Growing up, all of us were told how important studying was to reach somewhere in life. To be someone in life. In Bengali there is a common saying, “Doshjoner akjon hotey hobe.” Translation: You have to be among the top ten.
When you are in school, it is easy to see the top ten kids. But as you grow, the line blurs. Who are really the top ten? A child wants to be a doctor. Some want to be the President. So, is the President of the country the first ranker of the top ten? Or is it the singer who’s inspiring thousands to hum the same tune?
Truth is, your parents and the so-called elders never really tell you what being the top ten means. Now that I have a job, I realize all that my parents meant when they wanted to do well is land up a job and earn some money.
But is earning money so difficult? Do you really have to be among the top ten to earn good money? Then where did the rest of the people of my classroom go? Did they vanish into thin air because they were not making enough money?
When you are born into a certain socio-economic framework, you’re already born to a certain sense of security in life. If you’re born into a middle-class family with parents having a middle-class mindset, you are assured of a middle-class future, if not better. That means you mostly grow up learning to value every rupee that you spend, so when you start working you think before spending every rupee. If you were to reach beyond that middle-class skyline, you have to strive harder. And that means not only working hard in the Maths and Physics classes in school but also changing the middle-class mindset.
What were my parents really expecting out of me when they told me I had to do to 25 out of 25 in the class test? Were they doing that because they had been told the same by their parents?
I do value education. I value the sense of self-worth that it brings. I only wish my parents specified what being the top ten meant, so that I did not grow up assuming that if I aced every exam in school and college, I’d reach some utopia-land where there was no one but me, the best! That utopia-land does not exist. The world goes around because there are mediocre people doing the mediocre mechanical jobs every single day of their life, and you don’t need to be really special to lead a mediocre life in the end.
(Guess the Tamasha hangover is still on!)