The mind right now is full of thoughts and ideas and expressions. My mind. In fact there are so many things running at the same time, along with the desire to jot them all (and that too – systematically), that I wonder how successful I’ll I be in doing the same.
It’s 11:30 Pm. I was lying on the bed about an hour ago, trying to sleep. I could not. So I sit right now, with a hot mug of black-coffee, trying to take things out from inside me to put them all here, on this blog. It could be shit. Of course. But, it’s important for me. This blogshit is one place where once I have written everything the I way I really have thought about them, I have, at the end of it, helped myself in knowing me better. And so dear readers, I write.
Let me accept something. Now that I am making money, I am pretty sure that I never wanted to make loads and loads of money. I don’t dream of buying a car, then a costlier car, and then the costliest car. I don’t dream of having my own house, then a bungalow, and then an entire island! After all these years of existence, I know all these dreams and desires are indeed achievable. After all these years of existence, I also know that all these dreams and desires are so worthless and more than that, endless. In the only life that I have, I have no intentions to work just to earn money so that I and those dependent on me are able to buy this and buy that and so that I can say to myself that I have achieved a lot in this life. Something is so not genuine about this achievement.
I grew up in a middle class family. When I was young, my dad made me mug lines such as “I want to be an IAS officer” so that this could be ‘my’ answer to anyone, a friend or a relative of dad, who asked the young Amrit: ‘Beta, what is your aim in life?’. This was a time when I didn’t even have a clue as to who the hell was an IAS officer!
As I grew up, the only deliverable that mattered in house was ‘topping the class’. No one forced me, but I pretty much knew what really mattered to everyone. No one cared if you won prizes in dramatics or painting!
I actually did top a couple of times in school. Even when I was not topping, I used to be in the close range of toppers (the 2nd 3rd ranker types). I never really questioned too many things. As long as I didn’t have to study any extra, than most of my friends, I really didn’t mind doing well academically.
There isn’t anything easier than getting more than 90% in a school board exam. I realize that I say so based on my intelligence level. I believe that this so called thing called ‘intelligence’ exists in different amounts in each one of us. I am specifically talking about the kind of intelligence you need to grasp information presented in text-books and apply them to answer questions, either theoretical or numerical. It was easy for me to be among the toppers till my Xth because my intelligence level must have been higher than the average students. It had nothing to do with any extra effort from my side.
I met a lot of people who had a higher intelligence level than me when I went to DAV for my plus two. It was away from Patna, the town where I had grown up and spent my life so far. DAV was in Ranchi. There were some students there who had a much much higher intelligence level than me. In DAV, it was impossible to be among toppers with the same effort that I had put in to studies so far.
I tried to work hard for a couple of months but gave up soon. This was not my way of living life. When I had not spent my time studying any more than what I had felt like, up till then, what motive did I have to change? I didn’t change. In fact, I deteriorated academically. I stopped attending classes, started missing exams and for the first time in my life, failed in a subject. Maths. My eleventh class final exam.
I made sure that no one at home comes to know about this. Fake report-cards were prepared and false confidence exhibited all the time. I wrote a make-up and was promoted to 12th. In class 12, I didn’t write a single exam except may be English. Finally it was time to write the board exams. I knew I could mug and get something like 60%. My school let me sit for XIIth board eve when I had missed to write all exams that year. After I having written the first two papers, I asked myself: why am I doing this? Why am I trying to pass? Do I want to be a 12th pass? If yes, is this the best I can do?
That definitely wasn’t the best I could do. I took a decision to quit the remaining papers. When the board results came, I was declared failed. I was a tenth pass in May 1999 when the Xth board results had come. I was still a Xth pass in May 2001 when the XIIth board results came.
I returned home. I realized all my dad’s colleagues and friends knew what I had done. I realized how embarrassed I must have made dad. When a guy who gets 91.5% in Xth, stays away for home for 2 years and comes back with zero achievement, questions are bound to pop up. What went wrong? Did he start smoking or drinking? Had he got the question paper leaked in 10th? Thankfully, my dad did not ask me many things. I think he assumed that I didn’t like being away from home and therefore didn’t study. I think my dad could never have thought of any other reason anyway. The only thing that I kept telling him wast: look dad, had I written my board exams, I would have got something like 60% and I don’t think I wanted to do that.
It was a stupid reason because everyone knew that XIIth board marks didn’t matter anyway. Engineering was the thing ‘planned’ for me and almost all good colleges had their entrance exams. I accet that it was an impractical decision from my side but it did teach me few things: 1. It is okay if you don’t do what you don’t feel like doing; the world is not going to come to an end; and 2. your family is your biggest strength because they love you genuinely and see themselves in you.
I studied for an year. Class XII books. I realized that the subjects were not as tough as I had always believed them to be. Suddenly there was no school. Suddenly there was no company of those super intelligent classmates. Suddenly I didn’t have to top a class or compete. I just had to study so that I could write my and clear my board exams proudly. I studied. Not all day and all night, but just enough to get something over 90% in XIIth when I wrote it finally in March 2002.
In May 2002, I finally was a XIIth pass with 90 point something percentage. In May 2002, once again, I didn’t have any great purpose in life. I had these temptations to study English in some good college in Delhi but I never told about these temptaions to anyone. Engineering was the only thing everyone talked about. I surrendered. Meekly.
I had sat for JEE that year but had failed to clear it mostly because I never really was aiming at the exam. Even after one year of time spent at home, I still had no clue about so many chapters from the XIth class syllabus (never needed to read them because board exam didn’t need me to).
Finally it was decided that I go join one of the best engineering colleges in Mumbai because at that time, the Universities there used to accept students based on XIIth percentage. A day before my train would depart, dad asked me if I thought I could make it to IIT. How could I say NO to him? I got my ticket canceled, spent another year in home, completing those class XI portions, and studied only enough to get into an IIT. I had no motive whatsoever to get the best rank in this world. In May 2003, I had an AIR of 2684.
July 2003. IIT story began. For five years I was going to spend time inside a beautiful campus, cut off from the real life of pain and sufferings. I was purposeless again. Then I fell in love, trying to give some purpose to my life. After having failed to convince her to be mine, and during one of those depressed phases of my life, I remember myself sitting atop my hostel tunkey at 3 in the morning, contemplating suicide. I had spent 4 years in IIT. I didn’t have any purpose to live. I didn’t know why I needed to make money or take up a job or do anything at all? For who? For my parents?
I have no clue how things would have changed had I jumped off the building then. Parents would have suffered. They would have never understood why I killed myself. The girl, whose departure from my life, and whose indifference to what I was going through then, would have cursed herself for no fault of hers. But after a few years things would have been forgotten.
Let me go back to that day. I was there on the tunkey top. Walking on the edges. Should I jump? Should I not? Who am I living for? And then the answer was very clear. I could live a little longer and give to my parents a little more than what I had given them. What had I given them anyway? The pride of being parents to a child who went to IIT? This certainly wasn’t enough.
I lived. Couple of girls came to my life after her. I even ended up ‘almost’ sleeping with one of them. Then I passed out from IIT. Then I got a job. Now my parents were the pride parents of a perfect child, an IITian doing a prestigious job and drawing good salary.
Do I need this perfect life? For how long do I need to keep doing things that have been dreamed by my parents?
The more I think, the more I realize that there are no end to dreams, either those of my parents or of human beings in general. There is no upper limit. And so, it doesn’t really matter when you stop dreaming for more. It doesn’t really matter when I stop making more dreams (seen by my parents) come true: getting a good wife, having a great family and on and on.
I have only one life. For twenty five years I have lived it the ideal way. Today I make more money than I need to spend. But the only reason I get up every day and work till I am tired is not because if I don’t do that, I wont’ make money. It’s all because I like doing what I do. It’s because I learn something or the other: about how governments function, how bureaucrats function, how the corporate world functions, how private players behave, what people dream about.
I plan to keep working till I keep learning new things, irrespective of what I earn. But this is not ALL, that my life can be about. There has to be more purpose than this. I know this for sure. I am not going to marry someone for the purpose of having a kid and raising a family and then working hard for the rest of my life to give all the comfort possible to my family and then start dreaming about lives of my children. Unlike my dad, I don’t dream of having my own airplane and flying my family in it.
Bihar is suffering from flood. Yesterday there was news that it has started flooding even in Orissa. There were blasts in Delhi few days ago; terrorists are playing games. Can I do nothing? I gave off 2k to PM’s fund for Bihar Flood Relief. Is that enough? Is charity enough?
Is there no better way of living the only life that I have? Is there no better way of using my knowledge, my education, than what I am doing currently?
I might not have answers to these questions. But I am looking for them. To begin with, I shut down my AC today. It feels wrong to be breathing in 18-20 degrees when people in this very state are trying to save their houses from flood. Luxury is not for meant for me. It just doesn’t excite me anymore.