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The ultimate question of life, the uni...

Somewhere around 10th grade we all enter this big examination hall. And get handed this blank sheet of paper with a single line printed on the top:
Do as directed: Discover yourself. Write an essay on it.
..and we spent the rest of our life trying to hit the moving target that makes "us" us - ever closing in but never quite there. Supplements get acquired, pages get filled up...

Some finish up fast, pack up and leave. Some fill-up the pages with multi-colored inks, highlighting the rungs that mattered most. Some staple onto the pages, souvenirs from their lives - coasters, used bandages, train tickets, the razor blade with which they cut themselves. Yet others keep filling up pages after pages and yet feel as if they haven't written anything of substance. Some end their essay with a one line summary like "To my friends: my work is done. Why wait?"

As the exam progresses, all kinds of patterns emerge. The ugliness of the rat race (who will come up with the  "best" story) - and the realization of the few not wanting to be in it. The quorum sensing of the like minded wreaking havoc on everyone who are trying to discover a "different himself/herself" that what these bullies approve of. Others peek into the sheets of their neighbors and start copying.

There are no rules to the examination. You are allowed to peek, relocate your desk, use whatever media to record your essay, heck you can even hand in a blank paper.

The intensity of this task of discovering yourself waxes and wanes through the examination. Its easy to lose sight of the task at hand when you are flanked by so many people around you. You get distracted, influenced, fall in love, fall out of love with them as you progress. Sometimes you feel like turning back a few pages and erasing some part of what you have already written so nobody can see it. Actually not nobody. But a particular somebody. You realize that even if you try to erase those parts, the written impressions will always remain. And there be a big void left between the pages there. Leaving you with regret as to why you even "tried" doing that. You flip back to the current page and document your vain effort in doing so, thus discovering a bit more of yourself in those moments.

On other days you feel like flipping back the pages and re-reading the stuff you have already written. As you do that, a few patterns emerge. Soon you develop a synesthesia - a filter for recognizing a particular set of events which have appeared again and again through out your writing. The pages appear like those previously classified and now released government documents with black patches of censoring - the uncensored part being the one you want to focus on. You string these paras together and realize that they all describe moments of heightened "self discovery". Involuntarily, you turn around to and simultaneously get poked by a pencil (haye current marti hai!) belonging to a particular s/he. A look of simultaneous similar realization is exchanged and a smile later, you both get back to work.

No matter how the remaining pages turn out, there was and will always be someone who will "read you like you".