I looked out of my window. The visuals were not that bad. Having moved into this city recently, I was skeptical of everything. I had not thought that we would get a spacious flat but we had. I had thought that the neighbours would be boorish, they were not. In fact they were quite friendly. The building had long corridors which meant that Akhil my son could play even if it was raining outside. There were many kids and whats more, Akhil’s classmate Raj lived next door. With Akhil settled down. I was at peace and more adjustable to the circumstances.
Yes, I missed my family especially my in-laws with whom I had been living for the past 10 years but then some sacrifices are needed if you have to advance in your career. And so when the husband got a good offer we moved to this city leaving our home and loved ones behind.
‘Ma, I am going to play’, screamed Akhil. I was feeling bored so I followed him out. It was very hot that day and so the kids had decided to play in the corridor and then when it cooled down, they had plans to move out.
They started playing cricket. After two overs, Akhil said, ‘Wait’, I will call Raj’.
And he started banging the door and ringing the bell simultaneously.
‘Don’t make a din, Akhil’, I said
‘Another boy said, ‘Don’t call Raj, we have Summatives next week, so don’t call.
Akhil didn’t listen to either of us and kept on banging.
The door opened with a jerk and Raj’s father came out and yelled, ‘Don’t you have exams next week, go study and DO NOT DISTURB understand??’, and he shut the door with a bang.
Akhil was shaken. I did not know how to respond. The other boy said, ‘I warned you na, summatives are on next week and so Raj and his brother will not come out for the next 15 days.
I was surprised. I mean so many amends have been made so that there is not much stress on children, there are no marks or ranks given but only grades and yet……
Summatives had begun but at out home everything was normal. We both believe that children learning is a continuous process. And though we see to it that Akhil revises the day before the exam, we try and see that he is not stressed.
And so he was his normal self- monkeying around. I was taking my stroll he was cycling. We saw Raj, he was carrying a packet obviously he had been to get something from the shop nearby.
‘How are you, Raj, EVS went well today?’, I asked.
The boy was disturbed and was about to cry. ‘No, I made two mistakes’, he said and ran away.
We just stood looking at him. This was quite unlike Akhil who just comes and yells, ‘Ma, I made two mistakes’, as if it is an achievement to be broadcast.
The results were out. Akhil did reasonably well. I was satisfied. Even if I had asked him why he had done mistakes, he would have just replied, ‘It happened Ma, what can I do about it now’. So I just told him where all he had gone wrong and what all he had to improve.
I didn’t ask Raj and his brother how they had fared. I was afraid that if they had not done well, they would be hurt.
I met their father some days later and after some preliminary talks as any normal conversations go between parents I asked him how his sons had fared. ‘Not good, the elder one got in the range of 37, 38 out of 40 the younger one got 40 in two and 39, 39.5 in two’, he said.
‘But that is very good’, I protested.
‘Oh no they have to be perfect to get good grades’, he said.
‘But is it so important? It is how you lead your life which is more important’, I said. I truly believe that it is not marks but your character, integrity, values which help you to be successful in life.
‘Do you teach that to your child’, he said, ‘Don’t do that marks are important, getting full marks is very important’, he said and left.
I kept on looking. What was important? Raising happy confident kids or raising robot kids?
There was a commotion behind. I looked there. An old man had slipped and fallen, all the grocery items had fallen from his shoulder bag. Akhil first helped the man to get up on his feet and then proceeded to pick up everything and put in the bag.Then he put the bag on his shoulder and held the old man’s hand and lead him to his home.
Akhil many never be a topper, maybe he will never be an IAS or Engineer but I knew that his heart was in the right place and he was a winner all the way.
The theme for this week, DO NOT DISTURB
I truly believe that education is a beautiful learning process and though competition is good, the quest for perfection kills the appetite for learning.