In the 1994 movie The Shawshank Redemption, Tim Robbins plays Andy Dufresne, a banker who was wrongfully sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife. The movie revolves around his life in incarceration, and ended with — spoiler alert — an incredible escape from the Shawshank State Penitentiary. Ask anyone who has watched the movie and many would cite the escape as the most iconic scene of the film, if not in the history of Hollywood.
Over 19 years of his life in prison, Andy had dug up a tunnel using only a rock hammer and, on a stormy evening, made his way through the tunnel into the sewage pipes to the river outside. He only had a Raquel Welch poster to cover up the hole on the wall. By the time the guards found out, it was already too late. Andy was already a free man, eager to unshackle himself from imprisonment and taste the liberty of the outside world.
Well that’s how I feel right now. I have just submitted my MBA Final Project report.
Unlike Andy Dufresne, however, I did not have Morgan Freeman to narrate my life in business school. It would be nice to have him chronicle the 15,000-word document, though. For every postgraduate student, the final project/dissertation/thesis is the raison d’etre. The final piece that culminates all that you have learned in your field of study. The final lap of the race that embodies the blood, sweat and tears that you have put in throughout the journey. And behind every submission, there is usually enough drama to fit a feature-length motion picture.
Mine was a laptop malfunction two weeks before the deadline. Granted, I’ve had the machine since Gordon Brown was still Prime Minister. After a few hours drenched in perspiration and fear, I finally managed to resuscitate the machine with some complex programming and furiously restarting the system like a madman. The files were all intact, but my heart function suffered in the process.
I did have the files backed up on Google Drive as I have been religiously saving every new version into cloud storage. But as fate would have it, my laptop died after an intense 3,000-word session — not much of which I could recall by heart. The thought of re-writing the entire lost sections had me shudder like a singing contestant on the set of Hell’s Kitchen.
The silver lining of the whole incident was a renewed spirit for me to complete the report ahead of the deadline. I was resolute on committing the coming week to the report and dedicating my full focus on finalising the findings of my analysis. Completing the report early would also eliminate any more technical mishaps. If technology can send us to the moon, it can surely wipe out my final draft.
I have to thank a few people, without whom I might not have reached the ‘Submit’ button to upload the report PDF. The Programme Management Team have been diligently guiding us from as early as December 2015, about a year ago, to make sure that everyone is on-track and no one is silly enough to write his report using a dying laptop.
My supervisor, Dr. Jonathan Pinto, has also been very patient and supportive in coaching me throughout the paper. He was like Mr. Miyagi, looking over the Karate Kid. Except that we are both probably more agile than them. (I hope he’s reading this.)
Like Andy Dufresne, the time has now come for me to kick back and enjoy some me time. Maybe it’s time to catch up with Shawshank Redemption as well. It has been a while. If you manage to grab a copy of the film, the cover of the DVD reads, “Fear Can Hold You Prisoner, Hope Can Set You Free”. I hope I pass this Final Project.