I had lofty ambitions when I was younger – I wanted to play guitar on stage with AR Rehman, I wanted to be a professional dancer, a writer, a witch (let’s all take a moment to blame JK Rowling and Paulo Coelho for this kind of influence on me), an RJ, a psychologist, a journalist, a fashion designer and a whole bunch of other things. But I was cursed – my marks were too high in school – in every subject, including maths, unfortunately. And in a country like mine, that meant I had only two career options. #FML *sobs uncontrollably*
Now, to all under any sort of misconception – high marks do not mean the kid is intelligent. Just like being in the 100/150-cr club doesn’t mean the movie is good *cough Krrish3 cough ChennaiExpress cough I-could-cough-till-I-die-this-list-is-endless cough* I secretly hated studying (except English and History), though was found doing exactly that during every waking moment. I was that unintelligent kid with that uncanny ability to remember things that could be puked on the answer sheet, thereby ensuring high marks, thereby being labeled teachers’ favorite, thereby ensuring I would never be anything in life except a doctor or an engineer, cos that’s just how things work in India. After finishing10thstandard in what was dubbed as “flying colors” (what flying colors, I didn’t even get a freakin’ rainbow ribbon?) I was told that to become a doctor, I would have to take biology, where they would cut up cockroaches in the lab as part of the syllabus.
Me: Oh, you cut up…. *throws up breakfast from three years ago* *faints*
PA System: We have an unconscious student here. Could someone please remove this ambitious weakling from the premises? Scoff!
In my defense, the cockroaches were just part of the excuse. I hate doctors with a vengeance because they treated me like a pin cushion when I was just five. So many vaccines, who treats a kid like that?! Such cruelty, such horror! So, I wasn’t sad or anything (secretly relieved, actually). And they said I could be anything I want if I chose PCM with Computer Science.
Anything – as long as it was a stream of engineering.
I did not want anything to do with engineering either. I was interested in other things (in my opinion, bigger things! like, writing. I was a dreamer, not a slogger yada yada yada). But my parents said, “You just attempt the entrance exam. Once the results come, you can decide whether you wanna pursue it or not.” If I had Hermione’s time turner (which she used to study more *shudder!* Girl, I scoff at you!) I would’ve gone back sixteen-year old me and said, “It’s a trap. Do not fall into it!” But I was naïve and I thought, yeah I could decide later.
So, when I announced my decision to take BA in English Literature, there were loud shocked gasps, and cracks of thunder in the manner of 90s Hindi movies, with my mother going, “Haaye meri beti, tu kahan moonh kaala karne ja rahi hai!” to my teacher going, “I did not teach you about carbon’s lifestyle thinking I would have to hear this! Oh! Why didn’t I go deaf before you said this!” (Here’s a little secret: My dutiful Indian parents even consulted an astrologer to find out if some random planet was obstructing some random house (house? sheep? zombie? well, something) because of which I was having such thoughts) And suddenly everyone was taking it as a personal insult, because what Indian kid in her right mind shows her middle finger to all those high marks? (The answer, in case you’re wondering: Yours truly.)
Needless to say, I pursued engineering and there were Colgate smiles around me again. Also needless to say – I sucked at engineering. I sucked at it so badly, that I considered it an achievement if I scored a 40% (I laughed maniacally the first time I got a back-paper. I considered that as an achievement as well!) And now, I am a confused technical writer who sits at a computer 50 hours a week wondering what the connection is between her degree and her job. o.O
PS: When I said I wanted to take BA in English Literature, it was the single – I repeat – the single-most intelligent decision I had ever taken in my whole life. Unfortunately, it was shot down.