It was a busy day at the university. We were just done with the lectures and were on our way to the campus canteen. While the entire group was chattering in high spirits, I was silently absorbed in my own self, as if all alone in a buzzing crowd. Just then I heard my inner voice whisper with great conviction, “In the next exams, I will top in the class”.

I was used to such inner voices of different frequencies and strength guiding me each time, and this time I knew it was a special one. But without my involvement, attention and hard work, they were merely empty vibrations that would lead me to nowhere. So I chose to make this special voice a truly special one and took the responsibility to work really hard for the next exam. But was it just about holding the first rank in class or was it something else? Read on to find out…

When the professors commenced with the lectures, I realized that the syllabus was excessively lengthy and the toughest of that year. And one of the practical exams was so tough; the students literally struggled to get passing marks. But I had already made my firm resolution and there was no stepping back. So I gave my hundred percent towards my goal. I was confident about the theory part, but the practicals were difficult. And the worst being ‘viva’. I was never elated and comfortable with the viva part of the practical examination.

On the practical exam day, we were standing at our respective tables. the sounds of apparatus and glasswares interrupted the stressful silence in the laboratory.

All was fine and I completed everything in time and perfection. But the worst was still there; the viva questionnaire. Just then, two smart and strict professors entered the lab. These professors were never appointed to teach us and we had never spoken to them before, though we sometimes spotted them in our department. Their stern nature shielding behind their calm face was quite palpable. They had come as our viva examiners. All the students were disheartened. We did not want them to evaluate our orals for the already tough practical exam.

The professors began with the questionnaire. It was a pretty long paper they were carrying. It had so many questions. They began with roll number one and I was last on the roll list.

As they began asking the questions, I noticed the students could not reply to almost all the questions. They were sweating and teary-eyed. But I don’t know why something strange happened. As the professors were asking the questions. I could hear almost everything from the place I was standing and the more unusual thing was that as they found that students could not reply, they would thereafter tell all the answers to the unsolved question. I found it very weird, “why they had to reveal the answer. It was not at all required because the student was so tensed for not having answered, that knowing the answer later made no sense to them. They looked uninterested.

Till then I began to memorize all the answers along with the professors. Since I was thoroughly prepared with the theory, I found it easier to catch everything even if I was hearing some points for the first time.

Finally, the entire class finished the viva and only I remained. They walked to me and began firing the questions and I answered with great confidence as if I knew everything beforehand. Never did they know that I had memorized the questions there right in the laboratory. The professors were thrilled to see that I could answer every question they asked. They were left praising and applauding me. “You are the only person who answered every question correctly” and they went on and on with their praises.

But Somewhere I felt I was cheating them. Because it was not that I had studied the things at home. I felt as if it was copying. Unable to hear any more praises, I instantly responded, “Sir I knew nothing about the answers before coming for the exams. As you were mentioning the answers to the students, I could hear all of them and I just memorized it here itself”. I knew, accepting the truth would fetch me zero marks for the viva. But at that moment I could not betray my examiners. I did not want to cheat. The professors were strict but I had to be honest.

But to my utter surprise, my truth delighted them; they started praising me even more. “That does not matter,” the examiner said. “The fact that you could memories the answers and deliver them in the correct way was enough” and they looked happier than before.

I too was relieved and so much excited that while coming out of the lab, I almost tumbled down and poor professors had to pick me up.

Later vacations began and I went to collect my result. The peon was watering the plants. It was the same place where I had heard my inner voice and almost the same afternoon time; the weather too was so similar. When the peon saw me she smiled and said “you are the one who came first in the class? OMG, the peon!!! How does she know??

I rushed towards the office to collect my result. I had stood first in the class for that semester, scoring very good marks for that particular practical exam.

I wondered if I had not told the professors the truth maybe I would have not enjoyed the success I was seeing that day. And why were the professors giving out the answers so loudly? Maybe, nature wanted to see whether I was being truthful at that time. I felt nature was testing me. And that is why I could hear all the answers. A small amount of courage to accept the truth at that moment freed me of a lifelong guilt.

This incident taught me something:

Time and again nature will guide you with an inner voice, but your success entirely depends on your hard work.

Being truthful is tough. You may lose many things in being truthful at that moment. But in the long run, only truth prevails

image: Catalin Pop, unsplash