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February 21, 2018 Wednesday 03:28:39 PM IST


Cover Story

In a nation where millions of people with diverse interests, talents, and dreams co-exist, two professions — engineering

and medicine — for reasons entirely anachronistic and culturally ingrained are valorised and continue to be the yardstick of success. More often than not, in complete disregard of even ill-concealed disinterest, parents force children to set aside their passions and become engineers and doctors, who, in turn, end up being deeply frustrated and exhausted individuals devoid of professional ethics, dedication, or any measure of happiness. Although a minority of shall we say the ‘indoctrinated’ professionals among these young people attain personal and professional success, the majority fail in terms of either or both.


Having imbibed the popular preconceptions wh ich equated ‘professional’ courses with success and reputation from a young age, I grew up reiterating that “I want to become a doctor” (even in the absence of any understanding of the profession). But deep within my abiding interest lay elsewhere — in the world of letters. It was thus under the guidance of my English teacher Miss Rajeswari that my interest in literature became a passion while various interschool competitions gave me the platform to experiment, learn, and improve my talents.


But the story wasn’t playing to script yet. So by the time, I finished high school with an overall A+, I was persuaded to opt for the sciences against my wishes of pursuing humanities. Frustrated by classes at school on weekdays followed by tuitions till late in the evening and entrance coaching on weekends (for both engineering and medicine), I found myself constantly depressed and discontented. Finally, I quit — wholly and entirely — convinced that I could neither excel nor be happy in the realm of the sciences. An essential lack of interest in the  subject coupled by my fascination for literature pushed me deeper into the world of reading, writing, and  public speaking.


While I was allowed and encouraged to take part in literary events and competitions, many of my friends who were gifted artists were denied such opportunities and confined to classrooms both by parents and teachers!


After Grade XII, I resolved to read literature, a decision initially rejected by my parents who were still keen on sending me into Medicine. But convinced aboutmy  passion for literature — my teachers played a part in the convincing part — my parents finally let me join BA English Literature and Communication Studies at St.Teresa’s College. That marked

the beginning of my happiness, of  life itself! I won several prizes in competitions, published my first book, began to write regularly in journals and newspapers, wrote for the Kendra Sahitya Akademi journal Indian Literature while at the same time completing my course with an overall A+. Each and every ‘chapter’of that part of my life gave me boundless satisfaction. Presently, I’m pursuing my master’s in Literature and aspire to become a poet and professor of English one day.


Having experienced the dilemma of the disconnect between my parents and myself in terms of the choices I wanted to make for my life, I strongly believe it is important for parents to understand their children, and even talk to the teachers who should know their students’ aptitudes and skills better than most. This collaboration needn’t necessarily belong in an ideal world but it belongs here and now.


Parents, children, and their teachers are in essence a team that needs to work together closely and pull in a direction that answers to the instincts and passions of the  young person at the heart of it all — the Child.


Professional success in the absence of job satisfaction and happiness is meaningless. It can only produce a mass of discontented citizens. Parental understanding and acknowledgment of children’s skills is of the essence here.


Ultimately, it’s the dreams of the young that matter. Little else!

Parvathy Salil

The writer is a First-Year MA student of English Literature at St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulam.

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