Pens and pencils scrape haltingly

Across a sheet of foolscap

Erasers furiously rubbing against some mistake,

Students sighing, moaning and groaning

Some eagerly awaiting the period to end

Some frantically hoping that a few

Extra minutes will magically appear on the clock;

Among thos who have completed their work

Are doodlers and scribblers, like I,

Making ridiculous etchings and meaningless sentences,

Idly drawing loops, or writing poetry

Or perhaps, creating great works of art

From the dismal scenery beyond the windowsill

Or from the apathetic expressions of those around them,

Or perhaps, from the stony faces of the invigilators

Those tireless souls who trudge up and down the aisles,

Asking for spare paper, hoping to catch a glimpse

Of a foolish cheater,

Someone who will enliven their otherwise dull experience

In these quiet, but never serene, never still

Examination halls.


The fans whirr on, the cars outside slide across

Rain-soaked streets;

The teachers' shoes shuffle rhythmically across the granite floor,

And all around, pens click, pencil boxes open and shut,

Papers ruffle, the wall clocks tick on

And then, suddenly, "Pens down!"

And the hall bursts into a flurry of activity

Girls and boys alike turn and ask how the others fared,

The teacher calls for silence and threatens

Not to allow noisy students to leave

Some mutter curses, some desperately try to finish up

As the teachers go around collecting the papers

One by one the students leave

And soon,

The examination hall

Is darkened, quietened and still once more.