20th June, 2003. I still remember the day’s events as if they happened just yesterday. My kid brother had appeared for the IIT entrance exam and his results were expected that day. This was his second attempt at the entrance. He was also a first-year engineering student. His second semester exams were due to start the same day.
My brother had slogged very hard for the IIT entrance. I would often see him perched with a thick Physics book and a sheaf of papers, working on some complex equation. I would ask him if he ever got bored of those scary equations. His answer would always be negative. A week before the exam, he went completely nuts. He shut all his books, switched on the radio, and danced throughout the house. I guess this is what happens when you spend days and nights with complex Physics equations:)
On the day of the result, all of us were pretty tensed since morning. Dad wished him luck and left for work. The internet at our home was not working, so I and my brother left in search of an internet café. We settled down into one and began the ardent task of entering his number on the website to check the results. Unfortunately, a million other students were doing the same thing causing the server to return an error. We tried in vain for a long time. It was also getting late for him to go to his exam center for his engineering paper. If he couldn’t get into IIT that year, then he would have to continue with his engineering college.
I told my brother to proceed to his exam center and assured him that I would keep checking the results. He left with uncertainty. Almost 20 minutes after he left, I was lucky. I entered his number and the website displayed the result. I had to blink my eyes several times to get rid of my tears and absorb the result. He was AIR 1249. My joy knew no bounds as I called my mother on our residence number and told her the good news. Our voices broke several times with the tumult of emotions. With his AIR, he would definitely get admission into one of the seven IIT’s. I told my mother that I would go to the exam center and tell my brother the news before his exam began.
In those days, my brother and I did not have cell phones. My brother had told me that his exam center was Watumal Engineering College in Worli. So I headed in search for that college. As I left the internet café, it started raining. I had a tough time reaching the college after taking a bus and a taxi. As I reached the college, I realized that a difficult task lay ahead. I did not know his roll number or the room he would be in. I knew it was foolhardy to search for my brother. But I could not bear the idea of him not knowing the wonderful news for another four hours. The college’s seven floors loomed high above me. I started my search with the top floor.
There were hundreds of students reading through last minute notes. I peeked in each and every room; I ran from floor to floor. The exam was scheduled to start at 11am and I had a good half hour to search for him. I even spoke to couple of students and asked them their last names hoping to figure out some way to know his room. As the students began to take their seats for the paper, I still hadn’t found my brother. Finally, the exam started and I realized that my brother would be in one of the rooms, sitting unaware that he need not write that paper.
I decided to call my mother and inform her that I couldn’t locate my brother and would be heading home. We did not have any other option than to wait for him to return home or call my mother. Imagine my utter shock when my mother told me that my brother already knew his result. It seems he had called home. He told my mom that he went to the center and realized his roll number was not on the list. He found out that he had noted the incorrect center. His exam center was not in Worli, but in Dadar. While he made his departure from the Worli College, I was already en route to that college. He left the Worli College and tried to reach the Dadar center. But due to the rain, the road was flooded with traffic. He realized he would never make it to the paper on time. He got down from the bus, called mom on the landline, and heard the good news. He was sure that he would get admission in IIT. He headed home.
When I heard that my brother had taken down the wrong exam center and made me go through the hopeless task of finding him in a college where he would never be found, I just lost it. I told my mother that my brother was somehow intelligent enough to crack the IIT exams but forgot his intelligence when it came to simple things like noting down the exam center. Had he not got a good AIR, he would have got an absentee on the engineering paper. I was furious with my brother. I was also tired, hungry, and dehydrated. I swore that I would give my brother a piece of my mind on reaching home.
Again, I battled through the rain and traffic and spent a good hour to reach home. I rang the doorbell and mom opened the door. I was about to open my mouth and unleash my anger when I looked at my brother. My anger vanished into thin air. I had never seen my brother cry after he became a teenager. But his eyes were filled with tears of happiness as he embraced me in a tight hug. I have never known my brother to be emotional, but it was not an ordinary day.
It was a day when a mother’s sacrifices came to fruition. It was a day when a father’s chest swelled with pride. It was a day when a sister became utterly proud of her little brother. It was a day when a young boy’s efforts, determination, and dedication guaranteed him a seat in India’s top technical colleges.
Indeed, it was not an ordinary day.
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