Looong back, yes, really long back (probably 4 months ago), I used to live a life in which I would wonder when I could be free. Those were the times when my class 10 Board Exams were approaching, and obviously everyone of my age were under stress. Usually everyone would stop their extra-curricular activities like dance, drawing, sports, singing and other classes to concentrate for their boards. But not me and few of my friends.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my studies if I stopped going to dance class. So I didn’t stop dancing. But I had to stop my drawing classes, because I didn’t have enough time to go for both. That was because I had dance practise and programs almost everyday.
From the start of this year, 2020, I was extremely busy. We performed at several venues, and we had minimum one program every 2 weeks towards the end of 2019 (almost). My friends at school wondered how I was able to get along with the home works, tests and revision exams. I never told my teachers about my programs. Who knew schools won’t even function just two months later?
January and half of February passed on like this. I could not go to see my friends’ and seniors’ solo dance performances: my mom made me study at home instead. I could not draw or paint or even doodle. I could not listen to my favourite songs, nor watch TV. No reading books. I had forced myself to stop reading in September itself, if I’m right. I studied late into the night, because the evenings were spent at dance class. And on program days, I didn’t feel like studying at night at all.
I often whined to my dance class friends and seniors about my cut-off freedom. I had never actually been so busy with programs before. I also remember telling my mom once, “Now all the programs will come correctly when I am in 10th std.! When Nishi and Lakshu are in 10th there may not be a single program. I’ll bet on that!! When I became free, there’ll be no programs at all.”
I wouldn’t even have guessed in my wildest dreams that this would actually come true.
Until school gave us study holidays, my day would start like this: waking up groggily since I slept late due to homeworks and test-preparation, then getting ready for school. Then at school we girls would beg for a free period to let us study. When the teacher left us free, the boys would at once start a cricket match, or a secret game discussion or some or the other useless thing to waste their time. Only one or two of them actually studied. I always wondered how they could be so free. Then I realised that only I in the whole class had no time to study. Even my friends were free.
I used to pore into my books during the lunch breaks also. Towards January end and February, I excused myself from PT periods also to study alone in my class. Now when I remember all of this, it feels so stupid, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because now I don’t remember what I studied at all. Then what was the point of exerting myself over it?
I didn’t even go for the class field trip to Mahabalipuram. My school friends were all angry at me. But I was cool, because just a few days later, I went there with my dance class friends: we had a program there at the Shore Temple!
Slowly the boards were approaching. Me and my dance class friends who were also in 10th were getting extremely stressed out: we had an upcoming program in Kanchipuram, that too in the middle of Science and Maths board exams. But I didn’t know why, even though I was stressed and scared for the boards, I was really excited. When Sheela Ma’am told us about this program, I was so happy, while all our parents whined. I thought it would be a real stressbuster, a trip to Kanchipuram with all of my favourite people, doing one of my favourite dance dramas, Janani Jagath Karani (JJK).
The days of the board exams were not like I had imagined. I had thought I would be so tensed and agitated and scared. But I was merely eager to see how these ‘maha-exams’ were conducted, and how these were any different from our normal school ones. The previous night I would have been wished best of luck by my relatives, seniors and friends for the next day’s exam. That night my mom wouldn’t let me sleep late. The next day morning we would go to the nearby Murugan temple and then leave for school, from where I would go to the exam centre. After every exam, I would be soo happy if there was dance class in the evening. I would go and enjoy the rest of my day at my most favourite place with my favourite people. It was so nice to reply to all the “How was Science today?” or “How did you write Hindi?” or “Was today’s exam easy?”. But the question that would leave me a bit tensed was always, “Meghna, yenna, centum ah?”
I didn’t stop from going to dance class on the days before exams also. It made me relax, to be frank. And I also had about 3-4 programs in the middle of my board exams. My friends and I would always have our books in hand during rehearsals, but I could never study properly those times.
Towards the last exams, Maths and Science, Coronavirus started gaining fame. Few of my friends wore masks while traveling, but everyone were hesitant to wear it in the exam hall. During Social exam on March 18, the last one for us, we were seated with one bench spacing. Little did we know that it was the last day of going out freely and hugging for months to come.
Once I reached home, I was soooo elated, on cloud nine! It was finally over! Now I could finally go to dance class without a book in hand! I was so eager to see my other 10th friends at dance class and hug them in happiness. I was waiting for this very evening, when I could sit peacefully without having to worry about 10th exams in my dance class. But that evening never came. Sheela ma’am cancelled class that day, due to that idiot thing called ‘Coronavirus’ which ruined the day I had waited for the whole year!
I haven’t seen any of my school friends, dance class friends, teachers, or relatives in real-life ever since that day. All the excitement which I had slowly pumped up into a huge ball the whole year, shattered on March 18. Since then, I haven’t gone outside beyond the grocery shops near my house. All celebrations ruined because of one evil invisible virus. I have no more words to express my sorrow and anger. So, goodbye.