I congratulate the parents and elders whose children are free to choose a career, for they have understood the meaning of "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink" and also the other proverb: "You can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy."
On the other hand, there are adamant people who just won't get the message, even if you explain it to them 10 more times why this freedom is important. Clearly, Aamir Khan movies "3 Idiots" and "Taare Zameen Par" haven't inspired them. That's why each year after Class 10, many students are confused about career, and after Class 12, still have no clue. Some of my cousins and neighbours are in the same boat. They walk the thorny path I had to tread.
Ask me what all I did not face. More than my family, my relatives and neighbours were curious to know what stream I wanted to take; and were always keen to give me advice without my asking. They were ready with it, whenever or wherever I met them. "Get into medical, or at least non-medical," they'd say, without ever knowing my interest and aptitude.
The situation turned worse as my Class-10 examinations came to an end. They were now calling up my parents to tell them about the neighbours and relatives whose sons had been in medical or engineering and what big pay cheques they now earned. They brainwashed my father and he got after me to take the medical stream; but I never conceded. My heart was in arts, even though everyone laughed at the choice.
At weddings, they'd introduce me to successful doctors and engineers, and if I mentioned where my interest lay, they'd pull a face, shocked as if learning arts was a crime. It was a court scene, where I faced many advocates and judges, and always failed to present my case. At one point, to put a stop to the daily mental torture, I thought of stepping into the medical or engineering stream, but thanks to some of my teachers that I blocked all other voices except of my heart. One of them said: "You'll never do well in a stream in which you lack interest."
Had I not taken the advice, I'd be hopping streams within a few months. I know it happens every year to so many students, who are changing course even after the summer holidays. Picking a career is simple; it is we who make it complex. A bird can never fly on one wing, and life can't be fun doing what you dislike. French Nobel Prize winning author and journalist Albert Camus wrote: "Without work, all life goes rotten, but when work is soulless, life stifles and dies."
The writer is an HT staff correspondent based in Ludhiana