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WHEN EXAM WAS NOT SO FAMILIAR

You know, one thing about computer science students is their unrelenting desire to always brag about the little things they know. Naturally, a computer science student would want the whole world to know that he can do tech stuff, or write in some strange languages only computers understand, or bypass simple security protocols. I guess this brings them some sense of closure, knowing they will literally spend their entire lives babysitting computers, alone. Such a despicable existence!

But I often think Mathayo overdoes this whole bragging shit more than any of us. No offence, but he is that guy you wish would always be clueless about nothing. Take last year for instance; we consorted as a class to test the security of the institution’s financial system, of course with the intention of identifying and helping eliminate any kind of vulnerability there may be. Whether it was ethical or otherwise is subject of discussion for another day.

Well, we would be forced to abort a few days later because even after leaking this vital information to his thin legged Kamba girlfriend (and you know Kamba women with keeping secrets is like the Kenyan government and integrity- hawapatani), Mathayo still felt compelled to announce to everyone in and out of the Keg dens he frequents, that he- a wild genius- would be leading a group of intellectuals in the very first digital money heist in this institution and the country at large. We were lucky no one took him THAT seriously, otherwise we would be rotting in jail somewhere in the forgotten parts of this country. All because some shit bag could not keep his mouth shut.

But I digress.

Now we have been having exams and on Tuesday last week, we were to sit for this paper taught by one of those lecturers who insists they fear corona too much to attend physical classes, so they only teach online. This online teaching, essentially, is just them uploading several tones of PDFs in our e-learning portals and constantly reminding us that they have two PhDs and therefore under no circumstances should we ever question them.

 And so lacking any other option, most of us resort to YouTube Indian guys with the most cringingly annoying voices below the sun, telling us that, “my name is Rakesh and in this tutorial I’m going to show you how to learn Java in two minutes”. By the way, most of these guys you see brandishing their degrees in IT actually attributes those degrees more to YouTube Indians than to actual university professors. And I’m only telling you this in confidence because most of us do not like this noble information being known among you all commoners.

I don’t know which kind of Algorithm he used but somehow, Mathayo came to a conclusion that the Tuesday’s paper would just be an exact replica of the previous year’s paper. He argued that the probability of the good old professor repeating the exam he set last year was a hundred to zero. In fact, he was so confident he managed to convince almost the entire class, of course, with the exception of me, the most intelligent, the most suave, the most poised human this side of the Sahara, a man who doesn’t just  roll with the common folk.

When I walked into the exam room that Tuesday, an hour before the start of the paper, I found Mathayo addressing the comrades like he was the child formed out of the union of Einstein, Zukerbag and Gates. And the comrades were drinking to his every word as if his words were keg and they were all in some dingy den of sin. He was saying, “The simplex method which is going to be the first question is very easy. After finding your slack variables, you simply calculate the new values of the table by multiplying the negative value of the pivot column in the previous table by the pivot row of the current table and then you add the value in the previous table to achieve an optimal solution.  See, very easy!”

Relax. I know you comprehend nothing. You and I same whatsApp group.

It was a mesmerizing spectacle to watch really, and it would have been even more mesmerizing if only a single thing Mathayo bragged about was among the questions in the exam paper. But there was no simplex method anywhere in that paper. Instead, the good old professor wanted us to compute complexity theorys and use Kruskal’s algorithm to do God-knows-what. Mathayo’s disbelieving face and the panic stricken faces of his Neanderthal followers provide a great comic relief though.                                

 Anyway, I am still impressed by his ability to command a crowd. In fact, I think I will invite him over to the plot to help me with the fight against Bosibori the ceremonial caretaker of the plot where I’m the de-facto caretaker.

By: Tony Ogwa

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