Perpetuity of our creed, by still outnumbering the front runners in their classes.
Let me get back to my school days, the earliest form of benchmark getting set up in measuring success but only according to the glossary of parents, teachers and the neighbours. The marks fetched in the examination were bench marked to the 1st rank holder and the gap spelt either a disaster for quite time or a consolation in form of mild rebuke to inch closer to the glory of being the first boy, in the next examination. The class teachers assumed an altogether different outlook, adjusting their frown, frivolous snide and jeer, an exclusivity reserved for the laggards while reading out the marks and handing out the papers to get them signed by the parents.
Back home, taking out the test sheet or the progress report card from the satchel was such an agonising affair that it was inevitably accounted for and designed to be being the first act, for the next morning when my father was in a hurry to leave for work and my mother had very little to spice to offer in sprucing up the dismay. Once the ordeal was over, the trick was to cover up the conversation with my mother with the most effective pronouncement, in adjourning the rebuke for that time being, ‘Ma, I am hungry’.
The first episode always set the stage and state of handling the second notorious affair, skilfully facing and yet avoiding the preying eyes of the neighbours in answering their nagging question, ‘so, how did you fare in the examination, this time?’ They would never be satisfied either with the spontaneity or the brevity of the response and keep on probing, to firm up and measure my unworthiness of being such a misfit to the dreams and the aspirations of my family and in becoming such a woeful example for their children.
The trick and the ploy to escape the sanctity of an overzealous community concern was to make an a straight innocent face, hang my head in shame and keep silently gesturing and asking for more of the reprimand till the neighbours realised that they have had a fair share of the compulsive accountability to being a neighbour and in their role and responsibility of shaping up a child’s future.
The problem was less with the predictable repetitiveness of the ordeal and more with the perceptible fallout that I would have had with my peer group, if I were to redeem myself. For, our breed of playground hunting nomadic genre, with overwhelming number of red marks in the progress report clearly and definitely obliterated the front-runners in the coveted pursuit of scores and ranks.
You could have only one first student in the class of 40!
Now, when I look at my life at 40, I have realised two things. Firstly, the glossary of success for the parents, teachers and the neighbours still remains the same and the playground hunting nomadic genre carries on in obliging the perpetuity of our creed, by still outnumbering the front runners in their classes.
Secondly, the Progress Report Card does not reflect on and measure up the success in Life.