Subha Manoj

While I Was Away

The path beyond Board Exam results.

Must have been a weekday in May 1998, I don’t remember well. What I remember is the feeling of despair, hopelessness and failure. It was the day my 12th board exam results were declared. My 10th board results were brilliant, by that, I am sure everyone expected me to ace 12th board exams as well. But things didn’t go that way. Today I can think of many reasons, but at that time none mattered. There were two things I wanted to do. One, scream my lungs out and shout, “This is not me. I am not THIS. I am more and beyond. Don’t judge me on the basis of this.” Two, I wanted to vanish. Poof! Just like that. Somewhere far and never come back. Or come back when everyone had a smile on their faces.

But I didn’t do any of the two. All I did was cry and have an abysmally heavy feeling in the centre of my chest. I never knew the answer to the perennial question which was asked to me innumerable times, “How did you score low? What happened?” “72%, really! How did you get this kind of a score?” I remember sitting and staring out the window or the wall for hours and avoiding. Avoiding my parents, their faces, their disappointment and the terrible feeling that refused to go off my mind. I knew I was a good student, I had always been an above average student, hardworking and sincere. But my 12th grade score proved otherwise.

What followed next was everyone taking decisions for me. Everyone telling me what to do. I knew deep inside why. They felt I was incapable to taking decisions, or finding a path for myself, or of knowing my strengths and skills because I had scored 72%.

Today, 20 years down the line, I know two things. One, my scores did not matter. I had nothing to do with the 72%. I was much more and beyond. It’s when I interacted with many of my classmates through social media quite a few years down the line, I realised that their marks which were below or similar to mine DID NOT define them in anyway (that day or today). Each of them ultimately did well in their lives. Yes, even the ones who scored in 60s or 50s. Two, I wish the social factors around me (at that time) had fathomed this truth and supported me better. I know where my father came from. He was a self made man totally built on academics. For him, academics made or broke a person. So when his one and only child scored low, it devastated him. But as I saw him break, I broke a lot more within me.

Cut to present. Cell phones are ringing in most homes, discussions are happening. Counselors are busy. If your family is one where your child has scored well in 10th or 12th board exams, then you would not probably feel what I am trying to say here. But if there is a child in your home right now, who is quieter and (without you realising) very scared, its a wake up call. It’s time for you to evolve along with your child.

There are questions you must ask yourself and your child. The only two people who should talking is you and your child. No one else. If there is one emotion that should be running in your household right now is Calmness. No, don’t say, its not easy. Because you are the adult here. Go back to the day you held your child for the first time. The day when you said, “I will take care of you, no matter what.” This is the ‘no matter what’ moment. So stand up for your child.

If you don’t know which questions to ask, let me give you a few pointers.

  1. What is that my child loves or is good at?
  2. Is my dreams and his/her dreams different?
  3. Have I missed on seeing some signs which were obvious?
  4. I may be a doctor, or an engineer or a lawyer, but could my child be something else.
  5. Are the family values different from that of my child’s?

Who you should be talking to other than your child?

  1. A counselor who can guide and lead you both.
  2. A family member or a friend who is an inspiration not because of his or her academic score but because of his/her skills and perseverance.

With the above two in sync, trust me, path will be clearer, options will be easier and decisions will be happier. And smile, for the sake of your child. The world is brutal and rough. You have given birth to a life (not a trophy) and it is your responsibility to be the wind beneath their wings. Help him or her come back to a warm home filled with cushions all around.

That is exactly why you are the adult and he/she, your child.


6 Replies to “The path beyond Board Exam results.”

  • Though I am not a parent myself, but my suggestion to the parents would be; go to counselor and have an open and honest discussion. Because, I think every person has a biased viewpoint, not only towards himself/herself but towards their children as well.

    • Sorry about the late reply.

      Yes Mukul,
      I agree. As an educator, I have seen the absolute shyness from many parents’ side to visit a counselor. Its like believing that they are the best ‘judges’ for their kids.

  • I personally believe each one of us should fail at least once and lose an academic year. The learning that comes from that experience is a great life lesson which we all need to deal with other challenges in life so that we do not give up. And scores, that is just vanity metrics. Learning is not in the knowledge or the education, it is in its application in real life for greater good.

    • Hi Kakuli,
      I definitely feel people start learning once they are out of school. Making mistakes, falling in love with the wrong person, there are many such facets.

      I always wanted to take a year between by grad and PG to think what I need to do. But the ‘system’ around me found that suicidal.

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