kept begging and the invigilator kept denying. After sometime, she agreed to call the head of the invigilators. He came and said the same thing. At that point I stood up, called the invigilator and gently made her read the instructions written on the front page of our answer booklets. The sixth instruction read : Extra sheets of paper will not be provided. However, if a candidate needs more space, he/she should be given an additional answer booklet. On reading this, the invigilator immediately apologized and brought additional booklets for us. Later, I too took one as I was in need of more space to answer two more questions. 

“Read the instructions properly”, “Little drops of water make a mighty ocean”, “Practice makes a man/woman perfect”…We are tired of hearing these clichés all the time. They sound so dry. But, dry knowledge executed repeatedly always bear juicy rewards in the end. Had I not read the instructions on the booklet properly, every candidate in my room would have been denied something we deserved. And this is also true for the most important examination : LIFE. We all receive life’s instructions from time to time. Sometimes they come in the form of a Saturday morning YouTube-video or a blogpost, at other times they come from conversations with friends or strangers. And sometimes its our intuition. In his book The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho writes: Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life. If the universe is conspiring to send us instructions, be it in the form of intuitions or omens, they are surely worth following no matter how dry they may seem in the beginning. 

Dear reader, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this post and sincerely urge you to read the instructions of life. Life’s instructions, when executed, will surely give us many good things we deserve. 

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Pijush Pratim Sarmah

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