Published: 06th August 2020
Dear kids in the Class of 2020, you are the bravest. Love, a worried mom
This account of the fear, worry and absolute disbelief that the mother of a 17-year-old had as her daughter went out into a pandemic-ridden world and wrote the KEAM exam
The nagging headache finally wore off on the evening of July 16 when the KEAM (Kerala Engineering Architectural Medical) Exam ended. Yes, I am a parent of a 17-year-old whose dream it is to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology. To be specific, a mom of a child who wrote KEAM 2020, a mom who sent her child out into a high-risk environment with a straight face while fighting tears inside, amidst a pandemic, much against her will, but of course, "life must go on" said everyone around.
This experience, one I would not wish on an enemy, highlighted the difference between a mom and a dad. As dad was prepping for D-day, I was praying my heart out, even up until that morning, for the exam to be cancelled, postponed, anything. An online exam, 12th board exam results, anything except having to go out into that new world where "sambarkham" had become the word du jour.
I stocked up on gloves, masks, sanitiser, even a face-shield like every other mom I knew, all the while hoping they would cancel. I knew my child was concerned, saw group chats which clearly showed how his friends felt, spoke to other moms who felt as confused and helpless as I did and I felt I had failed as a mom. Failed to protect my child, failed by not voicing my opinion while those children looked for an adult to speak up for them.
All around us exams were being cancelled or postponed until further notice, BITSAT, JEE, CUSAT, VITEEE but our fearless, optimistic, selfless government insisted that KEAM would be conducted on schedule. I have never watched the 6 o'clock news as diligently as I have the week of July 16, fervently hoping against hope to hear of the cancellation. I read about the requests to cancel, heard from concerned moms and found most dads eager to get it over with before "things get worse”. The most painful part, however, was reading the chats with kids “joking” about the government's apathy and new hotspots popping up after the 16th, all the while hoping for the same thing that I was.
My fear and concern was even termed as self-centered because of all those people out there, the government, the volunteers, the healthcare workers, the invigilators, working tirelessly to make this happen. So many putting their lives and reputations at stake while I sat complaining, in the comfort of my home, being just a selfish mom.
Was it genuine concern or an attempt to save face with a new "Kerala Model" we'll never know. I realize it will be quite a long wait before the numerous questions in my mind will be answered. Until then and always I hope and pray for peaceful outcomes.
And to the class of 2020, you are the bravest.
The author is the mother of an engineering aspirant who wishes to stay anonymous