Shuffling sheepishly, shaking his shaggy head
Sleep still stinging his half open eyes
He staggers sluggishly into class
Sits heavily on his chair
And takes out a book.

He slept at twelve last night
Or was it this morning?
He woke up at three
And read till he blacked out…
Then the clanging clarion call of the bell
Woke him up again.

The sentences move like marching ants –
Neat, black horizontal rows across the white page…
His eyes red, and something like a hangover
Is pounding inside his spinning head
The lines grow blurry…
His eyelids heavy…
His head even heavier…

But no! He mustn’t!
There are three hundred thousand candidates
Sitting the examination this year
And only twenty thousand university slots…
And there’s a scramble and a furore to get in
Like breaktime at the canteen!
Every second he sleeps, he’s jostled further from the door…

So he forces his eyes open,
With a Herculean effort
And tries to make sense
Of polymers and pyroxides
Sulphur, sodium and silica…
Uranium-235, Thorium-232
And tetraamines, and tetrahydroxyls, and stearates, and –