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The Fifth Exam Syndrome

Vidya has been working towards a deadline for the past couple of days, and this morning she was all keyed up as everything would be over. Over breakfast, I was telling her that things would go smoothly, and that she would be at her best today. This was the Fifth Exam Syndrome.

The fifth exam was the last exam, often preceded by about a week of sleepless nights. The fifth exam was the one before which one slept the least – not from studying too much, but from fear that one would not wake up in time for the exam! Coming as it usually did at the end of five or six totally sleep-deprived nights, the fifth exam was usually written purely on adrenalin. And, surprisingly, it would be the one on which we did the best, wrote the most and scored the maximum marks, akin to F1 cars running their fastest laps before pitting for fuel. For, in the feverish rush towards the undisturbed rest of the next few days, the fifth exam was a blur of perfection. Everything was remembered perfectly, nothing extra was written, everything was pared down to the bare essentials.

So too with events to which long and elaborate preparations have to be made. The principal players are so involved in setting it up that during the event, they are exhausted and running on adrenalin, and that is when they give their best.

So, here’s to Vidya and her “fifth exam!”

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