Tag Archives: student

Of Dad’s Advice To His Little Girl

“I know how you feel,” he said, clasping his daughter’s hand tightly.

“Scared and confused doesn’t even sum it up, Dad!” she murmured, withdrawing her hand and sighing.

“I know,” her dad says again. “I know you’re thinking that you are taking a big leap into the uncertainty. I know it feels like standing on one footstep and realizing that the staircase in front of you is actually a dead end. It’s not always going to be easy and you know that. It’s going to be a struggle from here on. But remember, everyone has to struggle in some way or the other. Each one of us goes through the same course in life in different little ways. I know you are afraid. I know you want to step back and live under the brighter sunshine. But no, my little girl, you’ve to go. You’ve to fly to discover what exists beyond the sun. And for that, you have to leave the ground. You’ve to leave this known haven behind.”

The speakers spluttered. The lady stated that it was the final boarding call.

“Dad, what if I fail?”

“You’ll never learn to fly, sweetheart, if you never fall. We’ll be there. We’ll have your back. In your darkest times, I promise you we’ll be there. When things go wrong, remember to struggle and live until the end of the day. What will matter twenty years from now is not where you reached but how you made the best of every opportunity you had with you. The next morning will be a new one. You’ve to keep faith and you’ll be fine.”

Her feet trudged along lazily. Her footsteps were heavy.

“How do you know I’ll be fine?” she cried.

Clasping her hand again and hugging her close to his heart, her father kissed her goodbye.

“You’ll be fine. You’ll be just fine,” he said.

Of Dreams Small and Big

Having grown up in a middle class family in urban India, surrounded by doctors and engineers and teachers, it is no surprise when I tell people that I want to be a doctor.

Being fairly good at studies, with a distinct passion for pursuing the Biology stream, that is the very idea I’ve grown up with and if I bother to look away from it, I’d choose to be a diplomat any day.

In an one interesting conversation on a Friday evening, a family friend asked me why didn’t I choose my parents profession-banking. To which, the answer was very simple. Both of them being government employees have a tremendous amount of responsibility on their shoulders. I’ve watched them work from 9 to 6, theirs eyes glued to computer screens, meeting people, signing documents and calling their head office every now and then. Though the benefits offered in a government job are aplenty, one thing that disappoints me is that they don’t have flexible hours and they don’t have many holidays too.

For most part of our lives, my brother and I have spent weekends watching the reruns of old movies on HBO, munching on junk food and waiting for Mom and Dad to return home. Though I’ve never “hated” their job, I don’t share that much of a liking for it. For I’d prefer a job with flexible working hours in which I can laze back awhile at home and pen down a good story or two. Plus, in the competitive country that I live in, engineering and medical studies are the most preferred career options and I’d be lying if I say that doesn’t have a slight influence on my decision.

In between light jokes and munching on snacks, I asked him what he wanted to become. He was then in his twelfth grade, pursuing the Science stream.

“I want to be a banker,” he replied, rather silently.

For a second, I found myself lost. I couldn’t figure out what to say. Even before he had answered, I had mentally told myself that he’s going for engineering, preferably involving the IT sector because that is what most students wanted to do after completing their twelfth grade.

“Banker? Really?” I found myself smiling. His reply ignited something in me. His reply was new. His reply was honest. It wasn’t like he was being dragged away by the wave. He stood far away from the shore, grounded and with a firm dream.

“Engineering, what about it?” I asked.

“I don’t want to become an engineer. I know I can’t.

“Oh c’mon, you can. It’s easy.”

“No. I know I’m not that good a student. I don’t want to be a bad engineer.”

His words stayed with me for long.

His simplicity overwhelmed me. The simplicity of the dream he carried. And I suddenly felt inferior.

I saw it everyday, in every home, in every class, students succumbing to the expectations of their parents and the society. One of my friends wanted to become a fashion designer, but she didn’t have enough courage to tell her parents about it. Though she did somehow, her parents still asked her to pursue engineering and then think about fashion designing. They told her that her job won’t pay as much as engineering. In a similar case, another friend of mine who wanted to become a journalist, found herself pursuing the medical stream because her family didn’t support her choice of a career.

It makes me sad to say but it has become the latest trend among students – pursuing engineering or medical studies. Anything less, then the society feels that you are not a good student. I’ve seen people become victims of depression because they couldn’t clear the competitive exams. Of those who clear them, not many have that much passion to pursue the stream.

Little dreams get lost among the complexity of it all.

They tell you to dream big. They tell you to dream about being a software giant or the head of an MNC. They never tell you to dream of being a good person. They never tell you to dream of being a good mother or father. They never tell you to dream your dream. Be it big, be it small, somewhere down the lane, many of our dreams get lost.

It pleased me to see him holding on to that dream when the people around him were dreaming even bigger.

The little, hungry child at the end of the road dreams of having a little cake in his birthday, while the teenager in his room, surrounded by gadgets dreams of having the newest phone launched in the market. To each one of them, it is a big dream. It is a dream that glimmers in their eyes and they wish to reach out and grasp it. To the teenager, the birthday cake may look like a small dream, but for the poor, little kid, it is like the biggest dream.

The beauty lies, not in the size of our dreams, but in the simplicity of it, in its uniqueness. The beauty is in sitting back and watching a little kid talk about how he dreams of flying someday. The beauty is in watching people dream – of how their dreams know no boundaries; of how they dream of owning a chain of hotels while some dream of only having a roof over their head. Dreams big and small.

“Hold on to that dream. Don’t ever let that go,” I told him. “Even if you see your friends talk about aiming for even better professions, don’t let that persuade you into believing that your dream is small and it doesn’t matter. Their dreams may be bigger. But yours is beautiful. Have courage to hold on to that dream.”

Since that day, each time I meet a person, I ask them about their dream. It inspires me. It amazes me to hear then talk about their dreams. And once upon a while, I hear a dream like that of his and I find myself feel happy about it.

Excuse Me?

I have been away from blogging for so long! All these days, I have been writing down random little things on sheets of papers and no matter how much I tried, I never could gather enough time to type it all out. Why, you ask.

The reason for this is I have a major major exam tomorrow. It’s not like I’ve been studying 24*7 or anything like that; but I’ve been under so much stress that I’ve never had a moment of respite all these days. Every time I logged in and sat down to read some of your blogs, I just couldn’t put my mind to it because of the constant tension hovering in my mind.

This exam means a lot for me. And I get one chance to prove myself here. I promise that once the exam is over, hopefully, within a couple of days, I’ll be able to get back to writing again and reading your beautiful thoughts as well.

I hope all your best wishes are with me, because I need them. Really.

Signing off for now.

I hope you have wonderful days!

Of Tomorrows And Todays And Golden Yesterdays

“I’ll be gone,” I tell him. “In less than a month or two, I’ll be packing my stuff and leaving.”

I watch a slow frown draw itself on his face as he hears me intently. His eyes blink slowly and from the heaps of books spread out in front of him, he looks up and meets my gaze.

“You’ll leave forever?” he asks.

Shrugging, I flip a page of the ruled notebook that lies in front of me and put my pen there. Closing it, I sit back on the chair and sigh.

“Not really,” I tell myself that it is the truth, but deep inside, something hurts. “I mean I’ll return twice or maybe thrice in a year. It’s not like I’m leaving forever.”

He nods his head carefully and looks down at the fluttering pages in front of him.

“Things are happening so fast!” I exclaim. “I remember waking up to August afternoons and cribbing. I wanted to leave sooner. The boredom was killing me. Each day, I’d put my books aside and tell myself that there’s still so much time! But look, it’s nearing April already! It seems like it was just yesterday when I was waking up to late mornings, lazily sipping on a mug of coffee and whiling away my day.”

His eyes are focused on the page but he nods slightly.

“Only four years to this date, you’d be thinking about this too. You’ll be done with your school and preparing for college already.”

“Right, four years,” he mumbles. “It’s all happening too quickly.”

I nod in agreement.

Leaning further back into my chair, I think of the glorious days of the year I had spent with my family. Each night, we’d sit at the dining table and hear Mom and Dad’s events in the office. Each morning, we’d wake up amidst hesitation and grogginess, wishing the darn alarm would let us sleep for five long minutes only. Each afternoon, we’d make ourselves steaming bowls of noodles and settle in front of the TV to watch a movie.

But all that is about to change. In a few months, I’ll be far away from this home. And it filled me with utter sorrow.

“And after college, you’ll return back?” he asks.

I shake my head slowly.

“It scares me,” I tell him. “After this, home is a far away thing. You have to stand up on your own, get yourself a job, live on your own, cook your food, wash your clothes. From this point on, I’ll be so far away.”

“It sure is happening too quickly,” he remarks.

“Every tomorrow that dawns, I want to go back. I really want the clock to stop. I want time to pause. Right now, it’s running too fast and I have yet to slowly lose myself in every moment. I want to touch everything and imprint its every crevice in my brain. I want to smell that musk of the attic and trap the scents in my brain. I want to make lasting memories so that I won’t miss all this so much.”

“I’ll miss you,” he says.

My lips quiver. My eyes feel heavy. And my heart holds a profound pain.

In that one moment that is weighing me down, I can only think of a dialogue from a favourite show of mine:

It is the oldest story in the world. One day you’re seventeen and planning for someday, and then quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today and that someday is yesterday and this is your life.”(One Tree Hill)

Silently, wiping the slight trail of a tear that had managed to escape, I turn around and look down at my books again.

“It’s late. Let’s study,” I say.

“One last question though,” my brother interrupts. “Is it really happening so quickly?”

I wish I could tell him otherwise.

Of Friends

He never understood why she had to look perfect. He never understood why she had to spend hours in the mall, shuffling through a thousand dresses. He never understood why she had spend so much time gazing at the rearview mirror of his car, trying to fix every strand of her hair. He never understood the girl that she became after stepping out of his car and entering the school premises. He never understood why she’d scurry off in another direction and leave him alone.

But the day he walked into the cafeteria and found her sitting amidst the bunch of popular kids in their grade, he understood why. He understood that she no longer wanted to be his friend. So, he stayed away.

Each day, he would see her walk past him, chattering merrily with her new friends. He would see her flashing smiles and laughing endlessly with them. But he could tell, those smiles were not hers. During lunch breaks, he would see her skip her meals along with the dozen other girls in their group. Every day after school, he would see her at the bleachers, cheering for some boy he didn’t know she knew.

He wanted to tell her to stop being the person she was not. He wanted to tell her that she looked all the more beautiful without the make-up. He wanted to tell her those people were not real – their fa├žades his a hundred truths. Their lives were not so perfect. The people they were were not the real them. He knew because he had been there.

But he kept quiet because clearly, she didn’t want to hear him.

One autumn evening, however, he met her on the street. Her hair was messy and her eyes gleamed. As they walked past each other, she held him back. Words never left her throat. Instead, she broke down next to him.

Amidst busy people and muffled voices, he held her as she cried. She spoke things which made no sense. Yet, he listened. Her shoulders fell and she sobbed against him.

The lights above then rippled below their feet on the slippery, gravel road, breaking into a million rays.

“Why?” she asked, her gaze burning into his. “I listened to them. I was there when they cried. But why was there no one when I needed them to be?”

How he wished he could tell her all the things he wanted to, ever since the day she left him! How he wished he could tell her about her friends’ sheltered lives! How he wished he could tell her all this and more without causing her more pain!

“You,” she continued in a broken voice, “are the only person who has always stayed by my side. But now, I’ve lost you, I guess. I was so stupid to leave you for them!”

He smiled, but inside, he was breaking.

“Everything about them is like a carefully scripted play,” she complained. “I don’t want to be them. I’m just happy being whoever I am.”

“They are nice people,” he said. “It’s just that, at times, they are misunderstood.”

Shock spread across her features.

“I know because once upon a time, I was one of them,” he spoke carefully. “I went from one party to another and drank till dawn. I laughed to jokes which were so bad. I did all that because I wanted to fit in in their group. The popular group. But half way down, I realized that there’s no such thing as that. I didn’t need to be in that group just to be popular. I could be popular in my own league!”

Amidst the bright city lights and increasing unrest, they sat in silence, thinking of things which made no sense.

“It’s getting late,” he spoke, first.

She nodded and stood up and began to walk.

A pang of sorrow ran through him. How he wanted his old friend back! He waited for her to turn around, but she never did. So, he turned and walked his way.

Only, she called him back.

“Did I really lose you?” she asked.

He didn’t know how to answer that one. So, he kept his back to her.

“Can we go back to being the friends we were? Will you forgive me this time, please?” she said.

He turned around and saw her smile.

“That’s what friends are for, after all,” he smiled too.

Of Expectations That Kill

Come March and I bet my parents’ blood pressures hike up drastically. It’s exam time and though children are supposed to be the ones facing the question papers, the parents are on a special marathon as well. They wake up with the child; they sit with them as they read; the house is ten decibels quieter as everyone seems to be speaking in hushed whispers and in short, it is as if someone has just died in the house! Indeed, someone has…

Think about the child for once. Do the parents have this much knowledge of what the child is going through? Waking up for late nights is no big deal, but do the parents carry that heavy burden of expectations that the child carries? Do they know that this load is slowly killing their children?

I think the biggest problem of our times is the tremendous amount of competition around. No doubt, competition pushes everyone to give their best, but in the same breath, there is no real learning because everyone is too busy, with their gazes focused on the finish line. Everyone wants to be a winner! And our universe, unfortunately, has a rule book that states that only one person can be the winner. But does that mean the person who comes last, is worthless? Does that mean the person who came second is not as good as the first? Does that mean the person with a broken leg never deserved to come first?

In the race to perfection, lies the problem.

I happened to read this in a very beautiful book : Each one of us, is born perfect.

And I agree with it. When children are born, there is absolutely no comparison. We don’t measure how loudly they cry or how many times they sneeze. We are plain happy. Period. And that implies, we all had once been, perfect!

It is when we start growing up, that comparisons begin. Suddenly it’s about how fast a child can grasp the alphabets and the other can’t! It’s about how quick one kid grows, but the other doesn’t! Comparison kills the perfection we had grown up with. And most of the parents, just wouldn’t accept that. If you are short, they’d ask you to play basketball! If you are dull in studies, they’d hire a hundred tutors! If you can’t draw, they’d send you to a class! In short, they can’t just accept the fact that each child has certain limits.

Just like everyone can’t dance or sing or paint, everyone can’t have perfect grades or a perfect personality or a perfect physique!

Why do we chase perfection? We are like this, and this is perfect! And why wouldn’t anyone understand that?

It gets particularly serious when a person reaches teenage. He/she is constantly compared and asked to become like someone else. My parents want me to become the best doctor. My neighbours want their son to become the best teacher. Why does everyone want the best? Why can’t average be just as good?

I happen to have arguments with my mum constantly, whenever she tells me to study else I can’t get anywhere in life. I ask her, why? Why do I need to get somewhere in life? Is it the sole purpose of life to get a fine job and have a fine house? Is it the sole motive and agenda of life?

She tells me that people have too many expectations from me. And the very realization, kills me from inside, just like it kills several other people in my place. It is scary. There’s always a nagging fear that if I don’t live up to their expectations, where will I be? Will people still like me?

What scares me even more is the fact that I’ve never let anyone down and it is only natural that people believe that I’ll shine again. But what if, what if I don’t? Don’t I stand a chance in the world? Will it be the end of the world?

Each night, I sit thinking of what might happen if I fail – fail to reach that mark they have set for me? I see nothing but frightening darkness. And the chill haunts me. It makes me want to breakdown and cry my heart out. Because that load of expectations is overwhelming. Each random person who I meet and who tells me, “You are a great student. You’ll do just fine!”, contributes to that load. If only they had known that I was nothing but an average student!

As I sit at my desk, writing down these random musings, I wonder of the many students who go through these depressing periods. Hope seems scarce. And in a moment of utter frenzy, it feels like everything is lost.

I tell my mum to worry less and to expect lesser. Instead, I tell her to hope. I ask her to hope that I do good, and not expect I reach perfection. To be honest, I don’t even know what is perfect perfect!

And I lean back on my chair and tell myself that even if I fail, it won’t be the end of the world. It won’t be.