Personal Battles

Bringing up my 6 year old son makes me to frequently go back to the childhood battles I fought and I can’t help look at him and his future through those lenses.

I struggled with unnecessary phobia of facing the Math and language exams when I was in high school. Once I reached college, I decided to kick my mental block and did something very adventurous…insane is probably the right word to use here.

While choosing subjects for my 2 year pre-university course, I decided I would take up the subjects I most struggled with. I picked Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry as my main subjects and Sanskrit as my language choice. My dad wanted me to become an engineer so I was attending the engineering entrance prep classes from 4-8AM every day for the entire 2 year period. That gave me enough opportunity to improve my Math ability. While I had to work hard for Math, I completely enjoyed Physics and Chemistry. I still do to this day. With Math covered, to make up for my shortcoming of not excelling in languages in school, I enrolled for a 1 yr conversational Sanskrit course where we had to do crazy stuff like between 5 and 6 in the evening, no matter who we were talking to, we would only speak in Sanskrit.

For my 3 year graduation course, I took up Mathematics and Statistics to continue the metal-block kicking and Computer Science because I was drawn to it. Without stopping there, I decided to do a parallel 3 year graduation course in Hindi to cover the language part. I also convinced my dad to fund a yet another parallel course -- 3 year advanced diploma in Computer Science from NIIT. As if all of this is not enough, I threw in a 6 semester graduation program in instrumental music (I was learning to play Veena back then). Over and above all of this, I was dating Ranjit during that time. Finding time to meet him was as challenging as hiding our relationship from my parents.

I learnt a lot during this phase, the most important lesson being I am not a super woman and that realization was hard to handle. My day started at 4AM every morning and ended at 11PM. I tasted failing in a subject for the first time when I fell short of the required 35% marks in Statistics practicals and had to re-take the exam. No one fails in this particular exam. No one! I held the record for quite sometime for this. I managed to pass the music exam but it was more because of the examiner's sympathy than my skill. Veena, just like any other string instrument demands a lot of practice for the skin on the fingers to toughen. I had no time left in my day to practice well and my fingers bled when I had to play a piece in high speed during my exam. My eyes stung with tears less because of the pain caused by the bruises and more because of humiliation and frustration that I don’t have the inborn talent for music in me. It was a skill I had to hone in my case, but I didn’t want the skill, I wanted to have the talent. The examiner took pity on me and gave me pass marks.

My Hindi course and my Computer Science diploma went well and so did my main graduation course. But after those 3 years, I was completely exhausted. If not for the support from my parents, Ranjit, and my friends, I would not have survived that phase.

It feels great to see Raunak have a natural ability with numbers and languages. He already can read and write 3 languages (thanks to his school and his grandmother) and is showing a delightful inclination towards logic and Math. Nature threw in a bonus gift for me in him – he has a talent for music. He not only sings well but is technically sound and can interpret the nuances without any formal training.

This means two things. 1) Someone up there must love me a lot for giving my child the exact same gifts that I badly wanted. 2) Raunak’s battles will be different from mine. I like the first point a lot!