The first semester of the MBA class was relatively easy to compete, given that I had already covered the introduction to management in my undergrad days. It was the second semester that was to present the major hiccup – in the form of Financial Management – an advanced form of accounting.
Barely had we stepped into the second semester that the seniors started warning us about the subject. “Start preparing for it from now onwards”, advised a studious senior. “Is Wagh teaching you the subject? God knows how will you guys pass FM”, wondered another senior.
And although many of our nightmares circled around Financial Management or FM, hardly any of us studied the subject until a month before the second semester exams. There was the famous Pune Ganpati festival to attend. A lot many hit movies were released just in time. Just before Durga Puja, I started to feel the itch to return home. Good times fly fast – so did the time available with us to prepare for the exams and FM.
Ms. Wagh was true to the expectations of the senior. She spent most of the time teaching us the basics and rummaged through the important syllabus in the last few weeks.
A few seniors, specialising in finance, did attempt to help, but they too were busy with placements.
As the exams neared, we knew we were doomed, at least in one paper.
“Yaar tera kya hoga. First sem mey rank holder aur second sem me ATKT“, said my roommate P.
He was in no better situation either. At least I had a commerce degree and could dabble in accounts with a debit-credit. He being a science graduate had no such luxury; however he already had an ATKT from the last term and was a little experienced thus.
(I don’t remember the full form of ATKT. It meant keep trying in the next term)
Financial Management or FM was the centre of attraction of all talks – in the cafetaria amidst abuses for the lady teacher, in the library in hushed tones, between classes, and then late into the night between glasses of beer.
In one such discussion, where I was not a party, a boasting bihari (I hate biharis for this trait) suggested that he can bring the leaked paper from Singhad Institute (allegedly where MBA papers for Pune University are set) and they can prepare the questions.
The group instantly agreed. So did P who was part of the discussion. He also agreed to convince me to be a party to the plan.
But I didn’t. I was aghast at the suggestion.
“I am not that desperate to pass yaar. I have never done such a thing. I can never do such a thing”, I said.
“You haven’t ever got an ATKT too. But you will get one this time”, P challenged.
“Whatever. I am not going to do such a thing.”
“Think again. You still have time”, he barged out of the room saying.
Not that I am quite a moralist. Only that I couldn’t have imagined doing such a gory act and equated it with stealing (for whatever noble reason it might be). What if the police comes to know of this? Also if father would have known that I passed my MBA in this manner, he would have killed me. What’s more, I didn’t have that much of a money to spend at that time.
Yes, it was a lot of money by past standards – Rs 800 – which was subject to change if the partners in the crime decreased. To equate it by my expenses in those years, it was a one months food bill, two dresses, exam fees for two terms, to and fro railway ticket for home, and more.
So I decided to go for the exams without any illegitimate help, much to the annoyance of P, followed by a verbal battle and then no talks for a complete week until the exams ended.
Coming back to the leaked paper. Here were a few of the rules enlisted for those participating in the plan:
- The leaked paper would reach the students the night before the exams
- The participating students will spend this night in a room with no contact with any outside person
- Use of phones not allowed
- Each of them will have to give the money before hand
- The money will not be refundable
It was a secret plan, available to few other people including me; most of who had been offered a chance, but didn’t accept because of the fear of police and parents.
The D-day finally arrived. The night before the FM exam was spent studying. Tea was ready to drive away sleep. I had already solved the last five year question papers but the fear of FM was not leaving me. Finally, I set the alarm for 8 in the morning and went off for sleep – I badly needed one.
The alarm bell woke me from the worst ever nightmare.
I was at the feet of Ms. Wagh, pleading for an extra mark, while my father was whipping me badly in front of the entire public.
I woke up flustered from the terrible dream. Early morning dreams are believed to be true. Does that mean I will not be able to pass the exam? Was I wrong not to accept the offer?
Whatever! It’s very late now. Whatever is destined will happen. So I left for the examination hall.
At the exam gate, I met P. He quietly passed me a chit with the questions that were to come in the exam. I took the chit but knew it was very late.
P and his accomplices entered the exam hall some 10 minutes after the exam had begun. He knew it from the look on my face that the paper was very tough. However, this was not the only message I intended to communicate.
He understood this as soon as he went through the paper and banged his head on the desk with a loud ‘SHIT’.
The paper was entirely different from the one provided to P and group.
He remained in that state for the another ten minutes. Then he began to scribble things on his sheet and left the examination hall some 1 hour before the exam ended.
I was no better. The exam paper broke all past patterns and had taken a completely different and analytical style. One thing was for sure, very few would be passing FM this year like all years.
Outside the examination hall, everyone was talking about the super-tough FM paper. P was nowhere to be seen. I found him at the room, sleeping in the dark with his face covered. He was depressed and it would have been bad to make fun of him then.
But I did make fun of him. I forcibly took him for dinner and as soon as he calmed down a little, I started to make fun of him and his plan. He was furious on that bihari classmate of ours (the guy had mysteriously gone into hiding after the FM exams).
A month later, the exam results were declared. As expected P had an ATKT in FM and one more subject. I had a number less than the passing marks. 80 per cent of the class was with us.
Financial Management had once again bowled many MBA students.