So I recently appeared for my Masters in English Literature exams, which I have been pursuing through the distance mode. I turned up a good one hour early on the first exam as we didn’t know what rooms we were assigned to write the exams in, even though it just takes 5 minutes to find out from the charts pasted outside on the College board.

When I entered the examination hall, the heterogeneity of the group was very impressive. There were people ranging from the age group of 24 to probably 54, both men and women. Some were accompanied by their fathers, others by their husbands.

I was pretty encouraged to see a dignified lady that looked almost as old as my grandmother, maybe a few years younger or more, but definitely at least 50 plus. It just makes on feel like it is never too late to pursue your dreams or finish an incomplete education. Some fragments of her conversation with another lady reached my ears.

“I really love English, now I have time and I can study..” she said. It was sweet. As the clock ticked towards exam time, the lady moved from the upper bench she was assigned and requested the invigilator to let her sit on the front bench since she had some problem in her leg and had difficulty moving about. He was obviously kind enough to heed to the request.

Soon, we started furiously writing, or well, at least I did and was busy answering the question paper at hand. In invigilator kept pacing up and down across the hall, making sure none of us tried to peep into another’s paper, or had hidden notes to cheat from.

After about an hour, the first casualty of the vigilant professor’s eye was none other than the old lady — she had a chit the size of my palm, actually my palm is quite small, it was bigger than my hand — as the invigilator walked by her and snatched a little paper which she was copying from under her answer sheet.

It was just sheer luck that I had my head up and was mulling over some question when it happened or I wouldn’t even have come to know as for some strange reason the professor did not tell her anything and just let her continue writing, minus the aid of her note of-course.

After a few minutes, he caught another person cheating, but this time he snatched his paper and sent him out of the class. Unfair I would say, but let’s move on.

The next day, out seat allocations in the exam hall had changed and I was in the first bench where the old lady was sitting.

“You did not attend the classes?”, she addressed me out of the blue.

Even though it was a distance course, the university would hold Sunday classes for the benefit of students but attendance wasn’t compulsory.

I explained that I worked in a different city and it wasn’t possible for me to attend classes. After another minutes of small talk we went back to doing some last minute revision.

And what I noticed amused me to no end. The lady started jotting down some points in a chit again!

I had two more lessons for day 2 –

You are never too old to cheat!

And don’t let life discourage you

(even if you are caught)