I have always been a dreamer. Not the idealistic kind but the one who actively dreams every night. Where my dreams are often better than my reality because of their sheer craziness. Sometimes I get up happy and actually wish I could go on dreaming. But there are times when I get up feeling that I should have woken earlier and broken the dream.
One such dream is the Examination Dream. This is a common enough anxiety for all of us, especially as students and is an oft repeated theme in my repertoire of dreams. I first had it when I was doing a Maths paper as part of the Economics syllabus in my BA examination.
Now mathematics was never my strong suit ( gender bias???) and even though I was not petrified of numbers, I used to get anxious about getting the answers right.
“It’s not the answer. It’s the method” the teachers used to counsel and I took comfort from these words.
I also used this insight to develop my own method to score the marks that mattered – I approached each problem as something that could be tackled step-by- step devised a formula. I mastered the step -by-step solution to 5 problems that we would be tested on.( (We needed to answer only 5 questions with ONE problem each and several of these problems were repeated so statistically I knew which 5 were the likely questions) . This simple map helped me always make it through. However, despite having the formula right, it was not without its anxieties. I knew that I would score well above the passing marks, yet I was still worried. I spent a restless night in a fearful dream that is as clear as yesterday.
The Potatoes in a Square Dream
I am sitting in an examination hall filled with students bent over their answer sheets, staring at the problem in front of me.
The question paper consists of a clearly marked out square . A basket of potatoes of assorted sizes is kept on the desk. There was only question I had to answer :
How many potatoes will fit in the square?
Herein in lay the problem. Now what was the right answer? Do I put potatoes of different sizes? Or only choose similar sized potatoes?
I break out into a cold sweat. The invigilator walking down the aisles sees my predicament and slowly comes behind me. He stares down my shoulder and with his cane tapping on his side, continues to bore through my skull. I can feel the sweat begin to trickle down my spine. The tick-tock of the clock becomes louder with each tap. And the fan whirring on top becomes bigger and bigger as it comes down towards my head. My heart begins to pound as I place one potato in the square and the next and the next and…….the bell rings out shrilly. The Chief Invigilator shouts ” Last 5 minutes”.
I am paralysed. Suddenly he bellows “Pens Down” and I scribble the answer 2 potatoes in the Square, in haste. The final bell rings.
Immediately, the invigilators begin picking up the answer sheets and we sit quietly looking around. There are some triumphant grins, some sweaty palms, furrowed brows and sheer relief!
Just before I wake up, a stern voice roars
” What only 2 potatoes in the Square?”
I knew I had failed the test.
We all have dreams and this dream often recurs whenever I have a stressful situation ahead, particularly examination related. When my children were giving examinations, I often dreamed of potatoes in the square. Each time waking up grateful that it was only a dream. It’s been a while now since anyone in my family has appeared for an examination and I haven’t dreamed this dream for a while.
But wait, my little Wow Dinga has just begun big school. Will the potato dream make a come back?