Illustration credits: Gopika Gopakumar

She walked past chambers filled with fully groomed robots, towards a gate with broken wooden edges which slowly fell apart, into an arena overflowing with speculation and tension. Her bright crimson armour reflected light in all directions, as it shined in an illusion. Her slick black hair was tightly tied up in a high ponytail as she stood at the centre of the arena, slowly ungriping her weapons as she bent down with a hunch and let them on the ground. She sat cross-legged comfortably on the ground, closed her eyes as she tried to contain the rising tension of the room. She felt the heat in the air on her pale face as she began to sweat. She was early.

As time stopped, The Superior One entered with a look of concern on his face and an envelope, out of which thick papers stuck out, almost falling on the ground, as the tension in the room slowly fluctuated widely. She opened her eyes and saw a thick paper being handed to her by the examiner. It was the most awaited paper. The paper of the questions, the Exam Question Paper.

As she read the instructions on the question paper, fear invited anxiety, and it suddenly took away the floor below her feet, as she descended into a deep hole.

Her sweaty palms reached out for her weapons, and she quickly picked them up. She jumped as high as she could, whilst her heart calmed down and adrenaline rushed in. Her armour’s shine returned as her bright hazel eyes blended in with the heat of the atmosphere blazing with streaks of fire. She was surrounded by four Squads with a total of thirty Cues, each reminded her of the weakness that always made her fill up with regret and lose focus.

But she gripped her weapon tightly and wrote away whatever she knew. What she thought never mattered to anyone anyway, the ones who were superior knew her better, as they brainwashed her childhood friends and tricked them into becoming robots. They always insisted that she must get through the exams, the internals, and the assignments. That she needed them to grow into an ideal person, deemed to be fit only by them. As she drew, each of her numbers slowly lost their meaning, but she constantly remained thoughtless, going into a state of trance which others saw to be acidic. She answered each question like a mindless freak and became the first one to leave the room. She was the only one whose armour shined in the illusion.

She lived in a system that rewarded the students with intellectual superiority but failed to recognise their creativity within.

Posted by Shrey Padhi

Imagination is the strongest power of humankind. It carries us to a much distant world, some place unexplored, but without it, we progress nowhere.