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Best of Luck

Author: Clifford Martis

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People use various terms to wish success to those who are going to write exams or going for an interview or going on some very important work. They say ‘All the Best’ or ‘Wish you success’ and so on. But of all these good wishes and encouragement an important method is to wish someone luck. The usual phrase used by people is ‘Best of luck’.

This wish of best of luck has a slight misunderstanding. Why should we wish luck to someone? Do we feel that the person has not prepared well for the task or not studied the subject of the exam thoroughly? If we feel that the person has not prepared well for the interview or exam and has to depend on luck in order to become successful then there is meaning in wishing him luck.

No doubt there are many areas where luck alone matters. No room for preparation or study. These are lotteries and many other games where luck prevails. Even in such activities there may be a small amount of preparation in learning how to play the game, being quick enough to respond and so on. I remember the story of a dog who used to play cards with his master. He had the habit of vigorously shaking his tail whenever he got very good cards. One area in which we can definitely wish ‘Best of Luck’ to someone who is going to see a girl for the purpose of getting married.

Let me tell you how luck played a strange role in examinations. I remember whenever we had exams my friends used to urge me to be ready at the entrance to the exam hall much in advance of the time. They would ask me to explain this or the other matter and try to acquire as much information as possible within that very short time. I can’t say how far this last minute preparation in a hurry could be of help. But some of the chaps did tell me that they were able to answer the exam because of the last minute emergency session. One or two boys said that they passed the exam only due to this last minute emergency preparation.

I remember the story of a very good teacher. As he was invigilating during the exam he saw a candidate who had folded the paper to indicate that he had finished the job. The teacher took the paper, turned round the pages and at last folded the paper at a wrong point (Where there was a diagram incorrectly drawn by the student) and put it back. The student wondered why the teacher folded the paper in that manner, and once again folded it properly. The teacher came round a second time and took the paper and again folded it in his (earlier) method. The student was very much surprised but all of a sudden he realized that his diagram had a big error. Immediately he corrected it. He had just enough time for making the correction. Just then the bell rang to indicate the end of the exam session. For the student this was a matter of great luck. (But the question remains whether what the teacher did was entirely right).

Let me tell you how luck played double game with me when I was preparing for the MA degree exam at Madras Christian College. Mr. Healey the Professor came to my room (Hostel) at 8 PM and asked me whether I was willing to take up lectureship in the College. I said I was just preparing for the exam and how could I decide about becoming a lecturer. He said, “You don’t worry about that. Just tell me whether you are willing to take up lectureship?” I said “Yes” Taking it as godsend.

When I wrote the MA exam in Economics (Madras University) there was an error in the question paper. Normally when there are errors in question papers they make an announcement and indicate the correct version of the question. Strangely, however, there was no such announcement this time. The invigilators had no clue because they might have been from other disciplines (Other than Economics)

The question was, “Please explain the statement, ‘Interest is paid not only for saving money but for landing the money saved’. Many students wrote their answers taking the word landing itself. I took the word as lending and completed the answer. I am sure readers would know that lending is the correct word. I got First rank in the Madras University in MA. But luck played hide and seek with me because that year the University changed the system of marking the answer papers. Instead of allotting marks they gave grades. I got A grade but the earlier batch got marks. The grade system was a new experimental system. I did not get the honour and prize that is awarded to the first rank holder. In fact I never knew that I had first rank. I came to know only after a long time when the third rank holder contacted me and gave me a copy of the Fort St George Gazette. My name was shown in the Gazette as the first rank holder. Then I wrote to the University requesting them to confirm that I had the First Rank. They wrote a mechanical, lifeless letter with “He is informed that his name is found in the Gazette in the First Rank”.

I did lectureship for one year as desired by Mr Healey and then joined the LIC. While in the LIC I did law as part time study and got 2 nd rank in the Bombay University. I got Gold Medal and some other prizes. (The first rank went to the student who did the course on a full time basis) My name came in the newspaper. In my office my boss took me to the Director and mentioned my achievement. The Director also congratulated me.

A question arises whether the great deal of advice we hear from psychologists to think positively has something to do with luck. In other words do the psychologists mean that if we think positively we will have the luck to see positive results? Not likely. Positive thinking does not change the results. It only trains our mind to hope for and look for positive results.


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