I am so evil nowadays with all my long long posts! :D
And well I'm posting my MPH Young Writers Competition essay here because if I get shortlisted they'll post the essays on some website also, so I'll let you all read first lor. Very big "if" lar. See I'm so kind. And if there's some online competition thing like last year I expect you all to vote for me kay kay kay?! Muacks.
Oooo and I have a SCHOLARSHIP named after me. The Andrew Loh Scholarship for Analytical Chemistry awarded here. ROFLMAO! =)
MPH Essay: The Test (I know, very uncreative title, but what to do)
Andrew Loh Zhu An
Prompt: How is it that a few seconds can seem
like an eternity yet years can fly past without our realising it?
He counted fifteen items on his spacious
mahogany work desk, and frowned.
The clock chimed eight.
Mr. Tan was late, but he didn’t rush.
“Mr. Cheong.” He had barely entered the class when
he headed purposefully towards a specific occupant of the far side of the room,
who had chosen that particular seat so he could be as close as possible, to both
the windows overlooking the school field, and Jennifer.
“Your project, please.”
“I, um, don’t have it with me right now.”
“It’s not done yet. No time, sir.”
“Every single student in your class had time
except you,” Mr. Tan said, sternly and deliberately for the words to sink in. “What
makes you so special?”
For starters, I went out with Jennifer last
night, Kyle thought, and all the boys are jealous.
“Do you have anything to say in your defence, Kyle?”
“Uh, you were late too, sir.”
“You were late to class by six minutes, sir. So,
proportionately, a one day extension for a three week project should be, uh,
The class stifled their snickering somewhat
“Nice try, son, but it doesn’t work that way.”
Some sense of justice you have, thought Kyle.
“The truth is, sir, I, uh, didn’t bring my
project because it’s a joke I’m playing on you. April Fools!”
His attempt at exploiting the date fell flat
with most, but fortunately for Kyle, some classmates guffawed anyway. He
should’ve known better than to joke with a Physics teacher who couldn’t find
humour in ‘mho’ as the SI unit for conductance.
“I am not amused.”
“Aw, come on, sir, can’t you take a little
joke? I mean, what’s the difference between handing my project up today and
“Your grade, Kyle, that’s what.”
Mr. Tan turned away from Kyle to the whiteboard
to begin his lesson, satisfied with the enormity of his threat. Kyle sighed and
closed his eyes, as if deep in contemplation.
Kyle didn’t want to flunk Physics. He did all
right in all his other subjects, and even excelled in History, but the mother
of all science was his Achilles’ heel. The enigmatic equations and complex calculations
in his textbook could be mumbo-jumbo and hocus-pocus for all he cared. Stupid
subject, he thought.
It was a matter of habit for Kyle to stare at
the whiteboard with every ounce of concentration and still see little sense. Today
he amused himself by observing how Mr. Tan’s thin, unsmiling lips puckered
tensely after each sentence. Kyle also noticed that he swallowed his saliva
once at least every thirty seconds, then wrinkled his nose, adjusted his
glasses, and brushed off dandruff flakes from his shoulders. Predictable,
boring, routine, ugly Mr. Tan. No wonder he’s a Physics teacher, he thought,
the teacher reflects the subject.
A refreshing breeze blew his boredom away,
albeit temporarily. Almost instinctively Kyle turned and looked out the window
onto the school field, where some class was having P.E.. I belong there, Kyle
muttered, not in Physics class. It was agonising to be restrained in this de
facto prison. Every hour seemed like a decade, perhaps even longer when he
saw other people having fun.
But then there was Jennifer.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
RING, BELL, RING!!! Kyle’s restless soul had
enough of Mr. Tan’s facial dynamics and the goalless football match. He wanted
to scream and break free of such misery, but social constraints dictated
otherwise. Therefore he contented himself with fantasising about his date with
Jennifer after school. Ignoring the incomprehensible verbiage from Mr. Tan’s
moving lips, his eyes gradually made their way to Jennifer.
She looks ravishing as usual, thought Kyle, but
rather dejected today. He worshipped every inch of her; her piercing eyes, her
teasing smile, her fragrant hair. Her mere presence made Physics almost bearable!
If only Jennifer was teaching me, Kyle wished, instead of the old fogey. If only. Then I wouldn’t mind
spending years in a classroom, even if it was Physics.
Kyle had never failed Physics per se,
but the low Ds he scraped through with were a perennial source of disharmony
between him and his parents. He was under intense pressure to get his grades
up, or at the very least sustain them, or he would be banned from seeing
Jennifer. Jennifer – the love of his life! Kyle was infatuated with her. He
could skip meals and computer games and television shows whenever she
telephoned, and not even notice! Although his parents liked her personally,
they thought her too much of a distraction for Kyle and his lacklustre results.
But mom, he’d complain, I don’t spend enough
time with her anyway. Besides, she’s really good in Physics for some odd
reason, and concentrates so hard in class that she ignores me.
Jennifer paid no attention to her admirer’s
longing gazes. Kyle had no choice but to entertain himself with either Mr. Tan’s
antics or the monotonous game. What a humongous waste of my time, he grumbled.
Let it end, please, I beg of you, prayed Kyle.
Let my suffering end.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Mr. Tan knew how to control a class. His exact,
precise manner instilled Machiavellian fear into his students. They all
listened attentively when he lectured, or at least they seemed to. Everyone
except Kyle. Only his eyes dare wander when I speak, he discerned, as Kyle
winced at yet another wasted football goal opportunity.
Mr. Tan also loved Physics. Since twelve, he
relished the thought of enlightening young and malleable minds about the wonderful
world of science. O, how he remembered his schooldays, always sitting in front,
always getting the right answers, always being praised, always teacher’s pet.
How he would passionately devote five unflinching, intensive hours a day
studying Physics in the library because the curriculum wasn’t challenging
enough. The good old days…
He snapped out of it and was transported forty
years into the present, from Tan Chong-Ming the prodigy to Mr. Tan the teacher.
How fast time flew.
Especially during my Physics lessons, he
thought. There’s never enough time for my lessons. Every time I get the
students energised enough to learn productively, every time I’m having fun cruising
along the syllabus, the dastardly bell rings. What’s wrong about schools today
is that they schedule too little time for science and too much for useless
subjects like Moral Knowledge.
Don’t ring, bell, hoped Mr. Tan. Please, I beg
of you, don’t ring.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Thank you, God, smiled Kyle.
Blast it, cussed Mr. Tan. I wanted to finish
The students poured out of the class as fast as
they could. As Kyle was about to catch up with Jennifer, he heard: “Hold on, Kyle.
I’ll have a word with you.”
Kyle cursed his luck. Mr. Tan remembered his
missing project! “What’s up, sir?”
“I’ll be working on your final grades today.
Since you did not bring your project, you shall stay back and complete a test
for your marks. You understand?”
“Bu—but I’ve a date after school!”
“You do, indeed. With me. Remember, without
this test you will fail your Physics.”
Defeated, Kyle gave in. Bummer, he thought,
Jennifer won’t be happy.
“The time starts now.”
It was an inverse juxtaposition of sorts. Now,
Kyle lunged at his test questions at a furious pace, while Mr. Tan lounged in his
comfortable recliner with a relaxing anthology of poems.
…explain the Theory of Relativity in layman’s
terms, quoting Einstein…
To every thing there is a season,
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
…sitting next to a pretty girl for an hour feels
like a minute; placing one’s hand on a hot stove for a minute feels like an
A time to search, and a time to give up as
A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
…the time needed for K to reach the ground when
dropped from a height of…
The only audible sounds were the rustling of
pen against paper and the hypnotising tick-tock of the wall clock. Sweat
dripped profusely from Kyle’s forehead as Mr. Tan’s eyelids gradually grew
heavier. Kyle squirmed uncomfortably, jerkily, as he tried to hold it all in.
“May I use the bathroom, please?” Kyle pleaded,
still scribbling feverishly, not even looking up.
“Huhh–ah,” muttered Mr. Tan, caught unaware.
“You may, but there will be no extra time.”
Kyle swore under his breath for the second time
today, admonishing himself for forgetting to take the trip before the test, as
was his custom. He stopped himself, although he was thirsty, from adding to the
already burgeoning burden in his bladder. He did not have enough time to
accomplish both his mental and physiological tasks, and so after a quick value judgment
he chose the more important one.
…the large specific heat capacity of water…
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
…friction will substantially decrease velocity…
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
…differentiate Charles’ Law from Boyle’s…
To the last syllable of recorded time,
…interference destroys waves…
Out, out, brief candle!
…according to Newton’s Principia…
It is a tale
…Bernoulli’s principle was…
Told by an idiot,
Full of sound
…the nuclear advent…
He hurt everywhere. It was not only his throbbing
headache, sore fingers and bursting bladder, but also emotional agony, and a
pulsing dread of the immediate future. He was crucified, and he made his slow, painful,
encumbered walk down his via dolorosa to the bathroom.
It took quite a while to relieve himself of his
most pressing urge. He splashed his face with water, took a hard look at his
wretched self in the mirror, and decided that he had to face the cold, hard
truth. It was time to be a man. He started the long journey back.
A sense of irony prevailed. For Kyle, an hour
of Physics passed lethargically, excruciatingly; an hour of testing zipped by,
hastily, like an arrow to its target. Paradoxically, Mr. Tan was always acutely
aware of his lack of lesson time; while his leisurely, even sleep-inducing
invigilation session dragged by without him realising it.
Einstein was right. Time is relative.
Kyle found the room deserted,
but his paper was still on the table. He crept up to it, taking long strides that
lasted centuries. There he found it intact, but with newly added bold, red font:
APRIL FOOLS TO YOU TOO. I expect
your Physics project to be on my desk by 8 am sharp tomorrow.
P/S: Jennifer won’t be seeing you
this evening. I’ve grounded her for breaking her curfew last night.