Exit Gate

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Once you’re in, you have to exit, there’s no other option. What truly matters is the actions you take and the impact you make while you are inside. Remember, the sacrifices you make and the penance you undertake will define your legacy.

Little did I know that picking up my daughter from her competitive exam venue would present an unexpected challenge. The huge crowd of parents near the exit gate —like a Kumbha Mela fair—made me realise that the next half-hour would test my patience and endurance, much like a student in an exam hall.

Thirty minutes to go.
The Exit gate crowd atmosphere creates a feeling of uneasiness and discomfort, making the act of waiting difficult. Moreover, the throng of parents at the exit shows no sign of subsiding. As I stand there, memories of my exam days remind me of how my friends and I used to pedal our bicycles to the exam Centre, often two sharing one cycle. Nowadays, it seems like a full family event to drop off and pick up a child, leading to inevitable crowds. In my time, smearing sandalwood paste on the forehead was believed to bring success in exams, no matter how well-prepared one was.

However, as time passes, traditional beliefs, rituals and practices are often dismissed as superstitious. The fact is, economic prosperity can change people’s perception of faith. As material well-being improves, faith may be seen as superstition by the rich, but for the poor, it may be still an expression of their beliefs or faith.

The exit gate is fully engulfed by standing parents, resulting in restricted movement. The discarded plastic bottles are littered all over the ground like orphans. All parents were anxious, and eagerly awaiting how soon the exit gate would open. However, time flows differently. For the student in the examination hall, time flows fast, but for parents waiting outside, time flows slowly. I notice that few parents lift their phones, cameras in hand using the zoom feature to spot their children when they will pass through the gate.

Although the security staff warns blaring their portable speakers to avoid a stampede, unfortunately, their words fall on deaf ears. It seems listening is a rare commodity in the crowd. The exit gate was a sight to behold.

Last 15 minutes to go.
Amidst my challenges, I noticed an exhausted young boy approaching me carrying a worn-out bag on the back. It seems he wants to talk to me, but not getting confident. He hesitantly came closer and asked, “Uncle, how can I reach this place?” I was perplexed and replied, “But you’re already here.” Why are you asking? He explained that he had come for a site pre- inspection of the venue for his upcoming competitive exam next week. He also recounted the difficulty he faced during his strenuous five-hour travel time to cover a mere 40 kilometres from his home to the venue.

Feeling a deep sense of disappointment and helplessness, I could not find any other means to help him but silently whisper my heartfelt wish, “May God bless you.”

I felt a deep sense of compassion for him and was determined to help him by providing a well-thought- out route plan. But the crowd was now becoming increasingly uncontrollable, and my strong toes were the only thing keeping me standing. Any moment, the final exam bell will ring, and students’ fate will be sealed. Though I am trying various alternative route plans for him but struggling to find a suitable one. I realized optimizing time to destination in the absence of price is too difficult. In the meantime, the crowded chaos had swiftly separated me from the boy, leaving us three to four feet apart and the distance between us kept widening. Suddenly, a brilliant and innovative route plan came to my mind, but how could I pass it on to him in this nosy crowd? I struggled to get closer to him, but the chaotic crowd made it extremely difficult to walk even a few feet towards him. Although he looks at me and I look at him, it is impossible to communicate. As the crowd became more intense, I feared that my chance of helping him would vanish at any moment. Even though my watchful eye remained fixed on him, he disappeared from my sight into the bustling crowd.
Feeling a deep sense of disappointment and helplessness, I could not find any other means to help him but silently whisper my heartfelt wish, “May God bless you.” The timing of people entering or exiting our lives is something beyond our control. What matters most is the impact we have on one another during the time we share. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

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3 Responses on this post

  1. Nice narration
    If only he had provided optimised route it would have ended on a happy note