drop in the bucket

Saad arrived thirty minutes before exam time. The halls were full of nervous, chaotic students chattering about possible solutions and methods. Saad, however, felt a silent calm. It wasn’t that he was confident, he was simply tired. He had been up all night long, in bed with the textbook and problem sets, and with coffee as his companion.

When the TA had given the go, Saad decided to pace himself through the exam. Easy questions first and hardest questions last, he thought. Half an hour into the exam, his stomach started to growl. Saad had skipped breakfast in the morning, or perhaps he had forgotten. He tightened his abdomen muscles hoping no one heard anything.

With an hour left to go, Saad started to doze off a little. He quickly shook it off, and continued with the exam. He started to feel that his nose had started to run, and before he could reach for a tissue paper, a drop from his nose fell splat on the exam paper. Except that this drop was red in colour. Saad realized that his nose had started to bleed. He brought this right hand up to his nose, as a cup to hold and collect the drops of blood. He raised his left hand to catch the TA’s attention, “My nose is bleeding.”

“Are you okay?” asked the TA, a little concerned and a little suspicious.

“I’ll be fine, it’s just blood,” Saad rushed towards the washrooms.

As drops of blood fell onto the sink, Saad rolled up a piece of paper towel, stuck it up his nostril, and washed the blood off his hand. He cleaned up the sink and looked at the ceiling for a few minutes, hoping to let the blood clot and hold. Once satisfied, he took extra pieces of paper towel with him back to the exam room, just in case.

“Are you okay?” asked the TA again.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Saad took his seat in the exam room.

There were a number of problems left to solve and Saad started to work his way into the exam. After a few moments he heard a sound, “Psssttt…”

Saad looked around and everyone seemed to be continuing as normal. The TA was seated at the front of the room, reading a magazine.

“Psssttt…,” Saad heard the sound again, realising that it was coming from the drop of blood, “You had a great chance to cheat there.”

“What?” replied Saad, in a whisper.

“When you went to the washroom, you had a great chance to cheat.”

“No, I mean… what is going on? How is this possible?”

“How is what possible?”

“This conversation, I am talking to a drop of blood.” Saad looked at the drop that had now embedded itself into the exam paper and turned a purple like colour.

“So what? Who told you blood can’t talk? You’re talking to me now, so this must be real.”

“This is insane!”

“Hah, I think you had better concentrate on your exam, Saad.”

“Not with all this talking, can you keep it down? The TA is already suspicious of brown people, I don’t want to get into any trouble.”

Saad continued on with some of the harder problems on the exam.

“I think you better double check that.”

“What? Double check what?”

“That problem you just finished, the third step is messed up.”

“Holy shit, you’re right! How did you know?”

“I’m literally a part of the paper. Oh, and you should know, the answer to question number 11 is the same as question number 3. Question 11 is the hardest.”

“Wait a minute, this is cheating!”

“How is it cheating?”

“You’re giving me the answers and correcting my mistakes.”

“But I was a part of you, I am your blood. How can this be cheating?”

“Because you’re telling me what to do before I think of it. Are you just my mind?”

“No, I am your blood.”

The TA fake coughed, putting an end to Saad’s whispers. The answer to question 11 was indeed the same as the answer to question 3.

“See, I told you so,” said the drop of blood.

“Yes, thank you, but there is something so wrong about this. I need you to go away.”

“You still have a few more questions to do.”

Saad went on to finish the exam with hints from the drop blood from time to time. The exam time ended and the TA started to collect all the papers.

“I hope I never have to see you again,” whispered Saad.

“Excuse me? If you’re taking thermodynamics next semester, you will see me.”, said the TA, slightly disturbed.

On the way back home all the students were discussing their answers and planning for the next exam.

“How’d it go Saad?” asked Helen.

“It was weird, but I think it went fine. I think,” replied Saad, “I’m too tired to think, I haven’t slept.”

Saad immediately fell asleep when he got home.

1 Comment

  1. As would everyone else who tried to answer these questions objectively.

    The trick, quite often, was to attach the maximum number of extra sheets in your subjective and very lengthy answer. That and a lot of praying.

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