Posted by: Mojo Jojo | April 18, 2007

Growing Pains


“I find my life is a lot easier, the lower I keep everyone’s expectations.”
– Calvin and Hobbes (Bill Watterson)

Childhood ambitions, according to me, are grossly overrated. I mean, who, other than our Abdul “the goof-up” Kalam, can think of anything beyond the neighbourhood candy-store at the tender age of six?
Sadly, my parents subscribed to a different opinion from mine. And so did the thousands of irritating ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’ who came visiting when I was a kid, making monkey-faces and pinching my cheeks while slobbering: “Yumminiyooopiyoom konchipooo… you loooook ccchooooo chhweeet. Whaaat do you wannt to be when you groooow up, waawaa?”
And I, irritated at being subjected to such humiliation, would mutter something akin to “Hoobliglumchun… yurrraaa.. hey! Leggo!”
Not that I wasn’t old enough to make coherent noises back then; it was just that nobody could possibly be expected to make himself understood while having his cheeks punctured in such a heinous fashion. Not I, at least.
Anyways, this had to stop … so, one fine day, I decided to become a doctor.
But if you thought it made things better, well… think again. It made my dad come up with a new excuse to make me study: “You have to study hard to become a doctor! Throw that comic away and get back to your science books!”
No, becoming a doctor was not my cuppa tea. Who wants to cut people open and mess around with their medulla oblongatas anyway?!
I was a big fan of Major James Bigglesworth back then, and so I decided to become him.
When I suggested this to my dad, he was quite impressed. “But, you know, pilots need to know mathematics… and so, I need to see an improved grade when I next get your report card.”
I got the weird feeling that this wasn’t going to work either. A monkey was better at junior trignometry than me. So I decided to bring my dreams down to earth and become a bus driver.
Only it didn’t impress the ‘aunties’ much. And even as they let go of my cheeks (which had become a curious strawberry-red by then) with a sullen sigh, my parents tried to change the subject by offering them more tea.
That night, daddy-o towered over me and said, “You better try to become something reasonable. Or you might find yourself in a bus sooner than you think.”
This was seriously scary. I had to come up with a new job to have in the future (how stupidly ridiculous!!) or leave the house with my dog and a knapsack. I had to come up with something… fast!
“I KNOW! I’ll become a journalist! Like Tintin! Yeah, really! I mean it!”
Miraculously, my dad seemed to like the idea. And he left me to myself for the next few days.

Growing Up With Dad

I never was any good in school. Homework was usually copied from a friend’s notebook five minutes before the morning prayer, and — most of the time — the idiot would have gotten all the answers wrong.
Exams? Don’t even ask… answer sheets painted in red would invariably find their way deep into the earth’s bowels just hours after they were distributed in class.
And the fact that my dad was the school principal did not help. No sir.
Let’s see, the only time my parents seemed marginally happy with me in school was when I once bit a teacher on the hand.
This was how it happened. The lady, one Mrs Ahluwalia, had found out I had once again forgot to put in my homework. So there, she stretched her hand, caught me by the ear (hard) and started screaming into it: “IF YOU GO ON LIKE THIS,YOU WILL FAIL! FAIL! FAIL!”
Now, my ear was hurting something real bad. So, I did the only thing I could do in the circumstances — I grabbed her other hand, which was holding my face, and bit hard. By the time I was through, her hand seemed like it had been through a heavy-duty mangler.
She went hysterical. And seeing the way she was bawling, so did I. And the class watched spell-bound as Mrs Ahluwalia and I indulged in a grotesque wailing contest that could have put the Sirens to shame.
The commotion brought the other teachers, including my dad, by the horde. And Mrs Ahluwalia pointed a finger at me and screamed: “HE…. HE BIT ME WHEN I SAID HE WOULD FAIL!
Of course, she had to skip the part about pinching me on the ear. How can one dare admit physical assault on the principal’s son!?
Though I was treated the choices swipes of the grand ol’ cane that day, I am sure that my dad was secretly pleased that I had gone so far as to bite somebody at the very mention of ‘failure’.
I did not have the heart to tell him otherwise. Or show him my strawberry ear.

The Twelfth Night

By the time I reached my pre-degree, I had proved beyond doubt that I was destined to go into the mountains and live like a caveman.
“Let him do whatever he wants,” I could hear my parents telling each other on occasions, their voices shrouded in disappointment, “We have done all we can.”
Now, it’s not as if I didn’t sympathise …. but hey, some people just aren’t meant to become Microsoft founders — I can’t help that!
But I did not know how much I had lowered their expectations for me until the results of my HSSC examinations came out in 1998, my marks averaging just 2 per cent more than what was needed to pass.
All the way from the college, I wondered how I would tell this terrible news to my dad. And finally, when I found myself face to face with him, he roared: DID YOU GET THROUGH?
“I got 52 per cent,” I mumbled inaudibly.
“DID YOU PASS?!” he roared again.
This time I spoke a little louder, “I passed… I got 52 per cent…”
I didn’t get slapped, there was no blood-letting either. Instead, my loving father roared with happiness and said: “He passed! He managed to pass! See, I told you he would pass! This calls for a party!”
Somehow, this joyful reaction from him depressed me even further. And feeling like a total scum, I went straight to my room and cried myself to sleep.

But, All’s Well That…

Now, nearly eight years later, I find myself on the newsdesk of a reputed newspaper, working as a journalist.
I ain’t no Tintin, and I ain’t got no dog that helps me capture Al Capone, but hey! I love my job… and my life’s shaping out quite well.

Thank you, O Fate!

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Responses

  1. you give me hope for the future, my future 😀 and that was such a fun read in the morning!

  2. o good.
    i liked the “some people arent just made to be microsoft founders”. Once i started accepting that, i started enjoying life much more.
    but better, now i actually am doing fine, and the parents are quite proud too.

  3. W-o-W!!!!
    you dont know what u ve done..U given
    a soul like u a big big hope..:)
    Thank you..

    And yeah wonderfully written..cool style man..
    and now it really calls for a party I guess;)

  4. Babelfish: I gave you hope for the future… really? Hey, thanks! But it’s true, you know – If I could make it through, anybody can 😉

    ab: Yeah, you are quite right. And somehow, it always works out in the end 😀

    Stand: Thanks, dude! Glad I could help, even if it just meant recalling a few sordid experiences from my childhood 😉

  5. I’m quite the opposite — I was did quite well in school, and now, 5 years out of school, I’m still nowhere near my dreams and ambitions. And that’s only because I’m stuck doing what’s only expected of me. If I were to pursue my dreams, it would have to wait because I still have a lot to prove to others. And unfortunately, I’m stuck in this school of thought. I would love to be a writer one day… the problem is, I don’t think I have enough cajones to push for it.

  6. lovely JJ…
    dont even get me started on dads and their high hopes….i could write pages about that…haa
    and interesting that you knew long ago that u wanted to be a journalist.. as for me, it wasnt until I finished my first masters degree that I knew i wanted to be a counselor.

  7. Ha ha, good stuff as usual man. By the way, which paper are you referring to?:)

  8. 🙂
    Hello little jiminy cricket!
    What a morning. Mac’s post made me cry and then your post made me laugh. Luvvvverly!!!

    P.S. ‘reputed newspaper’?? kind of an oxymoron, ain’t that?

  9. never loose hope. 🙂

    sharad

  10. u passed?? high school?? kidding..I can see a bit of me in you..homework five minutes before the morning prayers..and when they were too long,,I’ve even faked stomach ache and stayed back to finish the homework..Now thats how sincere I was ;-)..

    nice..

  11. You have a pretty good sense of comic timing! I am a fan now!

  12. @ Mac: Actually, I never knew that I would actually become a journalist when I was a kid. That was simply something to keep the aunties away.
    The very fact that I have become what I once said I will is a result of the craziest twist of irony 😉
    Glad you became a counselor, though. Always wondered what you would become after that five years of philosophy in MCC 🙂

    @ Prem: Ha ha! Referring to DH, of course. Haven’t joined Mirror yet, so I wouldn’t comment on that…

    @ 3inOne: ‘Reputed newspaper’ is an oxymoron? Now, now … you’re making me feel bad about my chosen profession 😛
    Glad you liked it, Liz. But really, they were quite a pain when they were happening. The uncertainty, all the expectations – they are very tough to cope with, especially when you are a kid.

    @ Sharad: Exactly my point, Sharad 😀

    @ Dil: Homework just before the morning prayers were a real pain. Sometimes, I would forget to copy whole steps of a math equation and still arrive at the right answer.
    Which would make teachers apprehend my crime and, later, whack the boos outta me.

    @ Lucifer: Really? Thanks man… and I really liked that Satan Inside logo!

  13. @ Princess: Expectations can prove to be rather bad if they stop you from achieving your goal, I’m sure.
    My parents wanted me to join some science course after my 12th… and I’m sure that if I had done that, I would still have been trying to clear my arrears right now. Really, I would like to thank my dad for letting me take up MA Litt, and then opting for Journalism.
    It must have been hard on him back then, but I’m sure he feels okay about me now 🙂
    And hey! You got everything it takes to become a writer. I ain’t no authority on that, but take my word for it…

  14. Hi Jimmy, loved your post! Since I’ve been with a ‘reputed newspaper’ myself for the last 5 years and I can vouch for the fact that, well, you need no qualifications to be a journalist! Lol! That’s what we joke about in office when we’re awfully depressed about our directionless careers!

  15. Jim,
    Heeee.. I worked with a ‘reputed newspaper’ for ten years:-)

    And I can imagine the heartaches of trying to figure out what you wanted to do when you were a kid, but the point is, here you are making us laugh and enjoy ourselves. That is quite a gift you have!!

  16. @ Me: O so totally, totally agree! In my ‘reputed newspaper’, we have people from just about anywhere. Even software engineers and rocket scientists who double up as sub-editors…. and needless to say, we all are total losers out there 😉
    But pssst! Don’t tell my dad!

    @ 3inOne: Which one were you in? Lemme know… way I have been jumping companies over the last few years, I m sure I must have spent some time there too 🙂
    And you say my funnies work? THANkS, mannn!!!!

  17. @Jim
    The one you’re joining!!

  18. The writing style is so lively that the words seem to jump right out of the page. Jim, this is one good thingy you are doing… Making us think while writing a really entertaining post 🙂

  19. Jimmy,
    How do you get”Subscribe to this blog’ message to appear? I am techno challenged and have no idea how to do it.

  20. @ Blackbeard: Hey thanks a lot! Glad to know I m succeeding 🙂

    @ 3inOne: Subscribe to this blog? I didn’t put it there … it seemed to come all by itself! Weird…

  21. This post came highly recommended and i see why! NICE 🙂

  22. hey, i’ve noticed this wierd thing… dat rankers in school land up doin average somethin or nothin/ and thoe 60% ppl n backbenchers always “achieve”

    Scores somehow seems to’ve nothin to do wit practical abilities in life except in some cases…. whn you grow up watchin ppl doin somethn at other end and trying hard urself… u landing up working hard enf to achieve.

    i am happy 4 ya…


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