By: Eman Ali, Batch of 2017 – NALSAR University of Law.
Till the end of grade 10, I was extremely sure of where my life was going – straight to IIT. Coming from a family of engineers and mathematicians, I knew the way. I got a CGPA worth boasting in my boards: ten on ten, and I very enthusiastically opted for the science stream. I wanted Math and Biology together, no less. Ultimately, I had to settle for Psychology in place of Biology due to school restrictions, but I had the stream I had planned on taking – PCM. I was so sure of my decision that I ordered myself a two year postal course of Brilliant Tutorials, modules of which piled high in my wardrobe and were, eventually, given away unused.
Gradually, as grade 11 proceeded, I found my interest in science dwindling to a point where I became sure I couldn’t do it for the rest of my life, especially Physics. I just knew I could not do it forevermore. When I first expressed my inclination to do law or rather my disinclination to do science, my parents thought I was just talking crazy. After all, people sure of what they want to do, don’t suddenly change their minds out of the blue, do they?
They convinced me to keep my science stream as it would keep both options open and give me two years to think over what I really wanted. They, of course, thought that I was going through a phase. In the meantime, I figured out a way to keep both me and my parents happy. I decided to give both fields a shot – crack CLAT and IIT. I joined an IIT math coaching and one for CLAT too. Whenever the two overlapped, I chose CLAT. But gradually, I started losing interest in the math coaching. Believe me, I loved what they taught us there, it interested me and was damn cool. But something was missing – the passion for doing it. I just couldn’t drive myself to do their assignments, and classes started becoming a time of the day that I dreaded. That was the time that made it hard on me.
My parents weren’t ready to see me give up on IIT, altogether. They were unsure, for nobody in my family had done law and for the first time they were faced with a field they would not be able to guide me through, having no experience of it. But my dad did tell me one thing: nothing would be forced on me and I would only do what I wanted to do. Ultimately, the decision would be mine.
I was in conflict myself. I didn’t want to let my parents down, I didn’t want to do anything against their will and yet, even though I was unsure myself, I knew engineering wasn’t the way. Gradually, through repeated discussions and deliberations, I had them convinced that law was the way for me and I stopped going to my math coaching and got a refund. And then, there was no turning back. As far as I could see, law was the only way forward for me.
I’m not sure what exactly brought me to law; whether it was my mother constantly saying I argued like a lawyer or movies like Legally Blonde (which made it seem so glamorous) or just my passion in debating. All I know is this – that one second I was set on becoming an engineer, on the path of fulfilling my parents’ dreams of me being an IITian and the next I was looking up career options in the field of law. And then I chanced upon various wonderful websites and I found how perfect the field of law was for me. I could be a litigator, join a law firm, join a media house, so on and so forth. Then again, there was the attraction of sky-high pay packages that got me excited. The multitude of options it presented before me made me sure that this was the way to go; it was the only field where I didn’t have to decide what exactly I would be doing for the rest of my life right now, at this very second. I would have 5 years at law school to think about that. And frankly, at age 17, I didn’t think I knew enough to be making that decision. I wanted to keep my options open and law school gave me just that.
Somewhere in between all the discussions, my dad challenged me (not very seriously, of course) to get into either of the top two colleges and he would, only then, let me go to law school. Now that’s typical of him; wanting me to go the best of whichever field it was that I opted. And somehow, even besides his challenge, it became my dream to get into NLSIU/NALSAR.
I will not deny, however, that I wasn’t exactly proactive in the year leading upto CLAT. I read the newspaper rarely, skipped coaching, etc. This – not because I didn’t want to do it, but because I found it increasingly hard to balance my school work, tuition work and board preparation along with CLAT prep. I had a bundle of modules which I attempted solving from time to time, but never very regularly.
Ultimately, as it turned out, I had a little more than a month left to prepare and lots to do. So I got down to it. I gave up all kinds of leisure time and worked my ass off for a month. I did modules, solved mocks, researched a lot, finished tests online, made extensive GK notes, downloaded full compendiums of CLATGyan and read them through and practised as much as I possibly could. I didn’t leave anything untouched. After all, this was the time that my life was being made, and it was me and my work alone which determined which way it went. If it didn’t work out, I would have no one else to blame or point fingers at, but myself. I would have no excuses, and even if I did, there would be no one listening to them or buying them. If I screwed this, it would be all words and no action. Nobody would buy my image of a brilliant student anymore and they would have no reason to. After all, the 10th board result had only so much glory attributable to it. This was my time to prove myself; my chance to show my worth.
Finally, the day came. With a hot, sweaty weather, uncomfortable seating arrangement and a soaring migraine (which no pain killer could cure), I went to give my exam. I had two options: I could let the conditions in my atmosphere get to me or I could choose to ignore them for 2 hours of my life (maybe the most important 2 hours so far in my life as they determined its course ahead). I chose the latter, for I knew that after those couple of hours were over I would have all the time in the world to get rid of headaches, sleep and relax in a cooler atmosphere. I just had to give it my all for those two hours. And, I guess, I did.
Our CLAT paper wasn’t the fairest, to say the least. What with the unexpected inclusion of legal knowledge and static GK. But instead of letting it get to me, I gave it my best shot, seeing as that would be the only thing I could do. I attempted it carefully and with a clear mind.
Luckily, I had finished attempting all sections five minutes before time (flukes included). So I decided to go back to my math section. I had already solved questions 1-11. God knows what came over me, and I decided to try and attempt it from the 20th question backwards. And believe me, the next 3-5 questions I attempted, were the easiest I had seen. I solved them in a jiffy and corrected my responses on the OMR (as luck would have it, all were incorrect conjectures). And then came the time to give my paper to the invigilator. Relieved.
Even though I couldn’t be sure what the result would be, I felt satisfied with what I had done. I had done my part. Two weeks later, I had the fortune of getting selected for NALSAR and here I am, 9 months and 25 days later, telling the next set of CLAT aspirants my story.
Frankly, when I started writing this I didn’t even know I had this much to say. However, All the Best for your exam! Work hard, learn not just from your mistakes but from others’ as well and believe in yourself. And every now and then reassure yourself and tell yourself that everything is going to be just fine. (:
P.S. In the end, math did pull me through. I can’t imagine where I would have been had I not attempted those last few questions. As they say, everything happens for a reason. Also, learn from your experiences as well, take advantage of every single opportunity you get and trust your instincts. You never know what might change your life. (: