This story begins in 2012, when yours truly was a kid busy ruining his eleventh grade. Prior to that, he used to be pretty good in academics, used to participate in co-curricular activities, and had the image of a good kid. The kind of kid whom your parents (If you had an average – middle-class pair at home) might have made you hate, by constantly comparing your grades and performance with his.
However, I ruined my 11th. Though I tried to understand the math chemistry and all those intricacies, it really wasn’t working. The undemocratic, authoritative academic environment in the coaching classes kept me out of them. And the fun and friendship in school, kept me away from academics. While my friends were in coaching classes, I was following the political and philosophical controversies and conversations in the Malayalam Facebook world. I did not fail it, I survived. Just that.
Another year passed, and the only development I had made was that I had started reading Frontline, and The Hindu.
That day came, when the results of the twelfth grade exams were to come. I knew what was going to happen, I was prepared for the worst. (At least I thought that way). However, it did not happen. I did not fail. I survived again. As expected, the marks were poor, very poor. Below 80%.
Though I felt relieved that I didn’t have to run behind the supplementary examinations and spend more time studying the things I already failed at, it indeed was a shock to some. First in the list – my parents.
They did not scold me. They didn’t engage in physical violence. But they had something worse for me – silence. There was a sense of disappointment on their face they came to talk to me.
It was difficult for them too, to face their colleagues, neighbors and everyone around. Everyone would ask them about my future plans. – “So a doctor or an engineer?” And how would they answer? Phrases like ‘He is still figuring out’ or ‘He is thinking about Humanities’ tied to an insincere smile. Though I haven’t witnessed it personally, I could picture them very well in that situation. I have seen other parents like that.
My social life did get affected. I didn’t want to face my friends. Some who made it to medical and engineering rank lists in the first chance itself. Those who made it to IITs. These things were once in my dream as well. There was a sense of inferiority creeping in – something I never thought would happen to me. Arjun was many things, inferior was not one of them.
During all those difficult times, there was a person who I always ran into. Vishnuettan. I had met him on facebook. A complete stranger when we first met, a friend request that I accepted with a lot of doubt. But with two year of acquaintance, he had become more than a friend to me. He was 6-7 years elder, had seen more life, and had been though more in life.
He told me that it’s alright. It was different from others who said the same thing. Unlike others, he meant what he said. He was not sympathising. It was not ritualistic. I could feel that in his voice, when we talked for hours. He took time to talk to me about the opportunities I had. He helped me figure out what I wanted to do. He helped me realise my potential. He made me believe that it was still not over for me.
When I said that I was going to take up law, he supported me. Though initially hesitant, parents also supported.
It still wasn’t over. The same uncles and aunts who gave sympathetic looks when the results came would look at me awfully and ask “Law?”, and would continue with sarcasm – “So learning the art of lying?”. Dealing with them taught me the art of not giving a damn. Not giving a damn when those who have zero genuine concerns about your well being ask you your marks. Not giving a damn when people judge your choices.
Six years up the lane, here I am. Nearing course completion at one of the country’s elite National Law Universities . Having secured admission for a wonderful postgraduate programme. Started an organisation. Helped people. Impacted lives.
Created reasons to be contend when I look back. And that, my friend, is all that matters.