Stand corrected

In this hot and stuffy hall, the stand fan oscillates noisily behind me as though its blades are about to fly off. The required silence, the hall is being used for examination purposes, is further noisied by the ventilators located high above the wall of the hall. They hum away as if they enjoy sucking out the hot air that rises into the ceiling which is brightly lit – the lights contribute more heat to the already hot environment. I sit to rest my varicosed legs after having stood for the past 35 minutes. The complimentary 500ml plastic bottle of drinking water is four-fifth finished. Only 35 minutes have passed, and I have another 55 minutes to endure; and it does not add up. One-fifth of the water left, my mouth is dry again, I need to rehydrate. Global warming is getting worse, but we still construct halls that are walled with limited windows that hardly open: upwards. The doors are locked. The architect probably studied in a temperate country, UK or the US where buildings are designed to retain heat. It is hot here in ‘warm’ Malaysia and we should have halls that are airy not stuffy hot enclosures. I have rested, five minutes, enough. I need to invigilate actively. I resist gulping down the remaining drinking water, need to ration. I have 50 minutes to go – invigilate. Izuan needs to go to the loo. I watch him leave and I nod to reassure him, that it is okay to take a leak amidst an examination. I circulate for a bit. They are engrossed in regurgitating the answers to the questions. I see a hand go up. Yusri wants more writing paper. “One enough?” I ask. He smiles and lifts up two fingers: for two or for peace? “Context, Dulip! He is responding non-verbally to your query”. I sit myself at a different part of the hall, but still facing the candidates. Two security guards patrol pass the hall. They can’t see me, I can them. I didn’t know this examination was high profiled. The chief invigilator stands up, comes down the steps of the stage where he was seated, and is heading in my direction. I should get up and walk too, away from him. I notice one candidate wearing a red floral Punjabi suit complete with the dupatta (shawl). I walk pass her desk. A closer look reveals floral motives within Indian geometric design. Her dupatta has strips of thread at the end. She looks very pretty in it. I always have a mental block whenever I try recalling her first name – Eillyne. I find it phonetically challenging, more vowels than consonants. Furthermore, I didn’t know her second name, Jesse, before this. I shall call her Jesse. A Punjabi named Jasvir or Jasbir is called Jessi, as in Willy for William. I am giving Eillyne a Punjabi name from today. The scribbling and erasing and rewriting continue as the other invigilator moves around with some writing paper in his hands. He can manage the distribution. I think he enjoys handing out sheets of writing paper to the candidates. He is the tutor of the Mathematics group. The other groups are from the science and music option. I had the pleasure of interacting with – meaning teaching – two groups, not the music group. Jesse is from the music option. I don’t know her much. She is a polite student teacher. She smiles easily. She is active in sports. I have seen her in the gym and at the netball ground. Ten minutes to ‘time’s up’, I am going to finish the drinking water, circulate a bit and be ready to collect the papers. I wish Jesse well, she is sweet.


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