Chaddha ji has a nephew. Sometimes I think he would have been a fine young man, had he not been Chaddha ji’s nephew. It’s not easy to grow up in the shadow of imbecile relatives, especially when they name you Shanty. ‘Do you know your name means a small, shack-like place where people live? It’s like my parents naming me 2BHK,’ one day I told Shanty, regretting my meanness almost immediately. It’s only when he replied something as senseless as ‘Wow, that would have made you Chinese’ that I remembered he’s from the Chaddha khandaan and felt okay about poking fun.
Anyway, Shanty gave his 12th standard exams this year and no one in his house has eaten ever since he got his results. ‘81% le aaya. Is se toh fail hi ho jaata,’ Chadha ji said. ‘81% are damn good marks. Bekaar hi aapke ghar mein paida ho gaya. Is se toh aatma ban ke float karta rehta,’ I replied. ‘Easy for you to say, since you’re settled in your career. Where will he get admission — Sanskrit Honours?’ he said.
I so wanted to ask Chaddha ji his own marks when he did schooling but realised that the comparison defeats the very point I so firmly believe in. That marks do NOT matter, no matter how much you shake your head at how impractical I’m being. It’s not that I advocate not giving your best in an exam.
On the contrary, I believe the only reason to appear in an exam is to judge your skills to see if you’ve bettered yourself in the process of growing-up in life. And so it’s important to take it up as a healthy challenge and give it with the aim of scoring your best. Please pay attention to the last two words — YOUR BEST.
What we’ve turned its definition into, is a means to compare one student against the other. So you have someone scoring a 99.6% (banging my head on the wall), who, by the way, has every right to be ecstatic, but because he’s scored his personal best ever, not because he’s scored better than one lakh Shantys whose parents are making their lives hell by quoting his example. Anyway, this gyan will fall on many a deaf ear, as we’ve not unlearned enough to realise that nothing can be worse than judging the worth of yourself or your children on the basis of a mark sheet that comes out of a process invented by some sadist Chaddha ji decades ago.
Practical baat karte hain. So, the results got declared a couple of weeks ago. The rona-dhona must have stopped by now. Or maybe replaced by the rona-dhona of admissions. See, I said rona dhona because everyone cries – the one who scored 61%, the one who got 81%, even the one who scored 91%; the one who didn’t get through a regular college, the one who didn’t get the college of his choice, and even the one who did not get the course of his choice. Do you see the irony? The only constant seems to be a short-lived disappointment. And the only key to calmness is to realise the temporariness of it all. It’s totally how you look at the previous sentence.
You’re stressed if you focus on the word ‘disappointment’, you’re relaxed if you focus on the phrase ‘short-lived’. Chalo, just a few quick tricks...
1 Pick up a pen and paper. Write ‘Kuchh toh ban hi jayenge, draw a smiley, and stick it up on your room’s wall. Rishtedaar zyada stress dein, toh no need to waste your energy in giving lengthy explanations of what you are aspiring to become. The more you think, the more you explain for every chacha chachi, the more stressed you’ll become. Simply point to this phrase and let it be your mantra. See, if you look around, there are very few people, in fact none if you look closely, jo life mein kuchh bhi nahi baney. The ones unhappy with their career are mostly those who have chosen to be unhappy with their lives. Why compare yourself with them. Rest everyone gets their space under the sun.
2 There are so many new course and career options these days that it’s mind-boggling. If you just open up your mind and horizons, I’d like to think that you’re more spoilt for choice than any previous generation. Heck, someone I know is a professional dog-walker and makes good money out of taking eleven dogs for a walk every day while their owners are too lazy to step-out. Could we have thought of such a career ten years back? Please don’t start kidnapping your neighbour’s dog and dreaming of ransom after this, but what I’m trying to tell you is that this is the age of being innovative and smart, not being foolish to give yourself grief over not getting through a course that would’ve given you a hefty placement, packaged with a super stressful lifestyle for the rest of your years. Kuchh toh ban hi jaoge yaar, tension lena band karo.
3 Don’t fall into the trap of anyone — even your parents — who tries to promise you conditional happiness. It starts with get into a good school and life’s a breeze for twelve years. No it’s not. In tenth standard, you’d be told that slog just for the next two years that are critical, get good marks, and then life’s bliss. No, it’s not. You get into college, you’ll be told to study well just for four years to get into a good career, and life’s set. No it’s not. Once you get into a career, specially one that’s not of your own choice but dictated by marks, trends, relatives and society, life gets into a whole new roller coaster of stress. Sooner than you realise, you’d be the one telling your three-year-old, ‘Bas yahan nursery admission ho jaye, then life is set.’ Life never gets set on these things. Don’t waste these moments by fretting and stressing. God has a plan for you. You just need to remember ‘kuchh toh ban hi jayenge’.
Sonal Kalra wonders which genius invented the monstrous term ‘cut-off’. It’s so apt, she wants to apply it on Chaddha ji. Literally. Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonal.kalra. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra