Humourist Rachna’s take on board exams and the fear psychosis that parents and elders build around it. In a soulful letter to her daughter, she spells out her priorities as a mother. Here’s a mother-daughter dialogue, via this letter, in Different Truths.
Dear Baby Girl,
You are in Grade 10 now. The year in which entire families cover their lives with a huge, dark tarpaulin and huddle in fear.
‘Iss saal boards hai, na. No vacations.’
‘We can’t party. Iss saal boards hai, na.’
‘No no, she can’t go for a movie. Iss saal boards hai na.’
The dreadful year when it is only customary to put everything on hold except perhaps limited bodily functions. Families who do not adhere to this tradition are ostracised by the rest:
‘Look at them – this is boards – still they are <despicable social activity>’
I am somewhat alarmed. I don’t want to cloister ourselves. I don’t want to stop living. I don’t want you to stop having fun.
What if you get lesser marks?
I don’t even know what that means. 95%? 90%? 80%? What is high? And what is low? And how does it matter?
Maybe you won’t get admission in a college with a 99.9% admission cut-off. And how does that also matter?
I know you are extremely sensible, balanced, intelligent and adorable. You will do well. You will discover what success is. And what comes disguised as success, but is really is not.
Success to me has been a career I thoroughly enjoyed, marrying my best friend, following my heart and writing books, knowing when to quit my job, excelling without fancy degrees, being able to say ‘no’, battling cancer with a smile, being able to forgive, being able to thank God every day, hugging my children without any expectations. And my marks in my board exam are not related to any of these.
I know you will know how to define success when the time comes. For the moment, here is what I want you to do, kyonki iss saal boards hai na:
- Write a song and give it a tune
- Have two kinds of fruit everyday
- Do your best
- Help a friend
- Make an old person smile
- Study smart, make powerful notes
- Dance in the rain
- Ask lots and lots of questions
- Build perspectives
- Watch the news
- Ask ‘Why not?’
- Watch the clouds
- Give a dream shape
- Use the internet creatively
- Learn to be happy
The last one is the most important. ‘Coz that’s the bottom line. When the time comes, enter the exam hall with a song on your lips, maybe the one you have composed. Enjoy every moment.
And, when the results come, remember, we will be watching not that piece of paper but our gorgeous daughter, who would have taken another leap towards being a beautiful human being.
I love you,
Pix by author.