For the longest time I have considered myself unprivileged in terms of education I received. Both my parents barely passed school, college was just a dream they refuse to talk about either out of shame or due to fading memory. Even though they had left no stone unturned to admit me in the best school of the small town of Ludhiana, I felt my parents were ‘incapable’ to support me at times when they ‘should’ have been resolved my issues.
Like in grade ninth if I was battling with trigonometry alone in my room under the lamp light, my best friend had her father sitting next to her showing step by step the method which we both had not tried to understand in the class. But what we did is a different matter, what my parents should have done is the key you see! So I felt small and lived like a victim in my school days.
Of course higher education was sad in my town and I knew I was being wasted. As I moved on I blamed them for my ‘struggle’ to do something meaningful. It must have been easy if not good to hold someone responsible for my life, who better than the parents! Till I began to see blaming them was solving no purpose.
So I took charge of my life. It didn’t take me long to find out my own voice. Not only did I recognise it but instantly valued it. There was a desire to nurture it. The struggles are far from over but there is a sense of freedom. Today when I look back at this short but fulfilling journey of recent years, I attribute it no one but my parents.
Often the movie of my life goes into a flashback but now the camera zooms in not on the day I was struggling with trigonometry but the day I was going berserk with supplementary reader ‘King Solomon Mines’. I found the vocabulary extremely tough and was unable to comprehend the complicated sentences. The fact that my parents didn’t have a good English base deepened the pain. Knowing ‘lack of support’ at home, I made it a point to read the chapters every day. The homework was to write answers in ‘our’ language and I sat up all evening to draft them. When I read out the answers from the copy next morning, my teacher made the whole class clap for me. Amidst the clapping I could hear my inner voice say you did it girl, and you did it on your own! I missed the point then but I do see it now.
I remember irrespective of what was my position in the class, my mother got me chocolates in appreciation of the hard work I did. Not a single moment did my parents tell me to switch off television or not read during exam time. After sixth grade she left me on my own to plan my time and work, letting me learn to organize and manage. Every time I overheard them talk to their neighbors, this is all I can recall ‘She is very hard working’, ‘Very intelligent’, ‘loves to read’…and the words have stayed on.
I have stopped reading the newspaper since five years because of my inability to take in the negativity the morning paper carries. But from here and there, every year I do get to hear the news of suicides of students after or before results. Even if most of them don’t go to the extreme of suicide, I see students going through internal suicide due to pressure to perform. The ‘well read’, ‘ambitious’, ‘supportive’ parents think they are setting the path of success for their children, alas!
I silently thank in my heart for having so called ‘uneducated’ parents and pray I never let my education come in the way of growth of my own children. Amen.