The day started off really early. I woke up at 6:00 am, which isn’t usual, and as soon as I woke up, I could feel something tingling inside me. I wasn’t alright and my heart was racing. Damn! I was nervous and I was arrested in thoughts and went on to the extent of imagining how the examiner would look like.
With such mixed feelings embedded deep inside me, I finally got ready and sat to revise for the last one hour. I got my books and went on to the room. Slogged for a bit but I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome as I was really nervous and couldn’t actually concentrate on studies. I knew I was dumping knowledge into a bin, which was already so full, but giving the real practical for the first time and that too conducted by CBSE made me more nervous.
With a little concentration and more of stress, I packed my bag and started to get ready for school. My practical was scheduled for 11:15 am and the time I decided to actually get ready was at about 10:45 am. What the heck? I am always used to going late to schools but I didn’t want this for one last time in my life. But by the grace of god, I got late again!
I ran and ran as if a dog was chasing me. Nothing scared me as the biggest horror was waiting for me in school. Finally, reached school and it was already 11:20 am.
“God! Why do you always make me so late”, that’s what I said to myself even though god had nothing to do with me coming late to school.
The lab was contrastingly clean with new burettes, test tubes and other things. The examiner was busy writing down the experiments to be performed on the black board.
I kept my calm saying to myself “All is well” (by the way, this doesn’t work for CBSE guys :P). Nothing worked and I walked slowly towards the place allocated to me. I could see tense faces reciting “Salt + blah blah, white ppt, something confirmed” and some really pretending to be chilled out whereas their legs were spilling the truth with every shiver they made.
Everything was settled and I was getting back to my senses. By the time, the examiner was finished with his work and came near the demonstration table to give a speech (quite unusual). He told us about the search for truth and lab being a work station.
With the end of his speech, I was sure that this guy was way too particular about things and I am gonna get screwed. With this my heart started racing back again.
I waited for students to copy the experiments’ aim as my place was far from the board and we were told to wait before some students could copy the stuff on the board. By the time, I was there; I could hardly see two to three students copying things.
May be I was lucky to get to be late there but whatever it was, it totally vanished my nervousness. I was noting the contents from the board when the examiner started to take leave from the lab to see the school. While leaving I heard him saying “Functional group karvaana inse, zaroor karvaana, magar nahin aata toh dekh lena”.
Who said board practicals are bad :P, I was on cloud nine after listening that and just went on to perform the usual activities like I did for the school practicals.
We were to perform the functional group analysis first and this was termed to be easiest part. As soon as I touched the test tube containing the organic compound, I overheard a student saying “A, carboxylic acid hain”. I quickly recalled all the tests for carboxylic acid and wrote in the answer sheet (By the way, I got sample A as well).
The next part was titration. The biggest problem of weighing was taken out and we were really happy as we were supposed to perform only the basic titration activity and calculate molarity (not even strength). This went off well with the teacher announcing in the class that the weight of oxalic acid should come as 0.63g. This part went off well as well.
The next part which was the real problem for me as well as many was Salt analysis. People do called it with other deadly names like Semi-micro analysis, etc but at the end of the day it was TOUGH for me.
As soon as I got the salt, I sniffed as if some cocaine was given to me (This was to check if some smell of ammonia or acetic acid was there or not) but it had no smell. Tension started creeping up inside me all again. I could only do the test for first two groups confidently, even though the rest were in my mind but were really hard to extract at that moment of terror. I did every test possible, but all went against me and I couldn’t zero in on a single salt.
I was a wandering soul asking all those reciting maggus who do salt analysis even in their dreams. Everyone kicked me and some even went on the verge of misleading me just to get some momentary pleasure.
Finally, the last fifteen minutes and still there were no signs of me completing it. I walked slowly with my head fell deep, with a sense of defeat holding a white ppt, which I felt every second salt in this world gave.
As I reached near the window, I saw my lab assistant having his cup of tea and enjoying the bright sunlight. He saw my pale face and asked me what happened. I narrated him the entire story and from the little bits of information I gave about the tests, he just said “BaCl2 hai……Hamare lab mein yahin salt hai barium ka“. I was dumbstruck as if a lightning fell on me. The same lab assistant who never left a reason to scold us helped me in the moment that mattered the most! I thanked him and quickly dragged my neighbouring maggu who was busy packing his lab coat on to my place and got the test for Chloride dictated, I knew it for Barium (pretty odd as many might feel because Chloride is by far the easiest one but still).
5 minutes was what it was needed to finish the salt analysis. And I quickly went on to my chemistry teacher to submit my answer sheet. She saw a gleaming face and politely said “Kya baat hai? Lagtha hai aaj bada achcha exam gaya hai”. And I even more politely replied to her and gave a small viva which felt just as a formalty.
Back to my desk, I packed up my lab coat. While leaving I hugged my lab assistant as everyone saw me with surprise as If I smooched him. I thanked the maggu beside me and promised him a paneer roll treat!