It was the 18th of March, Covid-19, rightly named as a novel virus, at least for India with cases standing at a mere 50. But its novelty was the biggest problem of all. We weren’t exactly sure of how it spreads, how long it survives on surfaces and just how many lives it would take.
Unknowingly, for a few class X ICSE students, it would be their last exam for the year, as it finally was called-off after three long months of delay. All we knew as students, were only oversees footage or unwarranted theories spreading on WhatsApp and other platforms, more contagiously than the virus did.
Masks weren’t as common as they did now, among the general public, at least in our neighbourhood. However, restrictions were imposed on public gatherings and awareness too was on the rise.
As my father had travelled out of station on account of work, I was supposed to commute to school by public transport for a week. All along the way, I was troubled with thoughts of contracting the infection outdoors. Oh, the railing! Oh, the ticket, the handle, the seat! All these everyday objects I touched and acts I did, that seemed so involuntary, now was a potential danger. Should I sit or not? Should I spare the change? What if I become a vector to pass it on to someone else? Worrying questions, which anyone would have told are not the thoughts about which a student before an examination, should be anxious about. But the times were so.
If anyone coughed in the next seat, the concern of risk factor agonising. If I saw someone wearing a mask, I would fear not having taken those precautions, as it wasn’t a familiar practice, that we were used to. After a seemingly eternal ride of two kilometres, I got off the bus, shrugging my shoulders and tucking my arms into my body, to avoid any kind of contact. A few paces and I was on the campus, waiting along with the rest.
A word of COVID amidst the gossip was enough to again reconsider the safety of my journey. With the same discomfort, the three hours paper was finished and later a day, when the exams were temporarily postponed.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who made it to exam centres with such disturbing thoughts, then. Added with exam pressure it’s just overwhelming. Looking back, it seems insignificant, but the fear of the unknown is always the greatest fear.
Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. I would like to express my gratitude to our beloved Principal Ma’am and all the teachers for grooming me into a confident, fearless human being who can face any obstacle without fear.