89/100 in Lesson of life
How important is an 85% anyway?? I had this conflict ever since the day, I was six and my mother beat me hard for not having written answers to questions which could have made me a class first!
Class first…Hmm… does it sound familiar?? Brought up in typical south Indian Brahmin family, I was told that a career came before life. A 100% in mathematics was the biggest achievement and a stepping stone to all successes ahead… Life revolved around scoring marks that made you the top in class and among every cousin in the family, getting into IIT, fly to US for a Masters and becoming a software engineer like every “good” student did or should??!… Well… I sadly never achieved it all… I have never scored a 100% in board exams. Wasn’t the topper of my class… Didn’t make it through IIT… much to my mother’s disappointment … I was a much too a moderate student who ended up being a pseudo Software Engineer, that every city-born, Brahmin south Indian SHOULD! 23 years of birth n later I am a developer like a million others and became part of the Software genre of IT professionals, lost in the grains of sand that holds the US economy together and running after a Dollar dream!! Many a time I wonder is this really what I want and why?? And I am lost for an answer. Is it the way my family wants me to be? Is it the trend for every educated south Indian Brahmin family?? Or is it a simple “Be a roman in Rome” syndrome??
Yes, like everyone in the field, I am good at what I do… But the point is… Does this define life itself??
Is it ethical or even moral to tell a child that scoring more than everyone in class defines her? If she doesn’t come in the first 3 in class, her life is practically doomed?? How healthy is this competition?? Can this be defined as competition?? Is it right to force a child to tread a path she doesn’t want to?? Is it right to make a student feel that a failure can spell hell?? If she doesn’t do as well as half the world, does it mean she is a loser in life??
I spent the last 18 months of my life finding answers to these questions and ended up making my Masters experience a horribly good one… ‘Class first’ turned out to be a sardonic reality! Stuck in a classroom of my country men and women (a home away from home??) striving to be a part of the ‘software imports’, I felt immensely pressurized to perform better than ever. Little did I realize then — that achievement among forty meant nothing when you are thrust against another forty million ; Confidence and time-management spelt success and not a 99/100 ; Working smart helped you get grades and not Working hard(er) ; Masters was all about following your heart and not proving to be better than the best!
My struggle to keep grades high through the ‘Be a roman’ ideals led to my first failure. Failing a course had been the ultimate suicidal experience of my life! I no longer feel embarrassed admitting it to myself or to the world through this blog. What followed in my life was determination and reasons to live, which has brought me where I am right now. I feel re-born, with the right ideals – struggle to follow your heart and dreams ; work to be able to smile and feel contended about yourself and your life ; Love what you do and do it only if you love it.
I look at the report card which reads – Mathematics – 89/100 ( “Can do better “ remark by my teacher ) and my heart no longer sinks with disappointment, but I feel proud that I was able to look at life beyond a piece of paper that said my mathematics score!!
Disclaimer: The author is not targeting south Indian Brahmin families, she belongs to one too!. Any resemblance is purely coincidental.