‘Papa kehte hain bada naam karega, beta hamara aisa kaam karega,
magar yeh toh koi na jaane ki meri manzil hai kahaan …’
So goes the famous Hindi number and it is so very true of me.
I am a teenager who to the older generation is all hands – a happy, clumsy and carefree clown. One who freaks out at parties, goes to movies, puts on music which is more of a cacophony ‘rock’ rocking the house. He’s impulsive. His room is a picture to look at – books piled up, clothes and cassettes strewn around, posters dangling. But this gives the wrong picture too. Only a rosy picture of our life.
To the elders it is truly a case of the grass looking greener on the other side. We freak out by going to parties, picnics and movies only to offset the pressure of studies, assignments, projects and other commitments that we have. All this cloaks the heartaches we have of the nights spent slogging hard. Add to it the thoughts (nightmares) one has about the future.
We are a totally confused lot. Our well wishers and relatives are indeed concerned about our future, yet their advice is mostly derived from rumor and hearsay. Most of it is a blurred interpretation of facts.
Also when we try to have a set and firm ambition, we are discouraged with, ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.’ I am a Science student but I just can’t aim to be Doctor or an Engineer. Instead I should have something to fall back upon. Thus, ‘keep all options open’, is the most common advice thrust on us.
It is indeed all for the better,if one chooses the course or profession in which one is interested and proficient. But many are forced up to give up their liking, because the field is already saturated. Ironically some even have to give up their interests because the field is new or obsolete.
My feeling can be ideally summed up in Robert Frost’s words :
‘I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.’
I am at the crossroads of my life now, I want to be a success, I want to climb out of the rut of conformity and be an individual. But I have to plan my future, carve it depending on my aptitude and ability. No matter what I am, my proficiency is worth only that piece of paper – the board mark-sheet. It’s a competitive world and the jobs are few, as compared to the millions in search of the same. I am just a face in the crowd.
The article was written in response to a contest run by the Citizen magazine published by The Indian Express in Pune, India. It appeared on April 7, 1994 under the feature called ‘Viewpoint’- I was still in school and had just entered my XIIth standard – the dreaded year of your ‘Board Exams.’
It seems far too melodramatic and clichéd to read the piece again but I am sure it was in response to real feelings and stress that one went through at that time.