The modern-day gladiator …

Last week was a crucial one for many parents and their children in India – the CBSE Board exams results were announced. Over 1 million students appeared this year – surely a mind-boggling number as any.

The Science stream topper list had 7 names and the score ended at 494 marks out of 500. Just a notch below i.e. 493 marks out of 500 stood the victorious son of proud parents who are my relatives. What a moment – so deeply satisfying for any parent to savour. We are not talking about the privileged 1 % here. The number stands around 0.0007% – such a rarefied pinnacle of success.

And yet his mother stumped me on a question that was so far from my mind – will he want to move to America and settle there, after studying there?

The quiet unassuming kid who was very shy and social awkward was still an intense teenager. He was ambitious and was willing to pour in the blood, sweat and tears required for it. An unsatisfied hunger for success and winning drove him every day. The young are so exuberant and optimism – often they have not even tasted any crushing failures. Minor setbacks may be common but they act as stepping-stones for children who bound back to duel again with the system.

And he seems to know his mind as well – he is interested in pure research, what a welcome change that one is. So he doesn’t plan yet to chase a career in computers or management; the twin charmers that lure away so much of our talent.

The family’s lifestyle is so conservative and familiar for us. They lead a simple life, are not keen on ostentatious living and prefer to spend money of things that seem to matter. Education, computer, special courses are all way of life – expensive cars, vacations, shopping binges are not. The home tends to have a spiritual outlook and the usual vices are well at bay; so don’t even talk about smoking, drinking or sex. It seems to be a stereotype but it is not – instead it is a way of life that makes a lot of sense to such families and over decades we see the fruits of their hard toiled labour.

I just visualized the child as a modern-day gladiator – out to slay demons that stand in his way to climb out of the rut and embrace meritocracy. His mother had one concern though – invariably the talented child will want to pursue a post graduation course in his area of interest. And often one sees the brightest sparks to head to America – the land of dreams. Americans we believe are interested in talented sparks in the STEMs area i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. So will he fall for the lure of the lucre and fail to return to India?

Having been an NRI myself for quite a few years, I am the last one who can comment on it that easily. It was ludicrous though that the mother should worry about something that will not happen for at least 6 years from now (4 years of Graduation course and 2 years of Post Graduation course). Yet how typical it is of parents to want to egg on their children to the next phase of their life. Thankfully she didn’t ask me the complications of love and marriage that can happen so naturally.

Not to be found wanting I ended the conversation on the right tone I think by quoting –

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be
Que Sera, Sera
Credit; Karine Weinberger Courtesy: Getty Images
Credit; Karine Weinberger
Courtesy: Getty Images

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