21st March 2013

It is 10am. I have been awoken from a deep slumber by a sudden pounding in my chest. I sit up in bed, surprised that I even managed to get any sleep. Those prayers that I uttered before I fell asleep the night before worked after all. But now it is time to face reality. It is results day. The day I have been dreading for months since my exams ended.

Today will determine my future. Whether or not I qualify to enter a university. Any one of those universities would do. I have already sent in my applications, but today is verdict day. Many of my seniors didn’t make it. I tremble in fear at the thought of not being able to pursue a degree.

2 hours till my results are officially released to the public. What am I going to do to occupy myself until then? I pick up my iPad and absent-mindedly open a few apps. Subway Surfers, Candy Crush, Facebook, Twitter, anything that would take my mind off my impending doom.

After what feels like an eternity, I glance at the time stated at the top of my iPad screen. 10:30am. Shit. I begin to ponder on the past one and a half years. Those insufferable months of studying something I had lost interest in. Preparations for one of the most difficult exams ever. I almost tear up reminiscing the weeks leading up to my exams where I pored over my books, albeit at the last minute, then almost giving up. The teachers who had so kindly offered motivation and advice.

Soon, it becomes 11:45am. 15 more minutes. I decide to stream an episode of How I Met Your Mother. Maybe a few laughs will distract me. The Internet is mercilessly slow. This adds to my frustrations. At least I wasn’t thinking too much about my results anymore.

11:59am. My hands are itching. I think to myself, “Maybe there is a glitch in the system. Maybe my results will be released by now. It is almost time anyway.”

I grab my phone and send a pre-composed text to 15888. Almost immediately, a reply comes in. My heart is racing. I open the message. It is an apology message, informing me that my results will only be released at 12pm. I wonder what difference it makes. It’s half a minute to 12pm anyway.

I have missed 12pm. It is now 12:01pm. I frantically send the same text to the same number. The next four minutes are the longest four minutes of my life. The reply is excruciatingly slow.

I finally get my reply at 12:05pm. My hands are trembling. I open the message. My eyes widen in shock. I did it. I jump.

I burst out of my bedroom to see my mother hunched over a piece of foolscap paper at the dining table. I tell her everything. I have done way better than I ever thought I could do. She shows an indifferent façade, but her facial expressions register signs of relief.

I call my father, who probably just reached Kuching after a weekend trip to Bintulu. He sounds the way he normally sounds. But it doesn’t matter to me. I did it.

I shower in a hurry. I grab my phone and purse and stuff them into a bag, and I speed off to school. By then, it is already 12:30pm and most of my friends have already left. No matter.

With trembling hands, I approach the counter in the school’s administrative office. The clerk asks for my name and hands me my slip. I look at it in sheer disbelief. I did it.

I don’t know what to do next. I decide to see all my teachers and thank them. The first teacher I meet is Madam Belinda, my MUET teacher. She was one of my main motivators during a time where I felt lost and dejected.

She sees me, and she pulls me in for a hug. Her embrace is warm and welcoming. I almost tear up when she congratulates me and tells me I have done well despite everything I went through. I learn that I did relatively well compared to many others. I cannot believe it.

She leads me into the faculty room. I first meet my PA teacher who doubled as my class teacher for a year. She grins at me and says, “Wah, I didn’t know you could get an A for PA too.” I remember all those times I refused to read my PA textbook and got all my graphs mixed up. I thank her, because if it wasn’t for her guidance, I would have failed for sure. I also remember the time when she told my dad to make sure I read my PA textbook. Even after that, I never did.

With a last thank you to Madam Law, I proceed to Madam Josephine’s desk. She is on her laptop, probably doing an analysis of our results. I thank her too. She stands up and gives me a big hug. She congratulates me and looks at my result slip. She, too, says I have done well. Better than I ever did in class. I am embarrassed. She taught me very well. Despite it all, she still stands as one of my favorite teachers.

Next, I spy Madam June by the computer. She is composing an email. I say hello to her and she is smiling. She curtly shakes my hand and congratulates me for my achievement. I tell her what I want to do next. She is very supportive. I then realize how much I miss her and her lessons. Although strict, she always made sure we knew what we were learning. I miss her odd sense of humor too.

Lastly, I say hello to Mr. Fabian. He greets me with his usual jokes. He mournfully tells me he is disappointed by the impossibly high standards of last year’s Maths paper. Many in my class failed. I am so blessed to be one out of six to have passed.

I leave the faculty room, and I leave St. Joseph’s school, officially a graduate. I am swelling with pride for the school that moulded me for one and a half years. For most of my life I studied in St. Teresa’s, and although it is only opposite St. Joseph’s, I never got to know how great St. Joseph’s is. I know now.

Here’s to all the teachers who were there for me and the friends who kept me company. We might not all have done well, but I know in my heart that we have succeeded. We got through one of the toughest public examinations in the world, still in one piece. Ora et Labora.

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Author: Natalie Ha

I remember being enthralled with the written word ever since my parents started reading fairytales to me at a young age. Seeing the power it has to influence behaviours and mindsets, I have learned, over the years, to translate my thoughts onto paper, in an attempt to positively disrupt the lives of others. Having my written works published in various forms of media has empowered me to weave stories that people can resonate with. I look forward to the life-long process of perfecting this craft, and hope to see my work touch the hearts of many in the future. This blog attempts to do just that - and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy penning it down.

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