It's amazing how such elementary letters assume such mammoth proportions when seen in a particular context. Here in my college, love them or hate them but you simply can't get them out of your system and so even after four and a half years of Cs and B negs, peppered with a dash of D here and a B or an A there (hard to believe but true!), these letters and the power they seem to hold on us still continue to amaze me. As hard as I might try to convince myself that I am a member of the "yeh sab moh maya hai" club yet at the end of the semester, a missed B neg still hurts albeit only for a moment and a surprise A neg (only happened this sem) still manages to bring a smile and a spring in my step.
Cs and B negs being the most prominently featuring grades in my grade sheet demand that I start with them. When you are a six pointer like me, it's mostly because you got a C where your batchmate, who was doing just as well before the majors, ended up getting a B neg by virtue of cracking the majors; which sadly is a thing I have never managed to accomplish. Occasionally when you do get a B neg, it turns out that the course was way too easy for the others who end up getting a B. A C, therefore turns out to be the most significant grade in the scheme of things for those who lie in the 6 to 7.5 range who in turn form the majority of the population, becoming the habit for the lower half and an aberration for the later. At first when at the end of the semester I found myself in this peculiar predicament where I ended up getting a C when I knew I could easily have got a B neg, it used to upset me a lot and I ended up cursing the system, but nine semesters and several courses later, the sting is almost negligible and the system is no longer blamed mostly because as the semesters go by you tend to care less and less about the grades and partly because in the overall picture, things even out and you do get some Bs and B negs even when you don't deserve them.
Then there is the A family comprising of two members, A and A neg. Now, according to me there are three types of people who get these grades. The first ones are the stereotypical maggus, the boring kind who grind their way to an A and make life tough for everyone. The second are the studs, the ones who don't seem to do much work but somehow manage to get the maximum marks in the class. There's nothing much you can do about both these types although you tend to hate the first ones more and forgive the geniuses amongst us by praying to the almighty "Forgive them, O Lord for they know not what they are doing". Finally there is the third and the most interesting species of which I am a proud member. These species have a peculiarity which makes them outshine the others in a particular field whereas they continue to lower the class average in other more important courses. So you have new terms being coined like the Hukka Stud, MA Stud or the Lab Phodu and so on. From personal experience I must confess it's an unique feeling just for once to be the best in the class, to feel what the nine or even an eight pointer feels day in day out, course after course. So when I got my first A in a Humanity course and followed it up with another in the next semester, I instantly became the Hukka Stud and even after a few A negs and an "aberration" the tag still persists. But then again the toppers probably feel differently because for them it's the way of life and not something meant to be celebrated or get excited about. Who knows.
And so finally we come to D, the most important of all grades. People who get it tread the very thin line between pass and fail. The relief and happiness associated with D is something you have got to feel to know anything about it. So when at 29.6 the Prof gives you an E (which by the way happens to be the first in you otherwise unblemished carrer) which is followed by 15 minutes of pleading with complete disregard to self esteem, the ground beneath your feet seems to have vanished. And then when you play your last card and say "Sir, 29.6 rounded off is 30..." and the Prof waits for 5 seconds which seem like eternity and says "OK, I will give you a D"; the elation is unparalleled, the relief unprecedented, it's more than any A could ever give you.
The real value of a D however is realised only when your very degree is at stake. I have been witness to two such cases and watching their fortunes swing, from close quarters made me realise the power D could have on our lives. So a D in a PH course paved the way for a PhD for someone last semester and only a few days back when I rang up one of my dear friends from in front of the Prof's room who was teaching the one course on which his degree hung and said "Dost, tera Dikka lag gaya...." the voice at the other end almost cracked out of a mix of relief and ecstasy for no one would ever have been happier on getting a D, in fact no one would have ever experienced the kind of joy D brought to my friend by even getting an A in a course; for it heralded the end of more than a mere course. He had finally earned his B.Tech degree from IIT Delhi, he was finally an engineer, the thing he had set out to become four and a half years earlier and it is, I hope the begining of a new phase in his life. To him this blog is dedicated. Congratulations my friend.