I keep searching for my name. The list of candidates who have passed the SSC examinations is stapled onto the soft-board in front of the headmaster’s office. Oh, my name, why can’t I see it? I focus my eyes on the first name at the top of the list and slowly make my way down. Down and down I look but still no name. End of the list I try again, and again. Slowly, unbelievably, I began to suspect the worst. I must have failed the examinations.
No, it cannot be so, there must be a mistake somewhere. Again I look and look but to no avail. My name is simply not on the list.
Tears flow from my eyes. I feel dizzy. My hands feel like ice. My legs tremble. I sit down on the steps leading to the office. It is a strange feeling having failed an examination. I cannot focus on a single thought. My mind darts from one thing to another so quickly that I feel like a ping pong ball bouncing unceasingly on the ground. Thoughts come to me, fast and furious what will my parents say, how about my friends, will they still be my friends; how about my plans for next year, shattered like glass on a concrete floor? Oh God, I feel like dying! All I want is to escape from this place, far away into an abyss so deep that I would not come out again!
Someone touches my shoulder. It is Ah Meng. He has a big smile on his face. Then I become aware of happy voices all around me, offering congratulations and thanks. I hear girls giggling happily some distance away. Ah, Meng’s countenance changes. He looks at me and asks .”What, you fail ah?” cannot find words to answer. My throat feels dry and parched. I just look at him stupidly.
Finally, Ah Meng says something like ”sorry-lah” and strides away. I sit there lost in thought.
For some time I sit wondering what I am going to do. How am I going to face my parents? What shall I tell them? In this hour of failure, I have no friends. Most of them have passed and are going around patting one another on the back. I do not see other fellow-failures. They must be as dejected as I am and are hiding somewhere, away from the stares. of the happy ones.
Eventually, my tears stop flowing, my hands and feet calm down and feel a little better. The initial shock of knowing that I have failed is over I begin to see things a little clearer. I begin to understand that I am the cause of this sad moment. So I realize that it is up to me to do something about it.
I get up and walk out of the school to the bus stop. I will go straight home and tell my parents that they had news. I will take any punishment they may mete out on me. After that, I will tell them I am going to change and make a fresh start in my studies. I have mucked about too much the past year and now I reap the result of my actions. No longer shall I waste a whole year only to get nothing in the end. I shall have to make plans to ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again.
Starting today I shall get my books together and arrange a sort of plan for serious studying. I shall have to repeat Form Three. So let it be. This time I shall do my work diligently, promptly and fully. There will be no more time for fooling around and disturbing others. My mathematics teacher will not get any more hard time from me. I shall be a model student. Only a fool will want to fail twice. I suppose I shall have to spend a bit of money taking tuition from a good mathematics teacher outside school hours, but it will be worth it.
By the time the bus reaches my house I have mostly got over the pain of having failed the examination. Well, it is time for me to begin life anew. I get down from the bus and head for my house. I see my mother sweeping the floor. If there is a time to make a fresh start, this is the time to begin. I walk up to the house. My mother looks at me.
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