May 18th 2007
It was with great pride that appa had collected my Anna University issued degree certificate, conferring the completion of my Bachelors in Engineering. He had mailed me the scanned copy with utmost humility – “Passed in first class with distinction. I am proud of you.” Those words offered more despondence than delight when I read it. It was last year in May and I was giving my final exams in the second semester of the Masters program; an experience which had taught me how to live life.
I had no pompous ceremonies to mark the BE Degree, which we treat with much facetiousness in the Engineering colleges of Chennai. Engineering, for the most of us, was four years of relentless fun that sans orthodox nerdish attitudes. If at all one decides to quench the thirst for knowledge, it was on the nights before the semester exams, when the lights would burn incessantly to make the score to clear the paper.
The few rashly ambitious, like me, take higher studies to be the best bet to make up for that lost phase of erudition. Like the other counterparts who made it to this country with me, I too made the transition with innumerous blocks, amidst annihilating home-sickness. However, I had gone an extra step behind and made irreparable blunders; landing myself in a well so deep, that for over eight months, I felt I would never surface.
I look back at the shady winter of 2005, when for the first time in my life I had spent a new year’s eve, shut behind lonely doors in disturbing silence. I clearly recall the eerie feeling, which had driven me to attempts of inexplicable euthanasia owing to an emotionally challenged mind. It indeed scares me to realize that I was capable of the extreme ignominy and guilt bundled up to take my life away; but glad I came through it alive, literally and figuratively!
Standing a year away from those dark ages, the imprints of not making a course, so brutally preserved in transcripts, still makes my heart sink and rise at the same time. Sink, because with it, I carried the hopes of a life-time I was ushered upon, blended with the anti-climax to those dreams. Rise, because, even after being smothered with the deepest dirt, I had pulled myself on to break it and come through, to experience this little windowed cube, a challenging code to crack and a contented bank balance.
Behind the aura of amiable life I stand at right now, the forgotten fears still lurk. With the graduation day approaching in a week’s time, I am reluctant to take that step to walk down the aisle to professorate myself as a MS degree holder. It gets me thinking what achievement means to me in the light of not just myself but the world around me. Am I deep inside, still averse to feeling like an achiever to even my nearest ones?
I watched the elaborate observance at NEU last Saturday, when many friends of mine took that bold step and smiled with utmost joy through the graduation robes at their proud parents and pals. The ceremony moved me by all bounds, beyond the resplendence and camera smiles. It was not about the 4.0/4.0 GPA or the 100K job, but the sense of responsibility one has; to be encouraging to oneself about every little step towards a professed goal. It was this responsibility, I was declined to wear.
Yet, I muse to walk at my graduation, amidst the inconspicuous world, which has much more to worry about, than this girl who is humbly confused about her achievements. I go through that file of my academic (pun intended) aggregation, denoted by loose printed papers. I wonder if I was running away from being accredited for the details in the papers and not for what I am beyond them. But then, why am I running away, is something I am still trying to find.