238 Monday Musings – A disturbing epiphany
Last week I had a disturbing epiphany as I met my school English teacher after decades when I visited her in the school she teaches now in Bhubaneswar. The joy of seeing her is beyond description. I saw in amazement how she is still the same - selfless, soft, warm but reticent in her expression of warmth. I can only hope that she would have seen in me that her work has had unimaginable powers and would have added to her faith in what she has been doing all these decades.
I told her in the brief meeting that my lasting regret in life was not to have studied literature, considering that she taught us English, and that I wasted my prime studying the eminently boring and unimaginative world of the sciences. I wanted to tell her more and more about this regret, the pursuit of which was curtailed by the overhang of paucity of time in our rather short meeting. I wanted to tell her that more damage has been done to Indian youth by the pursuit of making them engineers and doctors in the last few decades that the collective damage unleashed by TV, drugs, burgers and Baywatch, the quartet I believe are each devastating enough in their own might. I wanted to tell her that she should have told me then and there that I should have taken languages as my vocation and not bothered to tame the calculus, Newtonian mechanics and pharmacopoeia, which in any case I have not used to change even a bulb or change diapers after having spent sleepless nights agonizing over it.
As I was coming out of the school I was taken to a room where over a dozen students were studying earnestly for their IIT. On a notecopy opened in front of me was the scary serpent of the integrative calculus and I realized that calculus is still out in the open – traumatizing yet another generation. Someone should take retributive if not legislative action on calculus! Don’t they have courts or public interest litigation around these things? Can’t we have a signature campaign to ban calculus before the age of 60 – I guess only the senile should study it but that is exactly what you become if do study it before 60. I desperately wanted to ask the hapless child if he liked languages or sports but did not have the courage. I had a disturbing epiphany – the more things changed the more they remained same.
On my journey back, i remembered every one of my classmates in school, how they were, what were they instinctively and intuitively good at and what career choices they made, how aligned these choices were to their natural flair and most importantly how much of what they studied are they using in the work that they are doing today. I will keep the good doctor in the batch out of this list on humanitarian grounds, but when I think of a person from my batchmates in school who are doing anything remotely productive with their education, I can come up with only one bloke, who after his hotel management degree, cooks Indian food and sells Indian tea in London to bored and nostalgic Indians and the exotic obsessed Brits. I would have never imagined way back that he would ever feature in a list I will make which has praise for him, but one must give any devil his dues!!. So hats off Awinish – keep fleecing the Brits – they deserve it.
As for the rest – wait for your epiphany. Disturbance is guaranteed.