My school-going sister needed to collect her textbooks for her upcoming academic year.She would be entering the eighth grade. A grade which I would never forget because it was a grade that left me with a massive number of memories. Memories of fun, and purely fun. I had fun playing, dancing, studying, participating in events; I had fun during exams and picnics....
So my sister needed entertaining company (obviously me, duh!) amidst the boredom of new textbooks, new syllabus sheets, new unnecessary fears of new frowned faces of teachers.
My sister's face glowed. The glow was due to the sweat; she had been playing with her friends over/below desks until a frown faced teacher entered the class.
'You need to study at least 9 hours in a day from now, or you will fail in 10th class' blurted Frowny, let's just address her as that. I noticed sparks of nervousness appearing on my sister's glowing face.
Thinking back of when I was in the eighth, we weren't told we had to study to avoid failure. We were told we could study if we wanted to learn and explore life.
ME (in my sarcastic mind): yea, really... maybe they should even give up on bathing... it wastes time!
FROWNY (to all of us): Parents, even if your lazy children bathe on alternate days, it is fine; but they have to study daily.
Thinking back of when I was in the eighth, we weren't told we were lazy. We were told we were highly responsible and capable of achieving immense feat in whatever we pursued.
No wonder I felt claustrophobic in that classroom. Some not-so-pleasing odours seemed to sway. Oh, and in my time, we had pleasing fragrances in classrooms.
'One smile doesn't cost, Frowny. If nothing else, it will only make you look good' my mind spoke to itself.
Thinking back of when I was in the eighth, we had teachers filled with energy, optimism, humour and their smiles helped us not to fall asleep when we read about one of the many battles in Panipat.
'You kids are full time on your phone or laptops. You should read relevant things. Okay, Chetan, tell me who is India's P.M?' asked Frowny in a dominating tone.
Chetan, a chubby soon-to-be eight grader, and a victim of Frowny had a look which clearly said 'and you really think I don't know the answer to that?'
Chetan replied with great confidence 'Miss, why do teachers always ask us such questions. We are always underrated. Why isn't an adult ever asked such a question?'
Frowny was quite pissed. Her ego had been hurt. How could any student (whom she thought doesn't know who India's PM is) ask her anything like that...
'I know that all adults in this room will know that answer, Chetan.' she said as she banged a stack of textbooks on the table.
'Come you pests, and take your textbooks.' Frowny had to go to some other class to hopefully feed her ego there.
We all began to disperse. I looked at Chetan. He and my sister were discussing about a new invention; another classmate joined in and announced the new chess move he had learned from his uncle.The others pestered him to share it with them. Naomi, my sister's best friend, dragged her to one corner to show her the candle she had made for her grandma.
I saw bright minds. Each of them was bustling with ambition. Each of them wanted to learn. Each of them had a dream for India.
It was unfortunate to see people like Frowny acting as a mentor to these bright minds, constantly demotivating them and telling them they weren't bright. But deep within I knew, these bright minds wouldn't be overhauled by Frownys in their journey. They knew well whom and what they had to look upto.
While walking out, I decided to stalk and test Frowny's concept of 'all adults knowing who India's PM is'. I went upto a parent who was busy gossiping with a few other aunties about a soap.
'You look so much like our PM's wife!' I exclaimed with joy.
She instantly replied 'Aree.. but I thought Abdul Kalam was not married.' This lady had clearly been a sincere student of some Frowny.
I didn't know who was at fault for demotivating bright minds and trying their best to turn them into horse-blinkered empty vessels.Was it the Frownys of our society who tried their best to demotivate bright minds? Or was it the not-so-charismatic PM of ours? Or was it just the fault of bright minds because they were bright?
I joined my sister and her friends, and learned about the new invention they were talking about - a robotic mechanism that could heal a particular disease.
They very well knew whom and what they had to look upto.
Let the Frownys keep coming. These minds aren't giving up their brightness.