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This is the first memory of my academic life. I was in second grade when I got ZERO marks in mathematics test. And aftermaths of this event changed everything. Copy with ZERO marks was given for parent's signature. My father saw my copy and then....
For long time, my father was the only high school, the only B.A. graduate and a reputed government officer his village has produced. He is from a poor farmer family and my grandfather, with great difficulty, arranged for his academic expenses. My father is still a pride for all his relatives and village. He is a great respective figure for his accomplishments. He values education more than anything...anything in life or maybe, even more than life. Since childhood, I have seen many of our relative's kids and other needy villagers staying with us and studying. My father happily bears any education expenses for anyone -literally anyone. Till date he helps children and teenagers of his village in their academic pursuits as a financier. It gives him utter pleasure.
I am a daughter of such an education lover and education enthusiast. And there I was with ZERO that too in mathematics. He lost his cool (he is very short tempered person- one of his weaknesses) and beat me pretty well. Now, I don't remember how much I was hurt or cried. What I remember vividly is, that after beating part, he took to me a place far (how far I don't remember exactly) from our home and said to me "you stay here or go anywhere, but don't follow me. I don't want a daughter like you". I was so terrified that I obeyed him. I didn't move an inch from that place. With tears pouring down, I saw him going, leaving me there, alone. After a short while(which felt like an era to me) he came back and I was still crying there. He slapped me and asked 'what are you thinking? where will you go? why didn't you follow me?' I couldn't answer him. I was not thinking at all. I was crying from the pain of separation. He took me back home and signed my copy. I had no complaints of maar pitayi, and was happy and obliged that I was back home. I don't remember what happened next. These are the only memories engraved, I have for that event. I don't remember how my siblings reacted or what my mother did or anything. I was six years old then. Strangely, after 30 years when so many things have changed and I am with my family, I still feel pain of separation and cry inevitably whenever I see myself as a six years old girl standing alone.
He came to drop me to hostel for higher studies, when he saw me crying he hugged me and took me back home without saying any words. After 10 days, when I said I will go and will manage. He booked two tickets. Those 10 days were so normal as if nothing has happened. He didn't say anything about that event. He respected my feelings. My father loves me a lot and I love him equally. He has many admiring traits and I have many fond memories of good times when he hugged me, kissed me and cried for me. He is a regular person with strengthens and flaws, with likes and dislikes, with success and failure. He is not perfect. I don't expect either him or anyone to be perfect.
Coming back to six years old Hema, next morning was an entirely new morning. I vowed that I won't let this situation come ever again. I would do anything to score good marks and I did. From then, I became among first five rank holders of the class. I was a Hindi medium student. I competed and cleared an English medium school test with limited 10 seats availability. I got state government scholarship twice. I was a zonal topper in an MCA entrance exam test. So, eventually the STICK turned a ZERO into a HERO.
What is missing here is something very vulnerable. Firstly, I started studying with an intention to avoid that dreadful situation. Though in later years, if I could have reasoned my fear, maybe, I would have discarded it as "Bekar ka dar". But that fear never let me reason it. I could never go deep into my fear and feel it, analyze it. I always tried my best to keep it away. I studied to score and to be a topper not to learn. In the process, obviously, I learnt also, but learning was secondary for me. I became very studious, I would read three or four books from different boards and writers to ensure that none knows better than me. Eventually, I fell in love with studying and that helped me to be top notch. I would admit honestly, that sometimes, I crammed even mathematics problems. I gave a damn whether I understand that or not, but I had to perform and should be a topper. It is really embarrassing to admit this reality in such a big community of bloggers and readers.
I was a topper and everyone thought I was so intelligent and confident, but contrary to this, I started to believe that I am a dumb person who scores well because of memorizing the things. I don't have an intellect. I have a memory. So, to outer world I was a Hero and in my innermost shell, I considered myself as a ZERO. Not until recently, I noticed that it is so deeply rooted belief in me and my interactions with others are governed by this belief. I am a blogger and a reader on this site. I read blogs, I think about them and comment on them. Again something very vulnerable to share about me, but I have to. Mostly through comments, I seek acknowledgements that I am intelligent and I am a hero. It satisfies my ego. It helps me to silent the inner voice that I am a dumb person. It boosts my self-confidence. It helps me to see a Hero in a Zero. Others' response help me to perceive that they think I am a Hero.
The stick actually made me a pendulum, oscillating between Hero and Zero. I wish, if that night were different. I wish, if I could have made learning my first goal since my childhood. I wish, I never had this fear that branched into many other irrational fears. I cannot imagine how different I would have been with these wishes granted. But then, I think such wishes are useless. Everything happens for some reason and something good comes out of everything.
I keep on sharing my life turning events and being vulnerable. This makes me even stronger and makes me believe that these are important life lessons from my parents' mistakes or my own mistakes. It helps me to become free of my fears. It helps me to study the obvious short term and the hidden long term consequences of events. It helps me grow as a genuine person. It gives me courage to be seen with all my strengths and flaws. It helps me to empathize with my father and rest other who have failings of a human and still deserve respect for who they are. All of us have flaws and we all very firmly believe that we deserve self-respect. Then it is not logical and human to deny respect to others after finding their flaws. Each and every indivudual with all his/her flaws deserves respect if I deserve self-respect.
Bura jo dekhan mein chala bura na milya koi
Jo dil khoja apana mujhase bura na koi.
I am sharing these incidences with you all because I feel the need to do so. I don't want anyone to pass judgmental comments on my father or on his parenting. I am sharing this for you to introspect your reactions, might be completely different than what I shared, and learn something similar to what I learnt about parenting and about human interactions from these incidences.