I recently had an argument with two of my friends. Both of them were totally exclusive of the other. There was however a common sort of conclusion if I may say so, in both the arguments. I was misunderstood in what I said or asked. It was either the intonation or the exact words spoken. And this has been happening for a few days now, between me and my other friends too. Today however I was positive that I wasn’t at fault, yet however I did feel guilty and for some reason almost said sorry but held myself back. I then felt a tinge of the strange under-confidence.
Back when I was a kid, I remember having always been a below average kid at school. I come from a city where you have to be good in studies or you are pretty much useless. I guess that goes without saying for most countries and neighbourhoods with the amount of competition in the world today. But I remember being punished for not knowing math formulae or writing incorrect spellings in my essays in my language classes, or just not knowing which part of a cell breathes and which one shits, or not knowing result of the reaction between Methylene and Dichloro Phosphate in the presence of Zinc!
Yes I was a dumb kid. I used to spend half of my days looking out of the window at the construction workers laying bricks, building a wall or the cement grinder churning up concrete and the assembly of workers taking pots of concrete up the ladder to the brick-layer’s side. Or I was just busy dreaming myself as the warrior in the movie I’d seen the week before, or recollecting scenes from The Judgement Day and dreaming about Rambo: First Blood and how I loved his ability to just survive with a knife and nothing else.
“GET UP!!!” I would hear and loud laughter of all my friends around me, who couldn’t but find the fact that I was looking out of the window completely oblivious to my teacher calling me out for the past few seconds, funny as hell. Then came the stare down of the huge eyes followed by the words… full of anger, loathing and derision, in an attempt to inspire you to concentrate in the classroom and study well.
I wonder now, how did it ever appeal to my teachers that words of anger and sarcasm would ever inspire a child to do better. When has a word of ill-meaning ever done any good to anyone but a countable few. How can saying “You are a foolish rot who is a failure” ever sound inspiring to any person let alone a child in a school.
Those scenes are still stuck in my head, the stares and the humiliation of standing in the classroom looking down in shame and hearing all the choicest of opinion about your intellectual (dis)ability, accompanied by the appreciation for your peers who understand subjects better than you do, get grades better than you do, can speak in front of the class with more confidence than you can and much more.
What they failed to understand through their continuous punishments and (de)motivational lectures is that, today even though I have come as far as to have done a Master’s Degree in Science, I still can be made to stand on a bench with my head down and shouted at. The confidence just doesn’t seem to come. No matter what I achieve, I feel I shall never be able to live upto my own expectations, since I never lived up to anyone’s expectations as a kid. I cannot come to terms with the fact that I’m not worthless. I fail to realize my worth, my power, my intellect, my individuality. I still end up comparing myself with others, how much do they make, which comapny do they work for, which clubs are they members of, why can they sell more than I? Because my thought is governed by that. I was never told that each individual is perfect in the way he is.
If a janitor does his job well, there is great honor in it. That you needn’t be the next big thing in Engineering, pure sciences or politics to be successful. You can work at a steel factory for 35 years and be called great for your service to the industry and the company by playing the part that you played so well for so long! That failures are as good as successes. That not knowing math is not the end of the world.
Hence today, when I am told that I’m wrong, the first thing I do is look down and say sorry, almost as a reflex because I have been made to believe almost all my life that I can almost never be right. There are few things I have utmost conviction in my being right. The rest I don’t. And most of it is attributed to my teachers. As a result of which I found later that If I were attending a workshop or a class anywhere and there were simple questions that the presenter asked to the audience, I never raised my hand to tell the answer even though I knew a lot of times (if not all) the correct answer. Reason : I thought I was wrong, and I didn’t want to stand up and look down at my shoes and feel the humiliation of people giggling! It’s the exact same setting in my head.
I am almost invariably the first person to say sorry in a situation, so much that if someone said something wrong to me, I’d go and say “Sorry, I must’ve done something to provoke you to abuse me.”. Although later I’d come back home and be mad about having said sorry and wanting to get back and demand and apology instead of apologizing. But then that never happens.
I said sorry to both my friends even though I wasn’t completely at wrong. And none of them apologized for their part. It’s not about saying sorry between friends or expecting one. I know it sounds childish to expect friends to apologize. But I do feel that if I have the sense to genuinely apologize when I am wrong or when I am partly wrong, then it must be natural to everyone. Hence it feels odd when in such situations you end up apologizing and later thinking about it or writing about it, discover that hey, it was a shared blame, and only you seem to give a damn about it. It takes two to tango but guess you’re the only one dancing.
I shall call it a day! It’s been long since I wrote anything, and it’s sad that of all the wonderful things that have happened to my since my last post, it is this that I chose to write today but then I will read this a few months down the line and will probably smile at my foolishness or feel something totally new or just smile and close the window. Either way it will be an experience to look back at the self. So be it!
Drink up me hearties. Drink up!
For in the rum lies the drum and the roll… and who knows someday you’d be the rolling stone !