In the early morning of the day of my thesis defend. My mother prepared for lunch for the examiners and the audience at the guest-room of the Department of Mathematics in the University of Rangoon. She was so anxious about me. I too was excited for my thesis defend. The professor, the examiners and my friends arrived in time. The audience sat before me and listened what I was going to give a presentation of my thesis.
‘Good morning. Thank you for coming to my presentation. Before the exposition of my work, permit me to say a few words regarding the solution of a mathematical problem. When you are given a mathematical problem, there are two things you can do. You can either give the answer, or show beyond doubt that the problem has no answer. Ironically in mathematics, proving that a certain problem has no answer is also a way of giving the answer. Now, the title of my thesis is;…………………..
‘…………………….This is the end of my presentation. Thank you.’
I looked at my watch. I talked about twenty minutes exactly, about my thesis. I looked at the examiners hoped to be asked questions. I knew the audience had the same as me. About two or three minutes, no questions aroused form my examiners. I stood still and watched their faces.
At that time the professor firstly spoke, ‘I think there should be a full stop here.’ I replied him, ‘I will correct it later, sir.’ The external examiner said, ‘Yes, and the next sentence should begin with a capital letter instead of a small letter here.’ The professor, ‘And I think you forget to put a comma here.’ The internal examiner and external examiner talked with my father who stood beside him as a supervisor. My father explained them what they asked about the figure in the thesis. I tried to go between them. But they all ignored me, and discussed about my thesis with my father alone. I stood still and felt I was a stranger here.
I was surprised by the voice of the professor after standing five minutes without answering any question, ‘Well, if there are no more questions, I think is the end of the session.’
(‘No question in the viva examination is impossible. But now I understand nothing is impossible.’) (Illustrated by Maung Yit)
After my thesis defend, I heard my friends’ ironical words which I hated so much, ‘Oh! How lucky you are to have got through the viva examination as lightly – without being asked a single question! I suppose it’s because of your father’s position. Yesterday, during my thesis defend, they asked me questions for nearly two hours. The more I couldn’t answer, the more they pressed me with questions. How lucky you are!’
Lucky? May be, if I were without ambition other than just to get the degree in any way, they may call it lucky. As it is, I got no chance to show my ability. They never thought of that? But my thesis is well written and have a good impression as my friends said to me. But I dared say my friends, my father said that these were unreliable and could be integrated in any way they like by the examiners. It was only by asking questions that it was possible to make a true judgement of the candidiate’s ability. As it is, the evaluation of my thesis will be made according to the use of full slops, commas, small and capital letters. Under these conditions, I could not get more than ordinary pass.
(‘Don’t make unimportant things important – Dai Vernon’)
(Pic credit, quote-don-t-make-unimportant-things-important-dai-vernon-87-85-02)
By the way, my mother and some friends were waiting for me to have a lunch in the guest room. As my friends said the important thing is to gain the Master degree however it finished with good or bad impression to the audience. They cheered me up and said that do not think too much, I have the Master degree after all, it’s over and let’s go and celebrate.
The only opportunity that I have been waiting through my academic life, to show my pride clear, and pure, was now absolutely ruined… (Dear examiners, you would never know what you have done to me. My pride, my ambition, and my hope were destroyed at the precious time of my thesis defence. My whole academic life with the hope of showing my pride to public was now broken, and beaten!) The very chance might never occur again. Now they threw it away completely.
Everybody around would have laughed me if I had said aloud my feeling? I felt ashamed of my conscience, and my proud of being a daughter of a mathematician.
(Mother, why they had ignored me, and they only discussed about my thesis to my father?) (Pic credit – MjAxMy0zNjRkMDAzYjgxNGFlZWEy.png)
At night, I looked at my unfinished article on my desk. The last lines I wrote down last night stifled the cry that was ready to burst from me. I could not dare to write conclusion about my thesis defend that end with failure. That was not because of the questions from the examiners I could not answer. That was because of not any question to me from the examiners. I bit my lips, clenched my hands, ‘I do not let end like this.’ I made a decision at the very night, and let my parents know what I was going to do next. At least I could put my conscience an end to all my doubts. ‘If I will loose, or they will win.’ I have to do it tomorrow. Then I went to sleep, and had a good night slumber.
Tomorrow is another day.
‘Destiny ever finds some way to work out its own ends.’