3.30pm yesterday marked the end of the third year of my undergraduate degree. The moment the invigilator commanded for everyone to cease writing and to put our pens down, a wave of liberation traversed throughout the entire examination hall. How many smiles were there I wonder? 120 smiles perhaps? Some with teeth, some with dimples, some cheeky, some excited. That's artificial optimism. I forget how it is also possible to feel indifferent, tired, plain swamped.
Smiles everywhere, soon translated into unacceptable chatter. Bubbles of excitement surfaced, spread like wildfire. Beloved lecturer (who never once raised his voice to the class) yelled for some quiet. Peace restored, only to the ear. Jumpy buttocks on the seats. Heels bobbed up and down. Papers collected, counted, boxed away. Glances made between comrades. Impatient effort to keep still. Invigilators raised the green flag for leave. A scraping of chairs. A stampede for the bags. A hoard of happy faces out of the door. Out Out! Freedom awaits! Friends tickle each other. Hands shaken. Hugs exchanged.
"Congratulations!". "Happy holidays!" "How did you find the paper?". "It's finally over!"
For some, the end meant no more waking up at 4am in a frenzy to squeeze more information into their cramped brains. For others, it signaled an end to their hermit lives in the library. Proper food afterwards, no more takeaways. 8 hours of sleep or more, finally. A haircut perhaps? A shave right after?
Wonderful it was, the great sense of achievement that comes after 2 months of mugging. All the stress and bitter frustration, washed away in a sea of excitement. Life is so much more, and it was regained again, a few moments after 3.30 pm yesterday.