A tale of woe, about the trials and tribulations faced by our unlikely hero, Scooby as he prepares for one of his bi-annual semester exam. It takes us through an emotional journey that repeats itself in exact fashion every time right before the examination.
NOTE: A tale of sheer fiction, mind you, and any resemblance to any character, living or dead, is a sheer co-incidence and the author shall not be responsible for or encourage any legal lawsuits or a parental backlash.
Scooby Dooby-doo: our protagonist.
Examinations: Chief antagonist.
Mr. and Mrs. Dooby-doo: the parents of our valiant hero.
C, H, A, O, S: College pals of Scooby.
Special appearance by Billy Shakespeare.
Act I Scene I
We are in Scooby’s room. The clock on the wall declaring that it is noon. The curtains are drawn, the buzz of the overhead fan the most distinctive noise. Sprawled on the bed is Scooby, earphones plugged in. His frizzy hair and droopy eyes indicating that he has not long been awake. The door crashes open and enter Scooby’s mother.
Mrs. Dooby-doo: “Wake up lazy bones! It’s almost lunchtime. How you sleep, are you on drugs? GET UP!”
Scooby plucks the earphones out and stares groggily up at her. “Hmm?”,vaguely he says.
Mrs. Dooby-doo: “Up! Aren’t your exams coming up in a month? Where are your books?”
She takes up a duster and starts whipping at the study table, looking around for the books that are supposed to be there. Instead all she finds is the laptop, some crumpled up and empty Cadbury gems packets, and a cloud of dust. None of it seems to please her.
Mrs.Dooby-doo: “You still haven’t bought any books have you?” incredulous, she asks.
Long experience had taught Scooby not to answer the question. The silence is usually self-explanatory. And sure enough, three whips of the duster and a trail of dust clouds later, came the all too familiar,
“Wait till I tell your father. How can you not have books with the exam looming over. Wasting your father’s money. If you fail this time, I’m cutting off all your allowances. Now get up! When will you go buy books? Take money and go today. Don’t while away time like this.”
Twenty years and he still manages to surprise the woman with his lack of interest. Some things, you just don’t get used to. An underachieving, average joe son is one of them. Groggily, he got up and walked out of the room. Mrs. Dooby-doo, pleased with herself for a good morning’s work goes back to waging war on the dust.
Plonking himself on the sofa in another room, Scooby plugged in his earphones and went back to his favorite task, lazing the day away. But peace was temporary. Having eliminated all traces of dust from Scooby’s room, a task worthy of the highest national honour in the land, she moved on to the next battlefront, and as chance would have it, her path of war took her to the sitting room, where an unsuspecting Scooby lay licking the fresh wounds of the previous conflict.
“YOU’RE STILL LYING AROUND! HOW USELESS CAN YOU BE? GET UP! NOW! INSTEAD OF STUDYING LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, YOU WHILE AWAY YOUR TIME AND THEN YOU EXPECT TO GET GOOD MARKS? I’M TELLING YOU, IF YOU DON’T DO WELL THIS TIME, ALL YOUR GOING OUTS, NIGHTSTAYS, LAPTOP, MOBILE, EVERYTHING IS BANNED.” Her sweet voice echoed around the room. Scooby had read somewhere about the devastating effect to the ears that mortar shells had on the soldiers in the war. Now he knew what they felt like. Empathy he had in plenty, some sympathy is what he craved right then. The day had not started on the pretty note at all.
“Go, take a shower and eat. Tomorrow I want to see the books and you better start studying.”
A heavy nod and silence were the best resort to moments like these. Gives the enemy very little to continue with their rants. They get flustered. And sure enough not another word was exchanged. A shower and a meal later, Scooby knew that he was on borrowed time. Tomorrow he’ll have to go book hunting. He looked out at the glaring sunlight and shuddered.
Act I Scene II
We are in Mr. and Mrs. Dooby-doo’s room. Having been told of his son’s incompetence for fifth time that evening since coming home, Mr. Dooby-doo calls on Scooby.
Mr.Dooby-doo: “So your exams are next month and you still don’t have books? What are you doing? Can’t you take this a little seriously? We’re not expecting you to be a topper but atleast you could put in some effort.”
Not a man of many words, Scooby nodded glumly. This speech, Scooby had heard on a monthly basis, ever since education assumed a role in his life. If this were a magic trick, this would have been when he’d have pulled out a piece of paper from a sealed envelope with a mighty “ABRACADABRA!” and watch as the audience gasp into fits of shock and applause as the writing on the paper would be the exact same as the words just uttered by the volunteer, in this case, Mr.Dooby-doo. However, wisely, he said no more, and turned to leave the room. Mentally, Scooby recited, “Tomorrow, go buy the books, I’ll leave the money in your wallet. It doesn’t matter matter if you pass or fail as long as you put in the effort.”
As he reached the door, Mr.Doo said: “Tomorrow, go buy the books, I’ll leave the money in your wallet. It doesn’t matter if you pass or fail as long as you put in the effort.”
Act I Scene III
A sweaty and tired Scooby returns from a round of book hunting. A bulging bag of thick, incomprehensive books combined with the powers of the scorching sun have the most depressing effect on most human souls. Scooby is no exception. He reaches home and rings the bell.
Mrs. Dooby-doo: “You bought the books? You look tired, is it hot outside?” A perfect example of the pointless questions people ask just to make inroads into striking a conversation. A sarcastic remark, though apt, usually puts an end to all conversations in the immediate future, hence, it’s best to answer them with a nod and a sigh, which bears the same significance as the statement “I’m letting you off the hook here.”
“Wait, I’ll make you something cold. Go sit in the bedroom, the air conditioner is on, you’ll feel better.”
Scooby dumped the bag by the door and entered the chilly confines of the bedroom. The sudden and drastic change in temperature was stingy. It must be what Leonardo Di Caprio felt like, while blobbing around in the freezing Atlantic Ocean while Kate Winslet refused to scooch over the wooden plank to make some space.
Soon Mrs. Dooby-doo arrives with a cold glass of lassi. A shower later, all is good about Scooby’s world again. And just when he decides to take a quick snooze in the comforts of the cold room, comes the dreaded question,
“So when will you start studying?”
“Tonight. I’ll start. Don’t worry.” Tonight seems so far when you have a nice few hours of sleep to contend with first. With that assurance, he closed his eyes and bid toodle-dee-dum to the world and its troubles.
Act I Scene IV
Later in the evening.
“Get up! Its eight in the evening. Enough sleeping. Now you have your new books, go open them.”
It felt like an ambush to Scooby, they just lie in wait to strike unawares. “Oh, all right!” he mumbled and got up. In a while, he was in his room, door shut and back to dreamland, picking up where he left off.
He woke up late in the night. All was still around him. Parents asleep. He saw the bag of books lying on the floor, still to be taken out of their plastic packets. They lay ignored, as he walked past, booted up the laptop and messed around on the internet and played games. At around six in the morning, tired from all the rounds of FIFA played and won, he settled into bed for another round of sleep. Rip Van Winkle must have been proud of him.
“Get UP! It’s almost noon. You’re still sleeping?” Deja-vu, as Mrs.Dooby-doo’s voice filled the room.
“I was up late studying Ma! Let me be!” The Gods of the Underworld, smiled upon Scooby. Here lay a true prodigy.
“As if you expect me to believe that.”, but the tone was softer. Scooby had instilled the seed of doubt in there.
“Food is on the table. Eat it.” and she left. The war was won. The Trojan Horse had found its way into Troy. Scooby felt no remorse, nor any sense of urgency. The exam was a month away. All his life, he had done relatively well for himself studying the night before the exams and clearing them. He prided himself with that ability. “Anything I study now, I shall forget in a month’s time anyway”, was the code he lived by. Pulling at the pillows, he flipped over to renew his battles with Dobby and his army of pixies.
Act II Scene I
Three weeks later. Scooby had continued his trend of getting away with studying nothing on the pretext of late night inspirations. But with the exams a week away, some of his confidence in last minute study had started to ebb away. The clock showed two a.m. with Scooby contemplating giving studies a go.
“Alright, lets shut off the laptop and put in some hours of study. Heck I’ll get better marks, plus it will relieve the last minute stress.” He thought to himself. Turing around, he saw the bag lying on the shelf. The books inside it, still untouched.
Hesitantly, he got up crossed the room, picked up the bag and pulled out one particularly heavy volume. Bemused, he flipped through it, past the myriad of complex equations and formulas, it all seemed like a language that did not belong to earth. He thrust the book onto the bed with a heavy thud and opened up the first page and pored over the contents. To him, it looked like, Chapter one- Gloom, Chapter two- Doom!
He flipped over to the first page of the new chapter and started reading. It was an Introductory chapter into the subject. Two pages in, it was all making sense. “This is all basic stuff. Pretty easy, No point getting all worried about it” he thought gleefully. Another page was covered in a matter of seconds, and tired from the effort of reading up all of three pages in one night, a feat that surely deserved gallantry awards of the highest order, he decided to take a well earned rest.
He woke up nine hours later, refreshed but none the wiser.
Act II Scene II
The next day, we see a more firm and determined Scooby at work.
That day, was the day of reckoning. It’s like the moment before God decided to create the universe. Scooby decided, enough was enough. It was time to get serious. Plans were drawn out. The day shall be spent studying, he decided, with a firmness in his mental voice reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous “I’ll be back!” from Terminator.
Time tables drawn out, indicating the start of the new Education for Idiots campaign in exactly forty three minutes. There was still some time to enjoy himself before the hours of self imposed slave labour began. That time was wisely spent, lazing, and listening to songs and bits and snippets of whatever was on TV. It’s like Noah savouring the world before God unleashes the dam’s of hell upon Earth.
Seconds turned to minutes and minutes turned to hours. And still the new revolution had not begun. “I’ll catch up, by cutting down on the break times I’ve allotted for myself” Scooby justified. He could excuse himself out of hell itself if the need ever arose.
Before he knew it, it was again the pitch black of the night with no progress on the study front as Scooby sat with an open laptop, doodling away to glory. “What the heck! Why bother with these petty and utterly useless plans. I’m smart, I’ll manage something later. Lets have fun now.” In the battle of good versus evil, good hadn’t even shown up for the fight. Reports suggest, rising airfare or degradation of social values are to blame, no one is sure which.
And thus passed the next six days, in ignorant joy.
Act II Scene III
The fan whips some air into the otherwise stuffy room. It’s deep into the night, of another hot summer day. On the sofa of the sitting room is perched Scooby. A book in his lap. Reading frantically. Exams begin from the following morning, and Scooby is upto his last minute revisions, where he studies the chapters for the first and last time.
“…. Language variables….write a program to……difference between….. I wish I could see How To Train Your Dragon, can’t believe I haven’t yet….. equations of… I wonder if there’s anything in the fridge….curves and graphs….Chapter 2 done… A five minute break maybe? NO!.. I’ll have to revise this and move on.. fifteen chapters left….. string to find….. user defined….. function definition……oh c’mon a teensy break wouldn’t hurt… not yet!....... who invented the…. Man this guy looks bored…. All he did in his life was study and invent this crap…. Sum of product form…Heck I think, I’ll be a backpacker, and travel the world, why study all this?... yup.. definitely.. lets take a break then…”
One and a half chapters in, Scooby, drops the book to the floor with a heavy thud, stretches out, yawns and heads to find some food, his mind buzzing. A bar of chocolate and about a litre of water later, he returns, looks remorsefully at the book on the floor, picks up the cricket bat behind the door and continues to shadow practice with it, his mind working overtime.
“So it’s only one a.m. now, I can put in seven more hours of study. If I do a chapter in an hour, that’s seven plus the two I’ve completed, so nine in all.. Not bad! I’ll have enough to pass. This is too easy then. Might as well, get five minutes of shut-eye to be all geared up for the study marathon to follow. Yep, definitely a good idea. What can possibly go wrong there?”
Waking up three hours later, he realized the flaw in his plan.
“Alright, relax. Still four hours. Enough time for damage control, plus I can put in a chapter while travelling to college. Lets go for it. Might as well get a bite to eat first, that will cut down on distractions.” He returned fifteen minutes later, with a biscuit packet in hand, took up the book and continued to finish off chapter two, that he had left incomplete. Thirty minutes in, that was done.
“Phew! That was exhaustive. But two chapters done. A couple more and I’ll have enough to pass. But I can’t concentrate now after all that effort. Might as well take a five minute break before continuing.”
Maybe it was guilt, or maybe it was a pesky crow, cawing by the window, but when Scooby next woke up, the sky had started to lighten, the clock said it was ten minutes to six. He jumped up on the sofa, horrified at his own laziness. Heart pounding, he grabbed at the book.
Five minutes later, he realized that nothing was registering in his mind. He was numbed, head heavy, a sense of hopelessness. “How had it come down to this?” he wondered. A pointless and self explanatory question that one asks despite knowing the answer to, in the frantic hope of finding someone or something to pin the entire blame on, who looks nothing like the person in the mirror.
Five more minutes of pointlessly turning the pages as if hoping the mind was clicking pictures while he went, he gave up hope. Kept the book down, turned off the light and went off to sleep. This time, not for the usual “five minutes” but for what Scooby hoped, would be eternity, or until the apocalypse.
Act II Scene IV
The dining room on the examination morning. Mrs.Dooby-doo, moving in and out of the kitchen. Scooby sitting glumly at the table, bread and eggs before him.
Breakfast on examination mornings is usually always a drab affair in the Dooby-doo family. Scooby sitting at one end of the table, gloomy, shoulders hunched, sleep deprived, cranky, munching on a piece of toast for minutes upon minutes till it tastes like leather.
Mrs.Dooby-doo, reading the obvious signs, refrains from asking too many questions. Whether this is for Scooby’s benefit or just her way of sparing herself the horror of the reply, that is yet to be known, but the sentiment was appreciated. Without a word exchanged, Scooby gets ready for college, where the grim reaper lies in wait, sharpening his sickle. On the way out, Mrs.Dooby-doo, uses the language of our brave and heroic ancestors, the cave men, to determine the level of damage. The head is nodded slightly upwards, with the chin at an angle of twenty five degrees at the most, this in words implies, “What’s the status?” To which the answer usually is with a slight sideways nod that completes the whole cycle of left to right exactly twice with a downwardly curved twitch of the lips, which is loosely translated to, “I am screwed!”. A roll of the eyes on Mrs. Dooby-doo’s part is indicative of “Message received”.
Thus ensues a conversation that renders the smartest of military code makers dumbfounded. They should appoint the spy’s mother as their handlers in the force, that way you can pass whatever message you want without fear of it being intercepted. Though spies are not very appreciative of the fact that their mission briefing comes with a post script that says, “Eat well, take a bath daily, call me every night, and go to sleep by 12.”
Following this, comes the reckoning with God. Mrs.Dooby-doo hands Scooby all kinds of flowers and the teensiest pieces of sweets and asks him to fold his hands and pray. It’s hard when you imagine the God’s gathering up in heaven, popcorn and pepsi in hand for the premiere of, “The Kid who got Screwed, Part 67” and unlike most sequels, it keeps getting better every time.
That done, Scooby, plants in his earphones, closes the front door and heads out to his doom.
Act III Scene I
The scene shifts to the college campus, with Scooby sitting on the stairs with his fellow sufferers, moments before the examination.
C: “Did you read question seven from the two thousand six papers? I hear that’s important.”
H: “Yeah, that and question five from the same paper. I hope I pass.”
A: “Serial Bus Controller, I’m sure that definition would come. I only want fifteen marks, somehow, please.”
O: “You sure? OH MY GOD! I don’t know that! Please tell me, fast. And C, write up the MCQ’s on the bathroom wall or door. Otherwise I’ll fail.”
S: “I haven’t studied a thing, how will I pass.? Do you know, I left out the whole of the last chapter?”
Scooby sat there, with a feeling of exhaustion, confusion and utter disdain. All this made no sense. Heck, it seemed like he had turned up for a whole different paper as compared to the others. Some around him, were in the same state, staring blankly, trying to translate all that was being said around them into the language of mere mortals, some were desperately finding free space in their hands to pen down all the important information being passed around, chits were made, a system was formulated to signal answers across rooms. The Koreans and some other nations have compulsory military training for its nationals. We Indians don’t need that. Our education system equips us with all the tools to survive a war. Improvisation is just another name for desperation.
It made perfect sense to Scooby that he was indeed, in every sense of the word, screwed! Too tired to care, his languid manner could almost be mistaken for sheer boredom. The bell rang, a last round of desperate trivia was exchanged, followed by the best of luck wishes. At this point, it’s more like, “ I’ll see you on the other side, soldier. Godspeed!”
Everyone headed off to their respective classroom to see what fate awaited them.
Act III Scene II
Two hours into the examination.
He twirled his pen in his hand, hoping the answers appear on the paper by magic. Two hours in and he had hardly answered much. Whatever he had known, or remembered from last night’s efforts, he had written, irrespective of the fact whether the question asked for it or not. The MCQ’s thankfully, had appeared on the bathroom door, and thanking the unknown messiah, he had jotted them down. “Now what?”
If this were school, this was where he’d start drawing cartoons and funny faces. The teacher would later show it up to the rest of the class hoping to put the infiltrator of the wild arts to shame but contrary to that, you end up being the hero for the day. The messiah of freak humour who rises up against the educational system with the weapons of smiley faces. However, such acts when done in college exams only make you look utterly dumb and the person to check the paper would likely put in a recommendation to put you into a correctional facility, right next to the big zero.
Devoid of ideas, he looked around, hoping to catch snippets of answers now and there. He was greeted with a sea of blank faces, who, like himself, could only look around for information. The one’s that withheld such information, usually had their noses so deep into the paper, that short of pulling them by their hairs and snatching their papers, there was no means to extract any.
With a sigh, he looked down upon his three pages of flimsy answers, wondering where and on what he could sneak out a mark here and there to reach the magical pass figure. Optimistic as he was, he realized that there was really not much to hope for. There is however a ploy, widely used in these examination circles, when devoid of ideas. It’s to fill up sheets upon sheets of the answer booklet by writing utter rubbish, and hoping the examiner, pleased with the effort, would gift marks aplenty without going through what was written. It’s a risqué technique but in situations like these, with not much to lose, it could be chanced. And thus, turning over the page, he wrote out the heading.
Scooby’s Laws of Electromagnetism
It looked nice, sitting there. With a heavy breath, he proceeded. By the end of the hour, he had seven laws, all with its own postulates, mathematical proofs and graphs to go with it. Not to mention that the whole thing spanned ten whole pages, adding the much needed volume to his answer booklet. It was beautiful. Feeling that he had done something that was truly worthy of the Nobel Prize, he handed over the booklet to the examiner and left the room, covered in a sense of glory and immense achievement.
A: “How was it?”
Scooby: “I dunno, I might pass. Wrote a lot though.”
C: “You wrote a lot? Wow! I had nothing to write. I only attempted sixty. Had to leave out ten marks.”
Scooby: “Ah! I pity you.”
H: “I answered the extra questions too, just in case, I don’t think I’ll pass though.”
S: “Yeah right. You’ll top the exam, I’ll fail for sure. Next year again.”
Thus having determined that everyone in class was getting lesser marks than the others, they left for home. The next exam was in three days. “Enough time”, thought Scooby as he chose to rest on his laurels and spend the rest of the day catching up on lost sleep. Two nights from then, the same pattern repeated itself as was witnessed before the first exam. This continued for the rest of the two weeks, spanning six papers, and finally a hard fought freedom was won.
And they were all happy as hell.
Act III Scene III
Three months later, one fine evening.
*sms tone* “Results are out!”
Scooby wasn’t at home. The last three months were spent in carefree joy, as devoid of the shackles of examinations everyone decided to take life head on and squeeze some fun out of it. All thoughts of the exam and its results were forgotten. And now the stark reality, that had the potential to render you homeless, depending on how strict your parents are, had arrived. Not that he was too concerned. Results hardly ever affected him. He had been immune to failure ever since his class eleven results started coming out. Neither did he let success get to his head, like that time………uhm……well….eh……oh yeah, the time he won the math race at school sports in class three. Still, he had a sense of optimism about this time. Maybe, he’d just make it. And with that comforting thought he spent the rest of the day in relative joy.
*sms tone* “how much?”
Scooby: “I haven’t checked yet. You?”
*sms tone* “okay.8 point. Don’t know how.”
Scooby: “Wow! Treat o’clock huh?”
*sms tone* “Go away! Check yours.”
This was the common theme for the evening. Tales of achievement and “incredulous on the outside, satisfied on the inside” joy. All pretty amusing really. So it was with some curiosity that he checked into the result site that evening, with hope bordering on disbelief.
The screen flashed open and there it was. Name-Scooby Dooby-doo, below that the roll number and right below that, an expansive mark sheet. His eyes strayed to the right hand side column under the word passed, was a tiny little “X”. Looking over, he realized, “Scooby’s Laws of Electromagnetism” had failed him.
With a heavy sigh, he closed the browser, and stared blankly at the wallpaper for a while. With a sense of melancholia he opened up a word document and sat out to write a tale. A tale of woe.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
-As You Like It by William Shakespeare.