Pinky questions

Pinky ran towards the school bus after the last class. She jumped into the bus and sat with her best friend. Pinky always sits window-side as she loves to watch people and vehicles on the road; buildings and shops on the roadside. She was eagerly waiting to reach home as she had an important question to her mother.

Pinky’s mother Nidhi was in kitchen, preparing evening snack for Pinky. Pinky forgot to leave her shoes, in the excitement to talk to her mother about the happenings of the day at school and to ask that question.

“Mom, what did you want to become when you were a child like me, studying in seventh standard?” Pinky asked, with plain and innocent enthusiasm that we find only in children.

“Why are you asking that question now?” Nidhi asked, sensing the enthusiasm that was there all over her daughter’s face while gesturing Pinky to remove shoes.

“Today,” Pinky said, while she stepped out of kitchen and removed her shoes and put them in the stand, “Rosy Madam, our Mathematics teacher, asked everyone in our class about what do we want to become in the future.”

“Good! So what was it like? What did the class say?” Nidhi asked, stepped out of the kitchen, sat beside Pinky on the sofa, and gave Pinky the snack she just prepared.

With a spoonful of snack in her mouth, Pinky said, “Most of the students told that they want to become engineers or doctors. Why everyone wants to be an engineer or doctor?”

“Pinky, it is not that they want to become engineers or doctors, but their parents want,” Nidhi told as if it will answer Pinky’s questions.

But, Pinky had more questions.

“Why parents want their kids to become engineers or doctors?  Tell me, what do you want me to become?” Pinky asked and sipped the fruit juice her mother gave.

“Because, they think engineers and doctors earn more money than others. What did you say you want to become?”

“Tell me, do we study to earn more money or do we study to gain more knowledge?” Pinky asked.

“To learn more knowledge,” was the answer from Nidhi and she knew that, that was an ideal answer in an ideal world.

“Mom… then… that means only engineers and doctors have more knowledge.”

“It is not like that. But most of the parents want their children to be either doctors or engineers, so that they earn more money.”

“What do you want me to become then? Are you also one of those parents?”

“Tell me, what you said you want to become,” asked Nidhi, eager to know about her daughter’s answer.

“First, you tell me what do you want me to become.”

“I have never thought about it. Do whatever you want to do and just read well.”

“Really! I told I want to become a teacher: a science teacher. I loved the science teacher who taught us last year. I want to become like her and teach students like she did.”

“That is really good Pinky,” Nidhi said.

“Maa, you did not tell me what you wanted to become when you were a kid like me at school,” Pinky insisted to get an answer.

“I wanted to become a Singer when I was a kid like you.”

“Then why didn’t you become one?”

“Because, your grandfather wanted to see me as a doctor.”

“Then why didn’t you become a doctor?”

“I never wanted to be a doctor. I sometimes regret why my father never allowed me to continue my singing classes even though the teacher said I really sang very well during my first week of classes.”

“But, you can learn singing now Maa…” Pinky said these words in a plain tone. At her age, nothing seems impossible except getting hundred percent marks in every exam.

Pinky finished the snack and ran to the park in front of the house, where she plays every evening with few other kids from the neighborhood.

Before she realized, Nidhi was sitting in front of the computer, searching on Google to look out for ads for singing classes that are available in Mumbai, near to the area where she lives. She thought, “Google always helped me, with recipes, with emails and with what not, and now with singing classes.”

The way Pinky told her mother that she can learn singing now, moved Nidhi. She is a house-wife and has enough time and resources to pursue her childhood-hobby now. She thought, “May be, I cannot become a great singer; at least I can realize one of my childhood dreams in some way.”

While searching through the ads on the web, she remembered her childhood which was simply books, books and more books; exams, exams and more exams; marks, marks and more marks.

* * *

This is a short story – if it can be called as one – which I finally published after four months in the draft mode, with occasional edits and re-edits.

As kids, we had many dreams; dreams as big as they can be. But in the process of growing up, by the time we become adults, most of our dreams fade. Practically, many of them can’t be realized now. But, we can realize few of them, if only we are willing to do that.

In a way, my childhood was similar to that of Nidhi. I wanted to become a cricketer at some point; I wanted to learn painting; I wanted to learn many other things which fascinated me as a child. But, at the end of the day I became a software engineer in 2005, at the age of twenty-two. I mean no offense to my parents and no regrets about my upbringing. I know, they did what best they can and I owe a lot to them in many ways for what I am today.

When I see little kids singing, dancing or performing any other arts in TV shows, I sometimes feel sad and desperately wish I could go back to my childhood and do something different than studying. I bet, there are many who think like me. Are you in the same boat?

At the risk of sounding arrogant, I can say that Indian middle class upbringing never allows children to think about anything but studies and exams. From the day a child joins school, its all about exams and marks; even before a child can understand what an exam is.

Born to study’ seems to be the way for most of the children in India. At least, that is the case with the families that are not financially well-off.

In the State where I live in India, education is a huge business; I am not aware of the situation in other states of India. Here, there are two options after you pass out from High school: study for medical entrance exam or study for engineering entrance exam. Most of the parents are unaware of other courses, like Commerce, Economics and so on.

I am not saying engineers and doctors are not good. It’s just that most of the parents select one of these two options, being completely blind to other options available.

I have seen my friends and relatives who messed up their studies because they never wanted to study what they are studying. For example, a wrong branch of study in Engineering enforced by parents. “I LOVE to be a mechanical engineer, but my dad wants me to be a computers science engineer,” one guy said who screwed his engineering studies badly because he never liked computers and was always fascinated by automobiles.

I think, I should stop it here, otherwise this article will never see light of the day as the adding, deleting and editing process seems to be endless.

Please share your thoughts using the comments section. I would love to hear what you have to say about this post.

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  1. Posted June 15, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Good one ra. You made a point. I guess I am one of those who want to go back to childhood with you and be someone else than what I am today – a s/w engineer. I don’t really blame my parents. They’ve been exceptional in what they did to make me what I am. But I blame the whole system that does not honor or bring to light the other streams of studies like arts and commerce, as much as they stress on engg or med. Parents see engineering or medicine as the way to go because, past few generations, these were the professional courses that have landed graduates in high paying jobs and great opportunities. So much so that other streams got sidelined completely. Its the system. Things are changing, lets hope the scenario changes when we have to guide our kids. Hope Pinky becomes the Science teacher she dreams of becoming.

    • Posted June 15, 2009 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      You are right, in a way the system is to be blamed. But the system was built by us. Even, I see that things are changing little bit these days. Lets hope for the best.

  2. Posted June 17, 2009 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I must admit I was not as bright as Pinki asking the right questions to my Parents. All i got when i asked why i should study was some examples of people in the family with big house and a government jobs. In turn eduction was made a vehicle to achieve monetary success. There was never a joy of learning, formulae were mugged, maths problem practiced by solving more problems, languages given low priority, no body need those while we are saving the planet or solving complex equations. There was so much cramming done that no one had time to think or questions. All it mattered was to optimize the output of the student to get maximum marks.
    But now i see things are changing after a generation that has suffered with this have given there kids more freedom. There are some parents who back there kids talent and aspirations.

  3. saigeetha
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    hi chandu
    Nice thing u’ve mentioned in ur post.ya i too agree with u..that almost 90% of parents will think about their kids to become either Doctor or Engineer…because of the job opportunities in those.But i think most of us not aware of the other courses like u mentioned…so i think this is not the mistake of parents..but its the lack of awareness on those other a mother now i too fix ur point in my mind to guide my kid…. hopefully.

  4. anu
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    hey same yaar,i also want to become a good dancer but my dad never allowed to go in such a field,for interest i was doing but they didnt allowed to choose as a career…now i pursue for science,i seriosuly feel parents should understand thier child,rather seeing regretting them….n my name is also pinky n i was like her only….

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