Education plays a vital role in shaping your thoughts and making you a successful person. But, there lies a stark contrast between acquiring genuine education and spending hours and hours looking over the pages of books that don’t interest you. I didn’t know it back then.
It was the year 2016 when I pursued my first board examination. The board examination for the 10th standard is considered the first mega battle of anyone’s life/career in India — and yes, it is a rubbish dogma, but Indians do believe in that. I was an unaware fella back then, ignorant of the things that could help me do well in my life, only hopeful of achieving good marks on paper.
I would read all day and night, even wake up early around 5 or 6 in the morning, and spend sleepless nights, with just one ambition rearing in my head, “I have to get better marks in this exam. Otherwise, no one would value me.”
And it is true to some extent. Even if you are a decent guitarist, dancer, writer, painter, or sportsman, you are a failure in the eyes of the so-called sophisticated people in our society unless you get good marks in board exams. Can you imagine, here in India, a family’s recognition in society hinges on whether their boy or girl gets A+ or C+ in the board exams?
If your son gets an A+ in the board exam, you are deemed to be great as a parent — the upbringing of your child has been brilliant — thus making you a successful father and mother. But if things go south with results, you are seen as a disappointment and are treated as the worst being alive on this planet. Being a student, you are doomed to feel sorry for your mom and dad. And what follows is a miserable situation that no student or their parents should ever be experiencing.
Thanks to my studious and attentive brain, I was able to get good marks in the 10th standard. I performed well, amassing a percentage of over 80 in total. I don’t remember the marks precisely because it has become so irrelevant to me right now that the numbers don’t hold any weight inside my brain. Nonetheless, the marks were good but not enough, according to some of my relatives.
Anyway, my parents were moderately happy. They would call the known ones to inform them of my “success” in my life’s first high-octane combat. Seeing them smile, I would feel the oomph of the occasion as well. A few days passed quickly. I was enjoying unexpected stardom in and around my locality—everyone would look at me with their glittering eyes. Their glare used to make me shy and nervous.
In India, there are multiple mind-boggling traditions—yes, in regard to studies as well. One of such traditions is if you get over 70 per cent in your 10th standard, you are bound to take “Science” as your stream for further studies in the 11th and 12th standards. Why not Arts? Why not Commerce? To be honest, I don’t know the answer. I have thought of it many times over these years. But I have never managed to come to a conclusion as to why Indians hold so much fascination towards the Science stream over others. I believe it is the social validation that comes with its name — it is believed that being a student of the Science group means you have done something meaningful in life. But it should not be the case, as I realised during my two-year journey as a student of Science.
Following the students acquiring 70+ per cent in their 10th board exams, I took Science, unaware of what it really meant at that time. My mother would say, “my son is studious, he would be perfect for Science.” I failed to gauge back then that being studious has nothing to do with Science.
I was so happy. Fulfilling my potential in the 10th board exam and making my parents proud, I embarked on the journey of class 11 with rejuvenating confidence. The first few months faded away in an abrupt manner as I was trying to cope with the burden of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology.
I have always liked English as a subject. My journey of learning English has its own exciting tale, but it is a story for another day. I have been interested in doing something around English from a very early age. My parents do not know this, but I even chose to join the Science stream after knowing that I would simultaneously get to learn English as a compulsory subject. I love learning the language.
The list of subjects in my higher education (in classes 11 and 12) included Bengali, English, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology. As far as the notion was set, Bengali was my first language, and English was my second.
So, as mentioned earlier, I spent the first few months making friends with the syllabus of the Science stream. The good marks in the 10th board exam did not help me at all. Instead, the continuous care and superstar-like attention that I was getting from the parents of my friends, neighbours, and relatives, thanks to the number I had accumulated in my 10th standard, made me feel so luxurious that I felt I could overcome everything. Even landing on the moon seemed a trivial task to me back then. I was living a life full of illusion.
Sometime during my days in the 11th standard, the idea of becoming a doctor crossed my path, finally! I was told that the life of a doctor belongs to the sea of indulgence and all — the regular stuff you get to hear about a job that pays you good money. Becoming a doctor — the idea fascinated me. Or it would be right for me to say that the money and recognition that, I got to hear, come with the job lured my attention. But you need to crack some entrance exams to become a doctor, and it is freaking hard. “But, no worries, I have gone through harder exams, I could do it again,” I would tell my mind.
Soon, I asked my father to buy me some new, expensive books for my preparation for the medical exams. And without saying a word, he followed my instructions. Both my father and mother would have loved to see me become a doctor.
I was studying good and hard, but somehow, the Science-orientated subjects stopped grabbing my interest as I passed the test held in the 11th standard. With me, there is a strange thing. I tend to forget the things that cease to fascinate me. The same did happen to me during my days as a science student.
I was just attending tuitions but was not learning anything. Under the pressure of becoming a doctor, I would forget to count my time. It turned out to be a monotonous life for me. I was doing the same stuff, attending the classes, and reading some boring words every day. It had become a rollercoaster ride if I am being completely honest with you. Remembering those days while writing this piece, I am seriously feeling strangulated.
I had gradually lost my childhood friends, all joy, my time, my time with my parents, and my love for watching football. In all, I had lost my social life completely to meaningless studies. I would shout at my mother even if she had not done anything wrong. It was the complexity inside my head, coupled with the enormous pressure of racking up good numbers in the 12th standard, that was forcing a change in my personality.
Finally, the judgement day arrived.
I got an average grade in my 12th board exam, known as the higher secondary. After getting the result of the 12th board, I was so heartbroken. I had good numbers in Bengali and English, but not the same could be said for my Science subjects, which were my main categories in the stream I had taken.
In the medical entrance exam too, I failed badly and did not obtain the mark I had previously expected. My parents and relatives lost all faith in me. And I got pushed to a darker place. I don’t wish anyone in this world to go through the same horrendous experience. It was the worst of all feelings.
In two years as a science student, I did learn nothing, absolutely nothing, no science stuff. It was a wasted span of two years for me. My existence as a Science student proved to be erroneous, and what a failure those two years were!
But I still believe that I am where I am today because of those heart-wrenching experiences.
They say we learn from failures. In my opinion, they are right.
After those two years, I resurrected like a phoenix, and now making you listen to me, haha! How did I do it? Let’s discuss that next week!