Secret to happiness: “My dog ate my homework”.

She wasn’t the brightest student in her class, but definitely was the happiest. Great parents, she had. While we habituated to burn midnight oils to get our lengthy home works done during high school, mostly she didn’t. She being punished was a maths class ritual. Whenever the teacher queried her for reasons, she wouldn’t respond. Shy, was she. And the teacher would then ask her to leave the class, happily she would. I came to know of her when she was titled an out-standing student. By the time she reached class 7 her performance stagnated at 40%. I remember her not being the brightest, but she still was the happiest. It was once that she failed in mathematics and eventually was dropped from our school. No one except her was happy. Wonder, if she was deaf to people’s opinion from a very young age.

We have been through our childhood doing things that we were at times forced to do. Classic example : we all had a friend who was a chess champion, an athlete, a dancer , a singer, a painter studying with us at our high school. It’s interesting how those artists disappear by the time Xth board exams arrive. Truth is, we are all forced to study. It’s a different story how we focus on producing mark machines from our high schools, so I bet there would have been times when you didn’t want to study yet were forced to study. About marks and grades, I still don’t understand how answering a specific set of question measure a student’s calibre, specially when its about children. Maybe we need some other examination structure aligned to check what we are visualizing today, if we reflect on DU admission cut-offs for a moment.

Analysing students approach to exams, some students learn the subject matter and write their answers in an examination environment, some get the answers memorized while some are simply geniuses who derive equations in exam hall then solve the questions within the stipulated timeframe. Wow, re-markable! And then there are students who never overcome the challenge to solve even a quarter question paper. The reasons are many if we discover why they don’t, or rather why they can’t when their friends can. The bottom-line is: we teach our kids how to achieve good marks, but we don’t teach them how to stay happy. Because we ourselves often spend a lifetime finding happiness.

As of today, many of today’s engineer grads get into the IT sector, while an interesting portion do get into banking (yes, banking. Don’t ask me why, I am equally clueless). Amongst those software engineers I see a lot of people trying hard to achieve success at the cost of happiness. Career growth makes them compromise with their personal lives. Dates with partners are eclipsed by production launches, weekends are mostly about equating previous week’s sleep deprivation. Outings are restricted to watching movies or dinner with few friends. Basically catching up with life, that one didn’t live during weekdays. Every corporate office has innate photographers, painters, musicians, dancers all engaged in cultivating code on an eclipse or a visual studio probably. And they are mostly the ones who vanish during Xth board exams.

Personal choices; we all make, it’s tragic that one can’t make another fellow human stay happy.If you have wondered life long finding your share of eternal happiness, you might have as well planned to take a trip to The Himalayas sometime; provided your leaves get approved. Trust me, if my friend were a developer she wouldn’t have sacrificed her happiness or rather life at the cost of her promising career. What’s more important in life? paycheque or life itself? Girlfriend’s kiss or Delivery manager’s appreciation? When do you feel better, weekends or weekdays? And before you tag my friend as an unambitious foolish girl let me enlighten you with a fact that she is a happy doctor these days, happiest since childhood and as of today probably the brightest amongst her classmates, as long as she isn’t challenged to solve a 1/3–2/3 conjecture. Unaware I am, if she did play under a sacred banyan tree in her childhood. If not, then she didn’t do what she didn’t like to do. Today, whenever required, she does her tasks or else politely replies back “sir, my dog ate my homework” and reassigns the task to someone else who feels happy doing it.

photocredit: Manas Sahoo

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