Monday, December 2, 2002

Chip off the old block


She was all of four, pint-sized with a mind of her own, firm opinions and a definite world view. Academics were not to her liking; she saw no need, relevance or utility in study. And so, every day after her school session, she would return all perky, and announce, ‘’I have finished studying.’’ 

It would take the combined efforts of the family to convince her that academics was an ongoing process, well, at least for the next fifteen years or so. Some ingenious, creative and downright plain talking would be done; she’d listen and then announce, in a matter- of-fact tone that defied further discussion: “But I have finished studying.’’

Her mother had been a hard working student, an academic topper. So, where did the little one get her obduracy regarding schooling? We put the question to her father. “Well, I don’t know,’’ he demurred. “I did okay during my school years. Barring one or two incidents.’’

When pressed, he proceeded to divulge details of those ‘one or two incidents’ and, in the process, left us much shaken and stirred. The first incident had to do with when he was all of eight years old and in the third standard. Apparently, Math was a tough subject to crack and he developed an inordinate dislike for the subject. 

Furthermore, he saw no need for attendance or attention. So, every morning, he’d leave home with his sister, (who just incidentally, happened to be the Head Girl!) lunch box in hand, butter-won’t-melt-in- mouth expression on his face. At the gate, he’d wave a cheerful farewell to his unsuspecting sibling and walk in the direction of primary school. 

As soon as his sister was out of sight, our boy would then turn tail, head out of the school gates and to the nearest ‘maidan’ where his companions in truancy awaited him. And they’d spend the whole glorious day playing cricket. 

He did this for three whole days before he was caught. When he was asked for an explanation by his patient father, he said simply and succinctly, “I don’t like Math.’’
The second incident is connected to the first. Frequent absences do not polish one’s proficiency in any subject and when his annual report card fetched up, it had the expected dismal score against Math. Worse, the Headmaster asked to meet his father. So, he went to an indulgent, much older cousin and asked him to come to school as his guardian, since his father was purportedly to be ‘out of station’. 

The indulgent cousin agreed but faced with a very long list of mischief, truancy and other such juvenile misdemeanors, all traces of indulgence left him. Forgetting his part in the contract (just to nod ‘yes’ to the Headmaster, sign the report and leave the room) he started to berate the boy, and severely at that. Really, felt the boy, there was no justice in the world if contracts were broken so easily! 

Today, the same boy is a responsible Mariner with a deft grasp of Math… which just went to show the family that there was hope yet for his school-hating daughter! 

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