The Curious Case of my Sister

The Curious Case of my Sister

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Last night, I came to know that my cousin sister was suffering from depression. When my aunt narrated the whole case to me, I felt anger, worry and disgust at the same time for various things and people.

She is in her junior high school final year. Her final exams are going to decide her fate for high school admissions. Apart from the fact that those exams were necessary for her further studies, they got her into clinical depression. However, the exams were not the only reason for her illness. There were other reasons involved too.

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When I had last met her, she was doing her homework. Out of curiosity, I peeked into her work. She was writing word-to-word, punctuation-to-punctuation from the textbook into her notebook!

I asked her if she was given any punishment or what, that she was copying each letter out of the textbook.

She replied that this was the way they taught at her School. It was a general practice to write the whole chapter two times word-to-word from textbook. So that they could remember the whole text and answer any question they might ask in exams!

At that time, I had pointed out that it was not a correct approach and that she should work more on understanding the concept than on scoring marks in exams.

My sister replied that her School and her Board/University expects Students to write exactly the way the textbook prints. If they wanted a good score, they had to mug up the textbook to score good. Writing answers in their own way would only give them passing marks or even less. And if they don’t get good marks, they won’t get admission to reputed colleges/institutions. The degrees and certifications won’t be that valuable while competing for job in big companies, as they shortlist candidates based on their final score.

This highlights a serious problem with the education system in our country and the systems dependent on it.

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While her teaching approach was as useless as her teachers, another thing that got her into depression was lack of rest. I got to know her daily schedule from her mother.

– Wake up at 5 am
– 7 am to 12 School
– 12 to 2 pm Extra Classes and Tests at School
– 3 pm Reach home for her first regular meal of the day
– 4 to 6 pm Tuitions
– Reach home and start working on homework (such as copying of whole textbook) from School and Tuitions till late night 11-12.
– Then go to sleep dreaming about tomorrow’s day at school, taunts from teachers when she’s not able to recite word-by-word from the textbook and the test.

And after this hectic schedule, she was not even able to understand the practical implications of what she was studying! Her teachers would first humiliate her in front of the whole class and then call her parents, if she didn’t complete her homework or couldn’t recite the textbook fluently. And her teacher wouldn’t accept any other answer or concept suggested by other authors, but only the things written in their textbook.

—–

So the reasons that caused her depression were hectic schedule, pressure from teachers and school, pressure from society and future, illogical and orthodox educational and evaluation system and ignorance by parents.

I see our educational system going on a wrong direction of marks-based evaluation. Several tests, semesters and projects are loaded onto the over-occupied minds of students and then they are pressurized to score well. Competition among the students adds to the pressure and the silent support from parents serves as a multiplying factor.

So what can be done about it? Anything at all?

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A Year of Papyrophobia

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After almost one year of booklessness, I started reading again…

Few years back, I was pursuing this professional course, which required a little too much reading on my part. By the time I had completed the course, I felt so much annoyed whenever I had to read anything on paper. Forget about reading a book, I couldn’t even read a newspaper. I had even stopped peaking in to what someone else’s reading while sitting in the bus. I switched over to my phone for all the reading that I needed. I had completely dumped all the papers from my life. You can even say that I had almost behaved like having Papyrophobia.

And then I got in to IT industry, which was almost paperless work. It took me almost a year to recover from that phobia and to accept reading books again.

Yesterday, I started reading a book, and guess what! All the memories started flooding in my mind. All the books that I had read, the feeling when you flip through those pages, trying to know more and more of what’s written inside and constantly thinking about what the author would serve you with on pages to come…

I remembered and practiced all my reading styles – sitting, sleeping, upside-down hanging, walking, above-the-cupboard reading, laying-on-the-grass reading, sitting-on-the-water-tank reading… (Yeah they will sound more than just weird, but that’s me… :P)

I read the book constantly for about an hour and then I realized how much I missed it. How much I wanted to read those books I had planned to read for all the time! How many books I had in my wishlist…!

Reading makes you think and interpret and try to guess what the author would’ve wanna say, and then think over it again and again. Reading gives you so much of new information, increases your vocabulary and even is a nice pass time – a minimal effort activity even. Reading is exploration, reading is imagination, reading is going beyond boundaries, reading is finding yourself… Reading is fun.

But when I thought over it, it was a little difficult to read now, after a long pause. Not due to the pause, but due to the way our lifestyle has changed over these years…

Earlier I used to charge my phone once in four-five days, and now I have to charge it twice a day – not that the battery is bad, but my usage has increased a lot. My idle time, which earlier was occupied with reading or writing some stuff, now goes wasted in checking people’s status updates online.

I used to love reading stories and used to read them (almost) over a go… But now, that is replaced with watching movies. I seldom “try” to read anything, b’cuz probably all of it is available either in verbal or visual form and I don’t want to put more efforts in getting the information.

So have you felt this way lately? Do you see a change overtaking us, a change in the pattern we spend our time? Apart from wasting it at office and sleeping, do we have started wasting it over those screens?

So I would suggest you people, put your smartphones aside and go out do something “real”… you might be surprised what you have had missed for all this time you were looking on that screen 😉

As they say, a phobia is only in our head. Just do it and the phobia is gone…

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15 January 2014 [Part 1]

15 January 2014. A “BIG DAY” that had, and will, place a remarkable mark in my life. This day is the birthday of three of my buddies, this day brought tears to many people associated with me, to some tears of happiness and to others in grief.

It was a morning as usual. Nothing so special about it, except that it was the result day for the final exams of the professional course I was pursuing. People I know (actually people who know me) compare me with the mighty devil from Ramayana – ‘Kumbhakaran’. He was cursed that he would be sleeping for six months and eating for balance six months. And people were almost right in comparing me with the devil. Because all I ever wanted was peaceful sleep and satisfying food. That made me happy…

It was almost 10 am. Mum shouted “Get up! Meet! Come on! It’s 10!’ I barely gave her any response. I tried to move but the laziness so crept inside me restricted all my nerves to move even an inch.

Mum gave another try “Get up now! Remember? It’s your result today!?” I said “Yeeessss…’ And went back to sleep, I tried getting up, but failed again, tried one more time, failed yet again, tried one last time, failed miserably. So I finally decided to continue sleeping. But then I remembered…

It was my buddy(s)’s birthday! Yes, it was birthday of three of my friends. I got up straight at once, reached for my phone, and dialed their numbers, one by one. I wished them birthday(s) and started thinking about what happened just a few minutes back. (No! Not that I got up at once to wish but not when my mum was shouting for about an hour! No! Because I was back to my favorite place, my bed, inside the blanket!) I was thinking that the people whom I wished birthday were more interested in one thing I didn’t notice, my result! ‘Oh god! I forgot!’ Were my facial expressions!

I instantly reached for my phone again, typed in the web address to check for result. It was today, but still not ‘declared’. I worried for a while, but then, sleeping was always a comforting option. I was back to my sleeping business…

In the sleep I dreamt about the day before yesterday, when me & my friends went for a movie. I dreamt it little bit differently, making circumstances favouring me… 😉

My phone rang abruptly. I got up quickly (not that I was scared, but the ring was that special one which I had allotted for my special one…) I wished good morning in my usual sleepy tone. But the voice I heard back transformed me from a state of peace to a state of worry and fear! She was crying…!

“Give me your roll number…” I did as I was asked to. She shouted in exclamation that I had cleared my final and I was one of “them” now. But I was more interested in her result. She had not been able to clear one group of two because of deficit of just 6 marks in aggregate. It was devastating for me! I had always wished otherwise…

We talked a few awkward minutes and then disconnected. I quickly messaged her comforting lines (least I could do…) And then it came to me. I shouted “MUMMMMMAAAAAAAAA! Results have been declared..! And I passed!!!” Mum came running to my room, her eyes were filled with tears of utmost happiness! She hugged me tight and ran away to tell my dad. And I went for my usual morning stuff…

When I finished my stuff, I went to check my phone. There were 38 missed calls and about a hundred messages. All were either enquiring about my result or were telling me my result. I murmured “Plz! Why so much fuss?” And replied to all calls and messages and attended to a few more calls and messages. I came to know for another time that there were people who cared for me…

Dad came running from his office, there was again a smile on his face and tears in his eyes. He hugged me, congratulating me for my fruitful efforts. I could almost see pride in my parents’ eyes! I was delighted… After all, the reason I did all that hard work was to see this only! I was almost on the verge of crying when something brought a laugh out of my mouth…

I was checking my marks in individual subjects. Paper X (As we would call it here) marks were just equal to the requirement of passing the subject. I laughed out loud because it has always been like that. Even in the intermediate exams I got the same border line marks in the same subject. One thing was well understood by me – the subject was not made for me! 😀

After that I went to temple to thank God for his blessings and luck (yes luck plays important role in life). I thanked him for the first time in my life (wholeheartedly) because he helped me in bringing that pride on my parents’ faces. That was all I had ever wanted…

When I came back, my day had just started. I had to complete so many tasks in this one day and return back from my hometown to my workplace the next day for continuing training sessions which had a three days break for festive reasons. So it was a busy day for me. Completing the tasks while attending to all the calls and messages was a tough job. Keeping that same expression of happiness and thankfulness on my face and in my voice was aweful when the environment around you is so engrossed in screwing you all over!

Then too I managed all the tasks, except for dealing with one of the government personnel. You can clear 100 such exams easily but can’t get your work done through a government official (of course I’m talking about the legal way…) When I reached home, I was left with only two hours to my return journey. My mini-vacation was over. Leaving home, leaving my mum dad alone was so difficult for me, that I always cried while in the bus. Today too, I would be crying… (Even if it was supposed to be a “happy” day for me…!)

I was packing while listening to what mum was talking to other people and what dad was talking to others. And both of that scared me! People were so interested in me all of a sudden. Even I received calls from people who didn’t even reply to my messages once! Some even asked about my age, interests and past relationships! People are so selfish!!

While I tolerated these “proposals” and ‘offline talks’, there were people who were genuinely happy for me! (I love them all!) Thank god I’ve a few people whom I can call friends indeed! Very few lucky ones get real friends in this world… I talked to all of them. They teased me with “that” salutation (which I so hate! Cartoon Artist!) They asked for celebration party(s). I calculated my estimated expense that I may have to incur to satisfy these party demands. (Yes my professional mind had started working 😛 )

[ I would like to put in here about my sissy cum best friend… She always said that she “knows” that I’ll get through the first time itself! She had full faith on me even when I didn’t! I love her, just love her so much… Then just the day before, I went to temple and there the priest said this “Maro Nath Betho 6e to Maro Lalo Kevi Rite Fail Thay!!” (In Gujarati) I’ll never forget his words…

The most important person who prayed for me all the time was my Nanima… She always wanted to see me fly (not literally guys!) Whenever she prayed, she prayed for my wellbeing. And if god has helped me this time, I’m sure it is because she told him to. Because otherwise, god & me are not that cooperating with each other…

Then were my friends! Who shouted my name with pride and happiness! Who jumped in joy more than me! Who were happy more than me! (Of course they wanted party in return ;-p )

And above all, my parents’ blessings have always helped me in any quest in my life. My mum dad who want nothing but my happiness, have always been so, I dunno how can we describe ‘parents’. I don’t think there would be any word for that in dictionary even!]

My packing was done. Actually I never have to pack anything when I return from home. It is always like take one get one free! If I take two bags to home, I would be returning with three bags…! So was this time. I went with just a backpack. And had to return with two. So I stuffed inside all the things which I may need. While packing, all I thought was about the future. (No not what work would I do! No! How boring!) I thought what would happen when I’ll meet all the people I described above… My best friend, friends, classmates, relatives, colleagues and bosses…

Continued in Part 2…

15 January 2014 [Part 2]

…Continued from Part 1…

Finally my moment of departure had come. I gave my packing final TouchUp. I was tired a lot and wanted to go sleep as soon as I get a chance to sit on my seat in the transportation. I took my parents blessings and left for a journey, not just the 300 km travel, but also the journey of life as nothing now would be the same as before, except for my childishness… 😉

I thought of sleeping as soon as I get seat, but now I came to know that the day was after all, not so much easy for me! After waiting for about an hour I came to know that the buses I had to aboard were cancelled. Now I had to take any local mode for travelling. I choose ‘Chhota Haathi’…

I knew that now the journey won’t be comfortable in first place. The capacity of the van was about 10 persons, and we seated 22 plus a driver. I dunno who was sitting on whom and on whom I was… All I knew was that I had to sit like this for next 2 hours, after which I would change the transportation. While I never imagined what these two hours would be like, but they gave me many points to ponder upon which probably I used to ignore till date.

I was sitting with my head down. People entered the van one by one. It filled gradually to the number I mentioned earlier. Various kind of human beings were around me. I listened to there conversations and found out those phases of life that I was totally unaware of…

There was an uncle with his niece on my left. They were talking about how they had lost 80 bucks by travelling in this private van rather than in government buses. I listened further and found that he worked in those government bus service and so was privileged to use its services as per his convenience, and that too, free! Today as bus got cancelled they had to spend these money and travel in such inconvenience! I wondered how people can be so irresponsible and careless towards their duties and values and not respect their citizenship! How people can be so!

There was a couple behind me with four kids. They were discussing about how would they get enough money to live that month and how would they pay for medicines for the younger child who suffered from some disease. I thought why people ‘produce’ so much in excess if they can’t maintain such ‘stock’ in healthy condition and provide them their basic humanly needs!

There were 3 young girls in my front left side. They were discussing about some serial and about their bosses, none of which concerned or entertained me. All of a sudden, the music player in the van started playing. The songs were weird! I couldn’t understand a word, nor did I enjoy the tune! So I head-downed again…

After a while, the three girls climbed down the van. A new couple entered. They looked poor and had worn torn out clothes. They were totally untidy and for them, bathing was probably a yearly exercise! I looked up in the sky in anguish. The little boy who was totally dirty with hands and mouth full of particles left over after eating something, and even had a running nose…

As the van continued moving, I felt the cool breeze flowing through my insides and it soothed me internally. The music changed to new songs which were at least bearable! And how my mindset changed from disgust to humanly love for those around me amazed me!

Earlier, just before a few minutes, when the boy touched me or bruised my pants with his dirty hands, I shifted my legs and showed the most ugly and disgusted face I could with my resources. The talks of the uncle and his niece were annoying and the concerns of couple behind me were senseless. But as time passed I watched that young boy play in front of me with wind, look and shout at the birds flying with the van. I watched him looking at the road passing fast. I remembered myself in childhood looking at the road and wondering how the road was shifting so fast beneath us! Now I know that it is the car moving, but I saw the same me 10 years back when I saw that boy (excluding the dirtiness…)

I was listening to the music peacefully. And the boy in front of me was asleep now, his head moving to and fro as per the movement of van. Then he woke all of a sudden and then slept in his parent’s lap. I wondered that what mistake did he commit that people look at him in disgust as I was looking at him just a few minutes back! Why don’t they do something instead of just twitching their faces! If we don’t help them, how are they supposed to uplift themselves!

The boy shifted his head from his parent’s lap to my lap. I didn’t find it annoying this time! I just watched him sleeping there peacefully… I wondered would I sleep so peacefully if I had been there at his place!? Probably not!

I’m not saying that “be satisfied”, “Love what you’ve got”, “don’t complain”, “respect others” cuz they have not got what you have and blah blah blah! No! That’s all bullshit! If they have not got, that’s there destiny! Why should we take the blame and disrespect our destiny! Instead we should keep on asking for more and keep on accumulating the riches of the world! There’s no harm in it. There’s harm if you stop running if someone else is not walking! Instead we should keep on running and drag that person even, who is not able to! I’m just saying that do something and not just think about it, wasting your precious time! (For instance, I taught that boy ABCD while on road in the tune of the song that was playing… And he loved it! His parents were thankful and probably desired to send him to school, but couldn’t. There I could do nothing. So that doesn’t mean that I should stop going to school! I did what I could in 2hrs journey. Like that if we all do what we can (and not wht we dream!), imagine the outcome…

I reached the stop from where I’d get a direct bus to my workplace. There when I got into the bus, someone was shouting aloud that his legs weren’t into comfortable position when the person sitting ahead him pushed his seat into sleeping position. They argued too much and all others started to blame the person that this is the way whole bus is sleeping! (Including me…) He argued for a while and switched his seat besides me. Now that he was sitting next to me, I explained him how he would have been comfortable if he had followed just a few steps! He argued back, this time with much lower force and low volume in his tone, that the seat he was sitting on earlier is not the same as this one now! I looked above his shoulders towards the seat and compared with mine. I was shocked to see that the seat was actually having less space and would definitely be uncomfortable. I agreed with that person and he obliged that finally his arguments were accepted by someone. But I started wondering, how come everyone in the bus never even looked at the seat and started arguing against the person! How come no one even bothered to check his position, why was it taken for granted that his arguments were false!

All these questions, that I asked in this post have been asked a million times and no fruitful answer is yet discovered. I’m not asking the same questions here again. Instead I’m questioning those who question these questions…

Why do we do such things when we know we are wrong or when we don’t know that opposite person is wrong!?

This day was, absolutely, big for me! It gave me happiness along with mournful sadness, various lessons and several aspects of life that can be improved upon! It was a new beginning or an awakening…

What if I cleared?!

 

I am pursuing a professional course wherein the pass percentage all over the country comes in a single digit. So you’ll understand there’s a tremendous pressure on us before the exams, during the exams and even after the exams till the results come. (And the pressure doesn’t even wears off after we pass because the industry is such, even after studying hard for these 5 years at a stretch, you’ll have to price yourself so that you may be accepted in the market, it is not that you clear and, bingo you get paid…) So our life, sort of, becomes a pressure-cooker! In which every now and then whistle blows up relieving our inner bubbled feelings or erupting out the silent volcano.

Anyways, the most crucial period is the time between your completion of exam and the results been awaited. It’s the time when you can either make for you a perfect life or you can blow away everything that you’ve got.

At this point everyone would be praying, dreaming and planning about what the result would be. Some people might be just enjoying the free time. But all of them would be having a mental trauma which never allows them to have a peaceful sleep at night. Everyone of them, at least at some point of time in the day, think about the same and fear the uncertainty of the result, and ever the consequences if they fail!

In all these scary thoughts, people get time to enjoy themselves and chill with those dear ones, friends, whom we have so avoided during past 6 months! We almost feel sorry that avoiding them actually didn’t have any effect on our studies and consequently won’t have effect on out result. But still, with the constant pressure from our parents (not in my case), teachers (hell yes) and people at office (screw them!), and even our imaginary people called ‘society’! All of them haunts us so heavily, that we accept sacrificing everything that we have in order to get that stupid certificate! And we never understand that was it worth it?! (The standard saying “We value things only when they’re gone!” But no one has ever told us to value things that we don’t even have yet!)

All in all, people usually think about the future in this break. But I was different. I feared the future too, but not that if I fail! What if I passed!? This fear haunted me more than anything has ever!

I made a simple mind-map of the consequences that might arise if I cleared the exam. And to my astonishment, I was unhappy in every situation! If I fail, that was obvious, but even if I passed, I was miserable!

If I passed what would happen? My family and friends would be happy! But I won’t because I never felt happy of my academics achievements, don’t know why! But always felt like that’s just like we eat or bath or sleep, we study also! No big deal!!

What would happen then? I would be expected to find a good job! Looking to the current situation in the market, the population, the unemployment and people’s mindset, it was very difficult to find a good job without sacrificing something (be it money, place, relations, time or respect!) And all were important for me! And even if I got a good job, I won’t be satisfied ever! Because ultimately, I would be supposed to do the same boring work relating my profession every single day for the rest of my life! Nothing creative, no innovation but just application! What’s so great about it!! I start feeling bores just by hearing the word “work” (I won’t use the word here!). What would happen if I become one!?!

And after getting employed, there are millions of expectations, requirements and obligations! I have to at least earn that much so that I can at least cover my fixed expenses! (Break-even point) and what if in this economy where price rise is as common as day and night, will I be able to survive with that break-even income! What would happen to my family then!

And finally, you start getting proposals for your own death celebration! (They call it marriage.) Marriage, the biggest blunder, the ultimate time (life, actually) waste, the thing that is hell scary all in itself! And no matter how many problems there are in this marriage, but you HAVE to do it!! Thus, marriage becomes your headache all by itself! (Why so? I’ll write about it soon..)

When you’re are able to recover from this again a haunt comes in form of Regulations and rules of the institution I’ll be part of! If you go through the whole “code” thing, you’ll find that they are actually telling you to stop “living” and just concentrate your whole life on “work”! We can’t follow our hobbies, we can’t publish our names, our art or our contribution in creativity in this world! Actually the course is so marvelously designed that it kills your creativity and makes a person a total bore and antisocial!!

Besides, you never actually stop studying in my profession, with every change in the calendar, there is change in the data based on which you are supposed to work! You will never have time to do anything else in this world! But just you and your work! I’ve seen people in my profession who meet their own children once a year on their birthdays ‘cuz, when children are home, person is at office and when he returns home, they are already deep asleep! In the morning again the same situation that one is asleep and other had to go to work, whatever it may be! Some are even unlucky enough that they can’t even meet their family on occasions like birthday or new year! What’s the use of such profession that you can’t even live your life happily, screw what the profession accounts in country’s growth! Everyone who is working will contribute anyway!

And when we finally are able to overcome such fears, we hear stories of successful people who have not even studied their graduations! (You would say that they have to work hard other ways, true, but at least they are free to do what they want in their own way!) (Not like us that we even have code for how we speak or write or behave!)

And if you ask all these points to others who are already in the profession, they would surely deny these ‘facts’! ‘Cuz it is too late for them to have fulfill their childhood fairy-dreams! And they want that others too should not be able to as they have not! Bloody sadists, not by nature, but by effect of time the profession has upon them! Don’t blame them…

And so engrossed in such fears I try to live my life “normally”, just then, there are millions of people in this world who keep on asking me how was your exam, what are you planning to do after result, what is your goal, what would you like to do, etc. Questions..! Let me tell you what I’d like to do – I’d like to punch him in his face and kick his butt! My all efforts to forget my fears are wasted by these kind of people who just “casually” come and screw me!

What would happen if I clear my exams? Umm… Who cares!!