Its amazing how we take so much for granted in our lives. We at MAD do so much to ensure that our kids get quality education. We prepare the best syllabus for them, we make sure they never miss a class, that they get to attend the best schools by means of scholarship, are able to attend camps, events and so on. And yet there are some things we just cannot anticipate that end up ruining all our plans.
I had a harsh reminder of this last week when I made a quick trip to Valsalya Bhavan. I was visiting to see how the 10th kids had performed in their model exams. There are three kids at Valsalya Bhavan who are sitting for their Boards this year. All three are pretty good at their studies and I was really happy to see that two of them had gotten above average grades in their model exams. I went to meet the third girl in the end because she was our star student and I had hoped that she would have outranked both her friends. She sat in front of me with a blank piece of paper on which I had asked her to write down her grades and she calmly said she had failed everything.
Obviously I thought she was joking and I asked her once more for her grades. She kept repeating that she had failed all her exams. I was beginning to grow frustrated at her lack of seriousness while discussing such an important issue, when her friend walked in and told me that it was true. She had indeed failed all her exams.
I sat there prickling my brain over what I had heard. How could it be? She had been getting really good grades up until her models, she was one of the best students in the orphanage and until a few weeks ago was quite eager to do well in her Boards.
Meanwhile she just sat there smiling at me as if this was a completely trivial matter. Finally, resigned to know why a really good student, such as herself, had failed her exams, I asked her what happened. She said she failed because she decided not to study anymore. I asked her why she took such a decision and she shrugged nonchalantly.
Apparently she woke up one day and decided not to study anymore. When everyone reprimanded her for doing so, the sister included, she said she didn’t want anyone to bother about her future. It was her life and she had decided she was going to waste it away.
I sat there wondering what I could say to a kid who had given up on everything. I did everything I could to explain to her that there would come a time when you would look back at this exact moment and wish you had done things differently. I told her that you can deal with all sorts of pain except that of regret, because you will then have no one to blame but yourself.
Luckily I didn’t have to make a prolonged speech. The sister had an indepth chat with her the other day and had somehow managed to get through to the kid. She promised the sister and me that she would do everything she could to ensure she got good grades. I was still a bit worried, since she hadn’t studied anything for her models and also since her final exams were a week away.
When asked how she was going to catch up her studies, she said she was quite confident she would do well and that she had already revised more than what her friends had. At that moment I felt an awful amount of admiration for the young girl sitting in front of me.
When I started teaching my kids at Valsalya Bhavan I was told that they had some of the most difficult pasts. But I had never stopped to think about the effect it had had on them and the various ways in which it would manifest itself; how the smallest things affected them so deeply. I realized that day that no matter how much we do, we can still only guide them through it all, but it is for them to finally walk that line. Let us hope that God gives them enough strength to do so.