This is my fifth story for World Pulse. If I ever turn out to be a writer of some repute, I won't fail to acknowledge World Pulse for making me believe in myself exactly the way Anushka or Anu in short, the protagonist of the story succeeded against heavy odds due to her self-belief.
With warm regards,
Self-Belief for Life.
“You’re the one who forcefully admitted her in our school for the Science Stream…” my elder daughter shot at me sitting from the sofa. She was mad at everything that was happening to her lovely sister lately and held me the prime culprit for the hard time of her dearest sister's life.
“Okay, Riya, we’ll see what you’ve to say about your sister once her ICSE results are out and she gets above 75 percent in all the science subjects…” I cut in trying to keep my cool. We all were sitting in the dining room at the dining table discussing my younger daughter’s pathetic performance in the Mid-Year Exams in her school. Both my elder daughter and my wife concurred that admitting Anu, my younger daughter for the science stream was the mistake of the century.
“You’ve been a fantastic dad. The moment you realized that there was a dip in her performance; you sent her packing back home. Why didn’t you keep her with you like a concerned father should if you had so much trust in the abilities of your younger daughter?” My wife chipped in tauntingly then. She looked hurt at what was happening to the daughter, who had been her pet from the time she was a toddler.
I felt frustrated. It’s true that I washed my hands off my daughter the moment I realized that she was neglecting her studies, paying more importance to things like class decoration, scouting and so on. After my elder daughter qualified for standard XI, we decided to have her study in a school down in my hometown, Kolkata. We’d a harrowing time as most of the schools in Kolkata like Calcutta Girls School, Pratt Memorial, Bidya Bharati and Modern School for Girls straight away denied admission as my daughters had been studying in a Bhutanese school all their lives. Finally, Calcutta Public School turned out to be our saviour by willing to admit her provided we could produce all her documents on time before registration with the ISC Board.
The pathetic experience taught us a lesson and my wife and I decided to take my younger one down without any further delay and admit her in the same school. We decided to make the shift once Anu’d completed her Mid-Year Exam in her school. Used to leading a happy-go-lucky kind of life till then, she started missing her mother. But more than her mother, what really shot her at the heart was her sis, Riya’s absence. No more the same girl, Anu fared miserably in the Mid-Year Exam but all my colleagues tried to defend her by saying that she wasn’t all that serious about her exam. The day she got admitted in Calcutta Public School, she had to sit for the Entrance Test. Though she secured good marks in English, her performance in Maths was horrendous. Finally, I’s made to write an application to the Principal stating that Anu had been a good student all her school life and she’d definitely do well once she had the taste of the new curriculum in the new school. Soon she started showing remarkable improvement in most of the subjects including History, she had studied about Bhutan History since PP and studying about The Mughal or Mauryan Empire might not have been all that easy for someone whose knowledge of Indian History till then was nil.
But her performance in the Annual Exam was anything but satisfactory. That was when my wife and elder daughter started opining that it was a big mistake to force Anu into opting for the science Stream. She was cut out to be an Arts student. She’d always been a topper in English, History, and Geography. I’s getting extremely apprehensive from inside. Was it really a blunder on my part to try to admit her for the science steam? I’d my own reasons for such an action. Firstly, in today world, any student who opts for Arts or Commerce for the matter, has less chance of making it big in life as the one studying Science. Secondly, I’ve always felt, despite my elder daughter’s brilliant performance in the Board Examination that Anu was more intelligent and street smart than Riya. With the right kind of guidance and tuitions, she was bound to make her mark as a science student. Was I ruining her career at the start? Was I trying to assert my authority as her father and head of the family?
Anu had changed a lot since coming back to Kolkata. An introvert to the core, she tried her best to do well in her studies initially. But her best efforts in the new environment were not enough. Her teachers were also not making things easier for her at school, continuously finding faults with her Bengali (she never had to study her mother tongue till standard-IX!) as her mother tongue was not even an optional subject in Bhutan. Gradually, she started losing interest and her loss of interest got reflected in her performance. Things came to such a pass that one afternoon, after her private tutor had left, Anu complained of a severe headache to her mother. She thought her daughter was playacting and did not take it seriously. Next day, in the Unit Test, Anu left all the questions unanswered and submitted the blank paper to her teacher. When the result was out and she was awarded a zero, Mita, her mother, couldn’t believe it. As a certain percentage of the Unit Test marks are added to the final result, she lodged a complaint to the school authorities. She was greatly bewildered when the concerned subject teacher showed Anu’s blank paper to her mother. Angry, ashamed, frightened of how she was going to justify Anu’s performance to me, she vented it out on her daughter. It was only then that Anu told her that she found it difficult to call up to mind all the required information for all the subjects.
Mita in consultation with Riya, decided to consult a Counsellor then. She thought of keeping it a secret from her husband, thinking that I’d simply abhor the very idea of my daughter, my daughter, mind you, being taken to a counsellor for her poor performance in the exams. I made a scene when Anu informed me about the visit to the Counsellor. I didn’t even spare her and threatened her if her performance in the Board Examination was not up to the mark.
No one seemed to understand her problem, no one including her sister, Riya, who was her best friend as well. Anu withdrew into a shell and gone was the Colgate smile from her face. A grim exterior replaced the childish girl of yore. She would be seen trying to swot notes at odd hours. She would wake up in the middle of the night and start studying. One night, after witnessing the fearful sight of Anu doing her Maths homework at around 2.30 at night, I felt pity on her. A few weeks before the Board Exam, when Anu, after coming back home from her Computer class, fainted and had to be admitted to Children’s’ Hospital subsequently, the doctors tried to help us retain our composure by saying that she was suffering from a disease which was the result of insomnia, indigestion and depression. That’s when I prayed to God to let my Anu live long and a healthy life.
Anu persevered against all odds and completed her exams without much ado. When her mother asked her about the day’s paper, all she would say was that she had tried her best. Her result in the Board Exam was outstanding. Her performance did not only surprise her teachers at school but also the people close to her. Anu taught me a great lesson of never pressurising your children for fulfilling your own unfulfilled dreams. She also taught me that self-belief is the most important component of a successful career and life. May The Almighty continue to shower all His blessings on learners like Anu, who survive against heavy odds, owing mainly to their amazing self-confidence.
This post was submitted in response to Ushering in Peace in 2018.