Thief of time!

Survival of the … Latest?

Image Credit: The Awkward Yeti

College is hard. Should your foolish head doubt this timeless truth, walk in the shoes of an undergraduate juggling Clash of Clans, studies and doing nothing on a daily basis. No student worthy of the name has the time or the sense to worry about smelly shoes, let alone washing them; and so, the exercise I advise will assuredly overpower not just the doubts but also the consciousness of any mindless doubting Thomas. Having thus incontrovertibly established the veracity of the statement ‘college is hard’, we may proceed to the vexed question of how the unfortunate species condemned to the harsh environs of college survives . An extraordinary adaptation engendered by the unforgiving scholastic climate may provide a credible clue — and that is the ability to, despite all conceivable forms of pressure or incentive, get things done only at the last possible moment. The fascinating process of writing Assignments is most illustrative of this skill — a skill impelled by necessity and honed by continued practice.

Like ads on free apps, Assignments are a loathed bunch tolerated only because of their indispensability  — which is to say that they carry marks. First, of course, is that you have to do nothing — not until submission is a few working hours away. Procrastination is a virtue without whose services — we all agree on the “thief of time” description — many would have no time at all for useful activities like dreaming, snoring and staring at pictures of the Lamborghini Centenario. For those of you shaking your heads in disbelief at the omission of gaming, dating and staring at videos of cats, may I point out that what is useful constitutes an intensely subjective matter and that you can substitute my list with activities of your choice without disturbing the integrity of my assertion.

Oh Thank God! (Trigonometry during Pol Sci lectures is no sin!)

Once submission is due, the first point of order is to get the topic. Unless it has unknowingly been scribbled onto the disused pages of a Classmate (not the friend but the notebook), it will have to be found, which is usually through annoyed half-asleep friends over congested networks. The second is to simply let Google do the rest! Clicking on links that the search engine spits out on its first page is a minor inconvenience. And since plagiarism has yet to spread it’s stifling root system, indeed sprout, in this part of the world, copying directly from webpages is not only expedient but also wise. I would however add that the smart generally refrain from using Wikipedia’s extensive resources because the sheer number of citations on any given page make it unsuitable for profitable extraction. The tremendous, and not to mention meticulous, editing faculties required for the deletion of innumerable scattered superscripts is a luxury you don’t have when it’s two in the morning and only two hours before submission (you have to sleep and eat, no?).

Because the Topic is not important!

What remains after all the hard(ly?) work is the transfer of randomly selected paragraphs in neat handwriting to A4 sheets. It is a given that the word ‘Assignment’, and less frequently, the name of the subject, be treated with exotic fonts and streaks of colour and emblazoned across the cover page. Meanwhile, the topic is relegated to the indignity of being scrawled by the flimsy tip of a Cello Maxriter.

The dilemma turns to the bibliography. A list of books, real or imagined, often it’s the latter, must be provided as a matter of procedure and also, by happenstance I’m sure, as a matter of marks even if the Assignment requires individual opinion, suggested by the phrase “why do you think”, on why Alexander Pope positions “brutes” below “men” in his grand scheme of the universe. Maybe because “brutes”, unlike “men”, lack the power to fabricate non-existent sources with which to back up empty and disjointed explanations. Anyway, this dilemma kicks up frenzied activity inside classes where amidst the chaos of blank sheets, makeshift rulers, capless pens and students rushing from one promising bench to the next, the only words discernible in the din are ‘bibliography’ and ‘stapler’. The veritable storm starts to recede when the supply of staples has been exhausted and the owner, harassed to no end, refuses to supply more and calms only after the details of the four relevant books available in the library have been distorted beyond worldly comprehension — much,  I might add, to the gleeful satisfaction of everyone except the lecturer concerned.

The amount of hard work and ingenuity concentrated within the fleeting minutes of the proverbial eleventh hour appears to be an unaccountable aberration given the rather unexceptional standards maintained by the typical undergraduate. This, and may the Almighty shower abundant grace, defies all stereotypes. But I’d say it is only natural that breathless exertion should follow prolonged lethargy. And since it is natural, it is desirable. It is desirable because prolonged exertion is fatal and breathless lethargy doesn’t mean anything. And that’s how the species in consideration survives. Some have even been said to thrive! And to anyone confused as to the point of this piece, sometimes the point is that there is no point.