Monday, January 23, 2017

Overambitious Parents and Successful Children – A Story

ARE YOU AN OVERAMBITIOUS PARENT...?

Are you overambitious parents who desperately want your children to succeed...?

I have seen so many overambitious parents who are willing to do anything  go to any extent  make all sorts of sacrifices” – in order to ensure that their children succeed in their academic studies. 

In the Defence Services – I have seen parents sacrifice” their married life for the sake of their children’s education – the “faujan” mother lives separately with her children in a city which has good educational facilities – while the “fauji” father lives as a “married bachelor” at his place of posting. 

I remember a case where an officer even quit the military so that he could live in Pune and both parents could concentrate on their children’s education.

I have seen parents remove Television (TV) from their homes (and deprive themselves of their main source of entertainment) – since the parents feel that TV may be a distraction to their children and disturb their studies. 

A lady quit her job when her son entered the 9th class  so that she could devote all her time to him and ensure that he studies properly. 

Most parents spend huge amounts on Tuitions and Extra Classes for their children.

Yesterday – I saw an overly ambitious mother “motivating” her son to study hard and prepare well for the IIT JEE – the Joint Entrance Examination for admission to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) 

“You have to get into IIT at any cost...” – she exhorted her son. 

And – just imagine – her son was only in the 9th class – he still had more than 3 years to go before the IIT JEE. 

The mother was telling everyone about all the things she was doing to ensure that her son clears the IIT JEE with high rank and gets admission into a good IIT and gets a choice branch.

The desperation of the overambitious mother reminded me of a story I had written sometime ago.

Here is the story...

IIT JEE 
Fiction Short Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE 

Pune

May 1972 

At the height of the scorching summer of 1972 – two boys sweated it out in the dilapidated drawing hall of the College of Engineering Pune (COEP).

The two boys were appearing for IIT-JEE – the Joint Entrance Examination for admission to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

From time to time – the antiquated structure vibrated and reverberated as a train thundered close by on the adjoining railway tracks on the south-east mainline from Pune to Mumbai (then called Bombay).

For two full days – Saturday  the 6th of May 1972 – and  Sunday  the 7th of May 1972 – the two boys sat in the sweltering heat – writing 4 papers – in English, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry – analytical and subjective – each paper of 3 hours duration – 2 papers per day – one in the morning – one in the afternoon.

The papers were tough – and the two boys thought and thought – till their brains went blank – and they wrote and wrote – till their fingers ached – and finally – when it all ended – they collapsed in agony with the sheer mental and physical exhaustion of it all.

While the boys wrote the IIT-JEE exam inside – their fathers waited outside – for the entire two days.

The fathers had personally escorted the boys to the exam venue at COEP in Shivajinagar from their homes in Sadashiv Peth – and back – hiring auto-rickshaws – which was a luxury for the lower middle-class.

During the exam lunch-break – the boys’ mothers – Asha and Usha – came down from their homes bringing cool buttermilk and freshly cooked hot lunch for the boys.

At the end of the exam – both boys said that they had done well – and the parents were happy.

They all lived in Madiwale Colony – a middle class locality in Sadashiv Peth Pune – where most parents with bright sons had one ambition – their son should get into an IIT – and there he would strive for a 9+ point CGPA – a passport to the “land of opportunity” – for higher studies in a good university – the best way for a middle-class boy to migrate abroad – to realize his American Dream – and then – he would find a suitable “NRI” groom for his sister there – so that she could follow.

But in the story I am narrating – the two boys were the only child of their parents – and their parents had left no stone unturned to ensure that their sons successfully cleared the IIT-JEE.

Both the fathers worked as clerks in a government office.

They cycled to their offices every day on their old bicycles.

Both of them had sacrificed their dreams of buying a scooter – using the money to pay for IIT Coaching Classes for their sons.

The two mothers too had done all they could to facilitate the studies of their sons – in fact – for the last two years – as their sons were preparing for the IIT-JEE – both mothers thought of nothing else and they were totally were obsessed with their respective sons studies.

The two families were next door neighbours – they were best friends and had developed a very close relationship.

Now – after the ordeal was over  the parents were happy – the boys had said that they had done well in the exam – and they all eagerly awaited the IIT-JEE results which would be announced in early June.


Pune 

June 1972

The IIT-JEE results were declared.

Asha’s son successfully cleared the IIT-JEE.

However – Usha’s son did not qualify in the IIT-JEE.

And – this changed the relationship between their parents – especially between the mothers – Asha and Usha.

Asha celebrated her son’s success in lavish style – she held a Puja followed by a lavish dinner – for which the entire neighbourhood was invited.

Asha was ecstatic with joy: “I am so happy my son has got into IIT…” she told everyone.

Asha loudly boasted about her son’s achievement in the presence of Usha – and made certain boastful remarks – which were perceived as sarcastic and insulting by Usha – and this caused a fissure in their relationship which was beyond repair.

in due course  Asha’s son went for counseling to IIT Powai at Mumbai – and soon – he joined the same IIT for the B. Tech. Course in Electrical Engineering.

Usha’s son – who had failed to clear the IIT Entrance Exam – joined the local college for the First Year B. Sc. Course (FY) – and he would try for admission to the local Engineering College after his FY.

Those days – you joined IIT after your Pre-Degree (PD/ Class 11) – for the 5 Year B. Tech. Course.

And – you joined other Engineering Colleges after completing your First Year B. Sc. (FY) for the 4 Year BE Course.

The next year – Usha’s son got admission in the local Engineering College.

After completing his B. Tech. – like most IIT graduates – Asha’s son migrated to the US to complete his MS at a prestigious University  and thereafter  he stayed on in the US to realize his “American Dream”.

After finishing his BE – Usha’s son took a job in the local industry in Pune.

As Asha’s son flourished in America – like most ‘parents of NRIs’ – their lifestyle changed – and after some time – Asha and her husband relocated to a posh apartment in the upmarket locality of Deccan Gymkhana – which was bought by their NRI son.

For Usha and her husband – nothing much changed – and they continued to live in Madiwale Colony in Sadashiv Peth.

The ‘emotional distance’ due to the fissure in their relationship  and the ‘physical distance’ between their homes  resulted in Asha and Usha losing close contact with each other.

Even on rare occasions when their paths crossed – Usha scrupulously avoided Asha – and on seeing this – Asha started doing likewise – so – even when they came across each other – Asha and Usha did not talk to each other.

A few years later – Usha’s son bought a flat in a distant suburb near his factory (those days – decent housing was quite affordable in such remote suburbs of Pune).

Usha and her husband vacated their rented home in Madiwale Colony and moved to live with their son and daughter-in-law as a ‘joint family’.

After this – Asha and Usha totally lost contact with each other.


43 years later


Pune 

June 2015 

By now – both Asha and Usha were old widows in their 80’s.

Asha’s son was now well-settled in America.

Earlier – Asha frequently visited her son and daughter-in-law in America for ‘nanny duties’ – but – after a few years – when her grandchildren grew up – and with her son and daughter-in-law busy in the careers – Asha felt bored and ‘unwelcome’ – and so – she stopped her visits to America.

As I told you earlier – Usha lived with her son and daughter-in-law in a suburb of Pune – and over the years – this once remote suburb had now become a much sought after locality.

Whereas Asha’s ‘American’ son had achieved spectacular material success – Usha’s son had a reasonable career in the industry and would happily retire in a few years – and they all lived together as a ‘joint family’ – Usha – her son and daughter-in-law  and her grandchildren who were now in college.

One evening – Usha ran into Asha at a wedding reception at a hotel near Deccan Gymkhana.

In the presence of the newlyweds – to keep up appearances – Asha and Usha exchanged fake smiles of forced geniality.

After the event was over – Usha’s son saw Asha struggling to walk with the help of a walking stick – so went up to help her.

Usha’s son offered to drop Asha home.

“Thanks – but it is okay – I will go by taxi – the reception will call a cab for me…” Asha said.

“Why call a cab…? I will drop you in my car. You live in the same place in Deccan Gymkhana, isn’t it…?” Usha’s son said.

“No – I don’t live there anymore…” Asha said.

“Oh – so you have shifted to a better house…?” Usha asked.

Asha looked at Usha – then she looked at Usha’s son – and – after a pause – Asha said: “No – I haven’t shifted to a better house – I live in an ‘Old Age Home’…”

“Old Age Home…?” Usha’s son asked, surprised.

“Yes – it is quite far away – please call a cab for me…” Asha said.

“No – No – we will drop you…” Usha said.

They all got into the car – Usha and Asha in the rear – and Usha’s son and his wife in front.

After a long time – Asha and Usha talked – about their sons – their grandchildren – their husbands – and about themselves – about the 43 years gone by.

When they reached the ‘Old Age Home’ – Asha said to Usha: “Do you remember how happy I was when my son had got into IIT…? Now – I sometimes wish that he had not got into IIT…”

“What are you saying…?” Usha said. 

Asha said:

“Yes – those days – it was my life’s desire that my son clears the IIT Entrance Exam. 

I wanted him to do well in IIT – and then  go abroad to America for higher studies  and get a good job in the US and permanently settle down there to realize the “Amercian Dream .

Yes  I was so happy when he was selected for IIT. 

But – nowadays – when I feel lonely – waiting for death in the ‘old age home’ – sometimes – I really feel – that  it would have been better  if my son had not passed the IIT Entrance Exam.

Yes – it would have been much better if he had not got into IIT…” 

There were tears in Asha’s eyes as she was speaking.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Disclaimer:
This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

This Blog Post is the Revised and Abridged Version of my Story IIT JEE written by me Vikram Karve on November 25, 2015 and and posted online by me Vikram Karve in my blog at urls: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/11/iit-jee.html  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/09/a-story-for-ambitious-parents-iit-jee.html
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