This article got published in my school magazine, Abhaas, the annual school magazine of D.A.V. Public School, KalingaNagar, Bhubaneswar.
To every parent who was a child once upon a time and to every child who is still a dreamer.
Every morning, while I cross the pavement to go to the bus stop, I see students waiting for their vehicles; the little ones, being accompanied by their parents.
A small trickle comes down my cheeks.
How I wish I could go back to my school again!
Like a clay slowly getting moulded, I have seen myself growing over the years through the very corridors of this institution. I have been shaped and reshaped by my teachers, the torch bearers of my alma matter. My ears are still sensitive to the sweetness of the period bells; while my nasal passage has the potential to jump with excitement to the aroma wafting out of the school canteen! My childhood was awesome.
But there is just one thing that I’d like to complain about; which most of the adults would shoo away, thinking that this is just a way to shy away from homework and responsibilities:
A career choice apart from Engineering and Medicine!
What a blasphemous suggestion! they might say.
It makes me sad to disclose that we Indians treat Arts students with more contempt than we treat any wrongdoer.
When we are tiny tots, we are given crayons and paper, and are free to draw anything we like. But as we slowly grow up, our color pencils are replaced with lead pencils, that only help us with arithmetic and spellings. Worse still, our pencils are taken away so that our bonded hands can grow accustomed to pens, that never allow us to edit a written word. Slowly, we are taught to make less mistakes and become more responsible. But I remember a quote from ‘The Spiderman’:
“With great power, comes great responsibility.”
How can we be expected to become more responsible if we are never allowed to explore the paths we like? How can we be expected to excel in swimming when our hearts are flying in the skies? Is it always possible to learn from others’ mistakes while we are never allowed to do anything of our own? Aren’t successful experiments supposed to be revamps of mistakes as well? How many times have we read in our Science textbooks that Penicillin had been discovered accidentally? Didn’t it take a thousand attempts for Edison to make the perfect light bulb?
I feel sad to see students burdened, not with the competition that the Indian population gladly provides, but with the pressure of parents, peers and of course, the society. *Since everyone after 10th takes up Science, let me take it up as well. Since Engineering is the ”in thing” to be done, my son should prepare for IIT-JEE. *(Spoiler alert: if you don’t get through JEE, your whole life is ruined. Doubt me? Go watch ”3 Idiots”!)
After graduation and a placement with an IT company, I thought that my troubles were over. My parents and teachers were proud of me. I was young and financially independent, I thought so, till one day I came across the Facebook profiles of some of the alumnus of our school. They had decided to take on the paths that seemed atrocious to the common man.
One of my batch mates decided to go with Journalism, and today he is a writer for the Orissa Post.
Another classmate of mine dropped a year for pursuing medicine but sadly could not get through the entrance examination. Not being disheartened, he chose to graduate in Biotechnology and now is a prestigious research scholar of the Khorana Program with the California University.
A friend, who was particularly weak in Science and Math, decided to study Law. Today she is pursuing her post graduation from the National Law University, Odisha.
A junior, who excelled in singing, has now even started his own YouTube channel for his fans. He manages his studies but his love for singing has never taken a backseat.
The most illustrious example would that of be a schoolmate 2 years junior to me. She loved anchoring since childhood, and had featured in many TV shows. Determined, she realised that the world of glamour was her calling, and today she is one of the most sought after models and anchors of our state.
I was dumbstruck and taken aback. I felt sorry for myself, I felt pity. My so called perfect world came down crashing in front of me in seconds, and I have not been able to recover from the trauma ever since. I felt like my whole life has been a lie, and I seem to live on the leftovers that the dramatic two faced civilisation has got used to throw at me now. I felt like burning my mark sheets that seemed to have chained my limbs to a scale that measured success with respect to the financial growth of an individual.
I thought about the last time I took out some hours from my rote schedule to pen down a few words. To my dismay, I realised that more than a year had passed and I hadn’t touched my papers and ink. I used to be a part of the school choir group, but I had never taken formal classes. Now I sound like a Mynah with a sore throat. I loved reading, but I had finished my last novel way back in 2016 and teaching was something I couldn’t think of now. I still remember how I had got a call from a private medical college, and since it is the general notion that government colleges are the best, I decided to cross out that option and move on with a B.Tech. I chose Engineering, and I compromised with my life. I spend many nights thinking how my life would have been if I would haven’t paid any heed to what people had said on those days and just gone forward with my dream. Sorry Robert Frost, sorry CBSE, despite of your poem in our English curriculum, The Road not Taken, my fears took over my head and made me succumb to the insecurities of some random people whose opinions were actually baseless and don’t even matter anymore.
I wish I could go back now and revive my spirituality, my dreams, my aspirations. It was solely my mistake to be blinded with the star gaze that a so called successful career provides. But mind you, my dear friends, that money can buy everything except happiness, and true happiness comes only from the people who love you back and the passions that ignite your heart. I hope that starting from today, each and every one of us shall make an effort to set aside at least a couple of hours for a favourite constructive hobby like swimming, gardening or dancing and try to make an effort towards that sector so that we won’t repent later.
Education is not about scoring a perfect ninety five, it is about being aware of the choices one can make to ensure a fulfilling life, to help us identify our strengths and weaknesses, to hold on to the dreams that are ours and only ours, and to explore our hidden potential that can reward us with satisfaction and peace. Learn to protect your dreams, for they hold a shine so bright, even brighter than pearls and diamonds, that people tend to steal them.
I hope my simple yet sincere voice would reach out to the depths of your young minds and fragile hearts. Let’s make our school famous not only for academics but also for our artistic creations!
Let’s celebrate life, we have only one of it.
All the best for all your upcoming exams. Never neglect your studies!
Thanks and Regards