“You shall all start climbing the tree when the gunshot is fired”, said the lion pointing towards the Banyan tree. “Only those who manage to reach the top shall be permitted to have food”. The monkey, elephant, fox, bird and the snake got ready for the competition as they waited for the gunshot. I remember reading “Our Education System” at the end of this cartoon strip and laughing my eyes out. It was one of those Internet memes, which you see everyday but do not remember for long, usually. This one was different – probably owing to its simplicity, or owing to the fact that how such a simple truth was also horrifying.
Think about it? How hard can it be to see that the mode of gauging our students is not even close to ideal, despite our best efforts to appear so? Human beings are individually so different - and hence it becomes extremely hard to fit them all into a single scale. Like always, we have found easy ways out - found things that are either hard or ‘practical’ (read money-making) – like logic and language – and hailed those who excelled in it as intelligent. Not to take anything away from science and math - these are pillars of human progress - but no heed was paid to art and literature. These were just means to entertain oneself while one got too bored while engaging in the other important things.
Whether you like it or not, we are not all wired the same way. It is very difficult to work around human beings like plant seeds and expect them all to grow up the same way irrespective of however identical the conditions are to which they are subjected. Especially in a developing country like India, where our education system tries to churn out identical objects that serve our purposes of growth and development as fast as possible. Add to it the enormous variable called population and you have all the trouble you could probably ask for. In this state of confusion where people can’t distinguish between what they want and what is wanted from them, there are smartasses who manage to get their head above water, take advantage of the situation around them and make some quick bucks. No wonder our income distribution is so skewed - why we boast of the filthiest of slums and the grandest of mansions.
So instead of lamenting on how horrible the situation is, can there be a solution to this huge problem? Is there some light at the end of the tunnel? Well, all is not bleak. You can start over by understanding that one is not a failure if he or she cannot wrap his/her head around the rules of integration. There has to be a point when you have to stop beating a dead horse. It’s okay to be confused and it’s okay to feel that maybe you’ve not tried hard enough. Just that you have got to be careful about the next choice that you will be making. Never be afraid to try out something new. Even if it doesn’t necessarily pay you well. Even if the neighbour/Uncle’s-son’s-wife’s-dad’s-brother’s-kid chose the same field and died of starvation. Not even if your mother waves that ladle at you and screams her lungs out. Never bother. Just stick around and experiment. You ought to be good at something. I know that sounds depressing but you did beat a million sperms to reach here first.
Jokes apart, life isn’t a full stop. It’s a long sequence of full stops – it’s a line of such dots leading you towards a better future, and all these full stops are just telling you that you need to keep pushing yourself to the next. And when you’ve progressed far enough, you’ll look back and see a long road that has led you to this point. Take a deep breath and keep walking.
Photography By: Zubair Alam