Here’s what hap­pens when hap­less stu­dents write to hope­less colum­nists

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Time Out - SONAL KALRA

Aa gaya hai jee….JEE ka re­sult, aapki aur meri jaan ka dush­man. Hello, good peo­ple. I have no strength left to con­tinue giv­ing ser­mons on the in­signif­i­cance of ex­am­i­na­tion re­sults when it comes to even­tual hap­pi­ness, or the lack of it, in life. Kitni baar same baat boloon? Still, each year, it’s a flood of mails that land up in my in­box after the re­sults of Board ex­ams, as well as ex­ams for ‘en­trance’ to four years of fur­ther undi­luted mis­ery. Lakhs of stu­dentsol­diers carry their par­ents’ ex­pec­ta­tions and aashir­wad on their shoul­ders to brave out the chal­lenge. Some be­come sub­jects of pride and flash a vic­tory sign in news­pa­per in­ter­views, while the oth­ers grieve and write mails to hope­less colum­nists like yours truly.

Is baar toh hadd kar di nah ek Udaipur ke ladke ne. Yaar, 360/360 in IIT en­trance, koi karta hai aise? Itne marks mein toh an en­tire class could have got through and made it to ce­ram­ics en­gi­neer­ing at least. Vaise, we are such grum­bling losers. The young man is bril­liant and de­serves all the lime­light. But unka kya jo lakh­pati ban gaye — I mean, one lakh some­thing rank hold­ers. Some­one else scored 100% and just handed over 100% free sup­ply of taunts to your par­ents for, at least, the next one week. Ha!

‘Do NOT carry photos of top scorers in your paper, hamaari waat lagti hai,’ wrote Gurvin­der from Bathinda, poore dhamki waale style mein. Now tell me Guri put­tar, how will you and your broth­ers-sis­ters get in­spired if we do not high­light the achieve­ments of top­pers? And as re­spon­si­ble me­dia, hamara tumhare par­ents ki taraf bhi kuchh farz banta hai. Who else will give them the am­mu­ni­tion? Stop whin­ing and aim for 360, not 063 next year.

Okay, jokes apart…it’s a se­ri­ously stress­ful time for lakhs out there. Yes, I know you worked hard. Yes, I know there’s too much com­pe­ti­tion. Yes, I know it has been your dream to crack the JEE. Yes, I know you wanted to make your par­ents proud. But you also know that this is ex­actly what ev­ery sin­gle one of the 12 lakh stu­dents who took the JEE mains felt like. Say yes? Then why do so many of you do not re­alise the re­al­ity that comes with the task of com­pet­ing. There would be some who’ll win, and for them to do so, there would have to be some who will lose. Why does such a sim­ple thing be so dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand and ac­cept for the oth­er­wise tremen­dously in­tel­li­gent and bright young­sters.

Why do we see end­less cases of de­pres­sion, with some even go­ing to the ex­tent of giv­ing up on life, be­cause they couldn’t bear the shock of not mak­ing it through an exam?

You know what the an­swer to this para­dox is?

1 We never pre­pared them

for re­jec­tion: Our gen­er­a­tion of pro­gres­sive and evolved par­ents does ev­ery­thing right, ex­cept teach our kids how to deal with dis­ap­point­ment. A re­cent What­sapp for­ward by a friend nar­rated how at a kid’s birth­day party, the hosts changed the for­mat of the tra­di­tional ‘pass­ing the par­cel’ game to en­sure that each kid who had the par­cel in hand when the mu­sic stopped, got to keep it as a gift. ‘This way, no kid loses and be­comes sad’, was the rea­son. It sounds per­fectly al­right but then these ‘happy’ kids would not know the feel­ing of los­ing, and re­al­is­ing that it’s ab­so­lutely okay to do so.


We pro­tect them way

too much: We are so heart­bro­ken at see­ing our kid sad that given a choice, we would let him or her go about their en­tire life with a pro­tec­tive cover around them. This man­i­fests as us fight­ing with their teach­ers if they get scolded in the class, if they don’t get a part in the school play…even with other kids if our kid doesn’t get to be on the jhoola in the park. We are there for them, blind­ing them to hurt, grief, dis­ap­point­ment of any kind. We fight for no-exam pol­icy all through school­ing, and then when he or she suf­fers a shock on not get­ting through the en­trance test, we blame the en­tire ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. I don’t think par­ents re­alised when they crossed over the line from be­ing the gen­er­a­tion ‘jisme bachchey apne aap pal jaate the’ to an over-fussed one ‘ja­han hum unhe adult hote huye bhi paal rahe hain.’ I re­mem­ber when as a kid, I would fall on the ground, my mom would say ‘kuchh nahi hua. Stand up’. Now when my two-year-old trips over ac­ci­dently, the en­tire fam­ily rushes to com­fort her. Play­fully so, but mom even hits the ground as a pun­ish­ment for mak­ing her fall. I’m sure it’s the same at your home. So even­tu­ally, there’ll be a gen­er­a­tion of adults that has never seen fail­ure, not faced re­jec­tion AND ex­pects an in­stant rep­ri­mand for any­one who hurts them. Well. 3 We are suf­fer­ing from delu­sional op­ti­mism: In the age of self-help books, mo­ti­va­tional gu­rus and all your Face­book friends ready to tell you 24X7 that you are ab­so­lutely amaz­ing, it’s not tough to avoid fall­ing into the trap of self-pity if any­thing goes wrong, even re­motely. Like not get­ting through JEE. Or hav­ing a bad hair day. Are you get­ting my point? It’s ac­tu­ally quite nice to look at pos­i­tives in life, and also to feel great about your ca­pa­bil­i­ties. I’ve been ad­vo­cat­ing the same in this col­umn for the past 10 years. But what’s ev­i­dent, of late, is that we are so at­tuned to the pos­i­tiv­ity mantra, that we are al­low­ing our­selves to be medi­ocre in the process — in work, in re­la­tion­ships, in stud­ies. And the mo­ment fail­ure hits us in any of these, we pre­fer an­nounc­ing ‘feel­ing sad, empty and low’ on so­cial me­dia, and get­ting in­stant loves and high-fives, than ac­tu­ally mak­ing an ef­fort to bet­ter our­selves. I do it, and I’m sure you do, too. Our kids will do it even more, be­cause they are grow­ing up on a feed of pos­i­tive quotes on In­sta­gram, com­fort­ing FB likes and ar­ti­fi­cial Snapchat fil­ters, through which they can see them­selves as ‘the best’. Till the next JEE exam comes through.

Sonal Kalra has such dou­ble stan­dards, I tell you. She keeps say­ing ‘think pos­i­tive’ and then writes all this. Delu­sional, you see. Mail her at sonal.kalra@hin­dus­tan­times.com or face­book.com/son­al­kalraof­fi­cial. Fol­low on Twit­ter @son­al­kalra


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