Studying Gone Amiss

“You need not answer all the questions! You can just laugh and laugh again.”

David read and read the sentence. When he walked in for the prestigious examination, he hadn’t expected such adverse directions. What do they mean he could laugh and laugh again? Was this some kind of sick game they’re playing on the candidates? His brother had warned him that the exam would hurl unexpectedness at his face, but this was more than what David had expected, even for unexpectedness.

He flipped the page to the first question. It was about fitting quadrangles into triangles. He knew that one, and so he wrote the answer. He moved on to the next: circles and cylinders. Easy. Next: a fraction of Fraction. Next: decoding BODMAS. Next: passive and active voice. Ok, thought David. Weird, but easy. Next: Calculating calculus. Equating differentials. Pi value. And the case of the missing pies.

David closed the question booklet and stared at the board in front of him. What the hell was this? How could such a question paper determine the next generation’s Discipliners?

His brother had written the same test four years ago and was now a qualified Discipliner. He was David’s inspiration. And yet, even his brother had had hard times grasping his job.

His brother’s words rang in his ears: “I am confused at times. Should I sound? Should I echo?” The boss would scream swear words, and he had to react by either repeating or protesting. Being impassive led to the gallows while a wrong reaction resulted in a beating. He told David that he could never understand what he had to do.

Every morning, he’d dress up ready for battle. Some days the Coaches made him rub the floor, and some days they’d hunt aliens. It was a weird job, his brother had said. But it’s worth it; it made their parents proud and the girls all loved a Discipliner.

David was still looking at the empty blackboard facing him. He didn’t know what to do, or how to go on. All of a sudden, a supervisor stood in front of him, blocking out the blackboard. “You done?” He crouched down at David, peering above the horn-rimmed magnifying glasses on his nose.

“I’m just thinking,” David managed a menial reply.

At this, the supervisor threw his head back and laughed long and hard. “Thoughts!” he rumbled so that the whole classroom could hear “— they do what we don’t ask for!” He laughed again, turned around, and swept away to torment a candidate in the next row. David watched as his long robes billowed about his heels.

David looked down at the footer of the question paper: Inter- Intra- Galactic Discipliners — Preliminary Examination. He had thought this would be a tough exam. He had thought the test would test him against aliens, ask about their weaknesses, their strengths, and combat strategies. And instead, the questions were about his high school subjects.

At times, we pretend to think on one and actually think everything else! The voice in his head pointed out like a wise sage. You lied to your parents about studying for your semester exams and binged in Men in Black instead. You pretended to study math but digressed.

David looked down at the footer of the question paper: Mathematic Principles. And then it hit him.

“I knew it!” He whispered to himself, clenching his fists under the table and kicking himself in his mind. “I knew that I didn’t know math!”

And that’s why you should’ve studied, the voice in his head supplied.


incredible-blogger-marathon-challenge-5I’ve signed up for the Incredible Blogger Marathon Challenge. It’s a ten-task-challenge that can span up to fifteen days. This post is my response to the fifth challenge: Not So Quite Quote. The challenge is to write a story including the following quotes:

Quote 1: I am confused at times. Should I sound? Should I echo?

Quote 2: You need not answer all the questions! You can just laugh and laugh again.

Quote 3: Thoughts – they do what we don’t ask for!

Quote 4: I knew it! That I don’t know!

Quote 5: At times, we pretend to think on one and actually think everything else!

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