• Soumna Nema

People's Reservations-Part 1

Shubham The Privileged.


My alarm startles me out of my nightmare. I dreamt that I was in a line of people checking their Engineering Entrance exams results through a guillotine and whoever didn't clear the exam got beheaded. I had just seen that I failed but I conveniently woke up before the decapitation. But to be quite honest with you, I'd rather die than fail that damned test.

It is 6 am. It is also result day. And my nightmare is freaky enough for me to not go and try venture into despicable dreamscapes again. I know the dreamscape is going to be despicable because that's all I've been getting since falling asleep after the migraine I got from writing the exam. I gear up and go out for a jog, as per my routine for the past 2 years of my life. I leave with palpitations and I return with palpitations. I take a shower with palpitations.

I pray to Ganesha for strength, prosperity, wisdom, and to reduce these stupid palpitations.

It's a good thing my family doesn't have a history of heart disease or else I think I'd have died in my sleep. The stress levels from my smartwatch corroborate this statement. Then I proceed to eat my breakfast with palpitations. Then I sit and stare at a wall and almost get a panic attack. I call my friend, Pushpak, to talk about it and we make dirty jokes to calm down. He, too, aspires to be an engineer and gave the test with me this year. He seems somewhat relaxed. I try to tell myself to be as chill as he is as he tells me the same. Besides, I was ahead of him in academics throughout the past two years of our lives. "If he can he relaxed, I should stay relaxed too because I have more reason to be", I told myself. And then Pushpak says, "Oh my, The results are out!"


I scramble over to my computer and when I'm finally able to squeeze through the internet traffic onto the government's shitty server, I see that I've scored 94.3 percentile. I feel a little happy, since last year the cut-off was 90 percentile, before my eyes fall on this year's cut off: 94.5 percentile.


Everybody doubts if they'll make it to the IITs. But now I probably won't even make it to a decent college. I didn't even pass.


Shubham Sharma couldn't do it!


My heart sinks and rests against my kidney as if it has found it's final resting place. I can't breathe. And I hear Pushpak's words echo in the space between my two ears, because apparently there's nothing in there: "YO, I MADE IT!"


I ask him quietly, "how much did you score?". "80 percentile!", He replies cheerfully. I get so confused that I momentarily forget that my life has fallen apart. "Isn't.. isn't the cut-off 94.5 percentile?", I ask, to make him realize he failed too, obviously.


"Oh, umm..", he hesitates for a moment, "I got quota... I belong to SC category. My cut-off is 75 percentile. How much did you score man? Did you make it?", He asked, hopefully.

"No, I didn't. I scored 94.3 percentile"

"Oh %$&!, I'm sorry Shubham.. Are you okay?"


"Why did you not tell me you had quota before? And why the hell do you need this quota anyway?", I say calmly, feeling betrayed, but now I am screaming, "Aren't you well off!? You have a Mercedes for God's sake!!" And then I hang up. I begin to sob and in seconds I am fully wailing.


To my mom and dad, who had seen me work hard, with total discipline, like a god-damned monk, for the past two years of my life, this was for sure a big disappointment. And I'm really lucky to have them because instead of telling me I'm an idiot, they said that this isn't what I deserved. That I worked hard and I deserve success in life. It was just fate that I didn't get success in this exam.


I'm super grateful to my family. I'm super grateful to God.

I have faith in my abilities.


But this story isn't about that.

It's about injustice.

It's about the need for equity, not blind equality.

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