In Afrikaans the saying goes “Probeer is die beste geweer”, literally trying is the best ammunition or more eloquent persevere even in the face of adversity. Bafana bafana did just that. My story has a happier ending, though.
It was my first level of BA Communication Studies at Unisa. The subject was Art Today, a part of art history. Although I felt quite comfortable with the material, there was a slight hesitation when entering the hall. This sprout from the study letter that said there would be two questions in the exam. In my mind two questions would, obviously, be divided in to small parts. How could an entire paper consist of only two questions? Silly, really!
I took my seat... well being a wheelchair user, I ALWAYS have a seat, but let's not get technical... and started filling out the compulsary parts for the benefit of the admin staff at Unisa. The time was upon me to open my paper and there it was. Two questions. Yes. Only two questions. Not subdivided. Not little bite-sized nuggets of brilliance. Two questions. Two questions divided the entire exam for me. By answering these two questions, I would add to the 6% I already had for completing my assignments.
The first questions asked me to analyze an advert that I chose, presumably, before the exam. That puzzled me. From experience I knew that you weren't allowed to take any documents with you, lest they be seen as crip-notes. As a responsible student I called one of the officials and asked if the other students writing this exam had notes with them. Not that it mattered, though. The answer made me grin. I was the only one writing that subject that day. Nice.
I cannot remember the other question, but after finishing reading it, utter sense of defeat overwhelmed me. Here I was, a whole semester spent on this subject, assignments complete, so close to finishing my first level of this qualification and for the life of me I could not see how I could rake together even half of the points needed! I should, leave, I thought. You can't though, I answered myself. In a Unisa exam you may not leave within the first hour, barring some extreme medical emergency, but maybe not even that could get you free. How draconic! Damn you Unisa! Damn you!
What could I do? Stare at the other students? Maybe. I did not. With pen in hand, I began the hour that reeked of futility. With doubts nibbling at any positive fact I might have had, I forged ahead, bravely putting together word after word, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph. My first and only draft of the first question complete. One whole, hand-written page. Gosh! That would never be enough!
Starting in the middle of the answering book, I wrote another page for the second question. A reasonable man would not foresee the necessary points appear out of two pages. Half the points needed might not be squeezed out of two hastily writ pulped wood sheets.
It was with a heavy mood that I waited outside for my lift home. You see it was the previous day after writing the other subject that my car broke down. Luckily only just out of the parking and not in heavy traffic or another highly populated area. Here I contemplated what other subject I might take instead. Plan B, if you would.
With anticipation I logged on to the Unisa website a few weeks later and saw I had passed two of the three subject I had left for the first level. The mark for Art History was still not processed. I was two days early, so I left it at that. With a whole day of maintenance between, I may as well just relax and wait for the final result.
Having no expectation at all, I logged on again on the day the results were sent out to snail mail receivers. I saw the tab for the subject missing. That either meant I failed it or I passed it. No other indicators present. On to the final results page.
I closed my eyes. I clicked. Subject 1 : pass. Subject 2 : pass. Art History . . . PASS!!! Glory me, oh happy day!! I passed that two question torture hour! YAY!
A certain Rolling Stone said jaggedly that you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime you might just find that you get what you need. One hour later and a happy ending was born.
When next your are in a sticky situation that seems futile, think about spending at least another hour on it. You may lose sixty minutes, but you just may get a result you have not anticipated. You just may!