Anxiety was creeping in as I was waiting for my interview with the science teachers. Finally, when I sat there, the biology teacher asked me why I was interested in studying science. I said that I was good at biology. Or something to that effect, I don’t remember the exact words. He asked, “What is the difference between a plant cell and an animal cell”. I was silent. But thanks to the other teacher sitting nearer, who whispered something in my ear. And I replied, “Animal cell is made of meat while plant cell is made of wood”. Interview was in my local language, Pashto, so it was a lot sillier than it sounds in English. And I was admitted into science class in my high school.
|Me explaining the mysteries of life :)|
Later, during a monthly test, we were asked how many chambers a frog heart had and I replied 4. Teacher said it was incorrect and that there were 5 chambers. So I thought, I should remember this thing. Next month, question was, “How many chambers a human heart has?” I replied, “Five”. Again it was the wrong answer.
In my arts/drawing class, we were asked to draw a bird. So I drew this beautiful bird using all the crayons available. I showed it to our teacher, he appreciated it and I was very happy. But then he asked me whether it was a dog. I was perplexed but he said what that collar was doing on its neck. I was silent.
Finally, we were having our matriculation exams and I would check the schedule every day, once before paper started and again after the paper so that I could prepare for the next one. But after a few days, I literally memorized it by heart and it was not necessary to check again and again. On weekend, I reached home and I was happy that the next paper was of physics and so I started solving the numerical questions as I liked those. After a good preparation, I reached the bus stop on Monday morning. There I met my class-fellows and casually I asked one of them what he was studying. He replied, “Circulatory system”. I was surprised what that fool was doing. Who on earth study a biology topic on the morning of a physics exam? But world is full of such idiots and clearly he was one of them. We reached our school and when the question papers were distributed, the gravity of the situation fully dawned upon me. I nearly fainted as it was a biology paper.
After school, there was interview for college admission and panel of subject specialists were firing different questions at rate of 60 questions per hour. English teacher asked me about a poem and I started, “Twinkle twinkle little stars…” Later I realized that had I read my English book at school, I would have known that there were many other poems. History teacher asked me who the father of Muhammad bin Qasim was. I said I didn't know. I answered questions of the other specialists with equal confidence. I got admission. And I found some wonderful teachers. I learnt about different subjects. In biology, I finally learnt that Rana tigrina was actually a frog.
During the exam, we were asked to dissect an earthworm. I was confidently dissecting when the examiner came and stood beside me asking questions. I was replying really well and showing him different parts of the dissected creature. He seemed really impressed about my knowledge and surgical skills. I couldn't believe that sometime ago, I didn't know how many chambers a heart had and now examiner was impressed with my command of biology. I secretly glanced around to see if some other students were looking and jinxing me? During my reverie, I heard a distant voice, on second thought it was voice of the examiner. “For dissection, the ventral side should have been up while you have started dissecting on the dorsal side”. And the 4-chambers/5-chambers me was back.
Many years later, today before I was to present my PhD thesis, destiny seemed to be the only explanation for my long journey. I don’t know why I can’t remember any particular instance from my university life. I shall write more about it when something comes up. For now, I am devouring the moment.