I come from a family, where demoralization is a much better thing to do than criticism. Like, for example as a kid I was once told by a relative,
“It’s not like you are the only dumb person on this planet. There is nothing wrong with it, God has made you dumb. But, you have to work doubly hard to succeed in this world.”
If I remember correctly I was in 4th or 5th standard at that time, so I was big enough to hold back tears, but not really adept at fighting discouragement. Another remark, which still amuses me at times, is something which my 6th std. class teacher told me,
“Sameer, you are not really good at anything. Not good at sports, not good at academics, not good at any extra-curricular activities.”
Now, I don’t think any teacher should say anything like that to a 6th std. kid, let alone in front of a class of 50 people. But, it was the truth. And even though now I am slightly boastful about this attribute of mine, at the time it was said- I felt quite gutted.
This continued for a long time. I used to get these sudden urges to start studying and prove everyone wrong, but nothing ever materialized and I went back to reading if I ever felt sad. As soon as I grew a little older (old enough to be at the same height as the teacher) I started to look straight into the teacher’s eyes without any remorse or guilt. I used to think, “If her intention is to make me sad, well I am not gonna be sad. I didn’t do any crime, what is she shouting at me for.”
Some times, if I was really at fault, I used to say sorry and laugh. As if not bringing any notebooks (HW, CW, RW) to school, was a very light issue. It worked with warm hearted teachers, who probably thought I was crazy.
Now, having a cure for everything is very dangerous. You start to stop preventing shit from happening, because you are confident about getting out of it. Unscathed. It’s amazing how my answers to questions were so classy at times, that even the most experienced people totally changed their course of speech. I remember whenever my mother used to rant about how much money was wasted on me, I used to say,
“Mom, all fingers of the hand are not the same. I am the son that slipped. Now, since you gave my brother a good education, it will be very unfair on your part to do partiality with me. Afterall, poot sapoot toh ka dhan sanchay, poot kapoot toh ka dhan sanchay.“
This comment totally changed my Mom’s reaction. “Who told you, you’ve slipped out of the hand. You can still do great things in life. I have always maintained that you are much more intelligent than my elder son.” I have to admit, I took that as a compliment.
(Not only Mom, but whomsoever I tried this with became a lot more sympathetic towards me and started praising me.Yes, even the teacher that bloody hated my guts.)
Now, you might ask, who was harmed in all this drama. Nobody but me. I realize it myself. And, that is why my life is very complicated. It is funny in a way. Just now, few hours back, a relative told me, “Sameer, you should learn guitar. Parties keep happening, and you can go and play the guitar on one side there.” I smiled back at him. I am comfortable about people telling me such things now. It releases me from the pressure to perform.
Anyways, to end on a lighter note- there’s a movie coming out called ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.’ I have just one thing to say to them filmmakers, ”Ek Zindagi kya kum hai saalon, Jo dobara chahiye.’