As of today, there are only 44 days (42 or 43 for some of us) left until the final IB exam in November. That number alone is small enough, and next week we will be having a one-week Raya holiday. Minus 9 days from the number and it is only 35 days. Only slightly more than a month.

I am one of the Petronas scholars in Sri KDU with a relatively OK and steady results, and yet I still work hard for the final exam. I sleep around 5 – 6 hours everyday, and wish that I could reduce that to only 5 hours everyday, because there’s still much to cover and still much to do. I sit down at my table every night after dinner, with a cup of hot coffee opening books and studying and revising and doing past year exam papers until the clock shows that I need to sleep, or I will not be efficient in school the next day. In most of this time, I keep thinking to myself there’s only so much a man can do, and I sure wish I can do more.

But those other Petronas scholars – those other good friends of mine – I can still see them missing Chemistry classes that are important to them. I can still see them opening books at night, but most of the time spent the time chatting on the laptop. I can still see them absent from class because they fall asleep in the morning and no one wakes them up. I can still see them putting a lot of concern on petty stuffs like walking out to eat ice cream at night when they could have waited until tomorrow on the way back from school. I can still see that they are relaxed, and does not work as hard as I do – even though they’re not one of those with a relatively OK and steady results.

In all logical thinking their effort should be more than me. For some of them, like Lingges, I can see that. But for most others, I can see that they are still relaxed.

I don’t know. I’m working hard because I don’t want to leave it to chance for me to pass the 35 points. Are they that confident they can pass the cut-off point already, that there’s nothing that can possibly go wrong? Don’t they know what’s at stake?

And what bothers me more is that most of those people I mentioned above are Malays like me. The other Chinese scholars – my friends – they are all relatively OK like me, if not better. Exception is for Chan Hu, of course, but he is also picking up now. Are we so comfortable with our quantity here that it is OK that only a few of us excel? There are much less Chinese here than Malays, but most of them if not all are good. What do we have in number if we don’t have the quality? We need to be at par with them if not better if we are to have a good relation with them. This country has seen too many affirmative action for the Malays, but that’s because the Chinese had a headstart and we need to catch up. But are we catching up?

It’s OK to go buy ice cream and play games and watch movies, but you have to know when to get down to business and when to have some time for yourself. I play games and watch movies and go out with friends all the same, sometimes even more than most people, but all the while I ensure that my points do not go below 35. I’ll feel guilty if I waste my time on self-indulgence when I’m not performing well. Don’t you have conscience, or even guilt, my friend?

Some people are born with good and sharp mind, that they can easily grasp the new concepts presented to them. But some people are not. If you are not born with good and sharp mind, well come to terms with it. Accept it, but don’t sit there and do nothing about it! I see some people cry after getting their exam result, but crying alone won’t change anything. If you’re not good in any particular topic or subject, work on it. Spend more time on it. And if, after having done that you are still having problem, then go ask for help. There are plenty of friends who are willing to help, but don’t expect them to come crawling to you to help you. You have to go to them. Doing nothing is totally unacceptable.

We are here because Petronas paid for us. We are here because we are granted the scholarship that other people out there are dreaming of. We are here in place of those people. Are we worth the exchange? Are we worth what is given to us? To those who consider themselves God-fearing, this is a trust given by those people. Betray the trust and dire consequences await us in the Afterlife. This is what you should feel if you are truly God-fearing. Simply posting up poster and reminders to pray on the wall is not enough.

I cannot stress enough how everyone needs to work hard at this period. If your results are not better than me every semester, then your efforts must be more than mine. Anything less will not suffice. And there’s not much time left. We cannot afford to be so relaxed anymore, or we’ll be left behind. This scholarship is not a privilege. It is a task entrusted upon us, and can be revoked should we fail to perform that task. The stake is high. There’s simply no place for mediocrity.