Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A different kind of drama

The other day, I "reconnected" with someone from my school who was known to be brilliant but was always pushed hard by her parents for that one extra mark she couldn't get. I imagine there was a showdown every time she took home the report card. That reminded me of the comically different situation in my family.

Just for some background, when I was growing up, I took my exams way too seriously. To be precise, I was your perfect Debbie Downer meets the evening-before-the-big-exam-drama-queen. For years, my family patiently put up with my obsession to ace every single exam, made worse by strong pessimism about how I was actually going to do in them.

Inevitably, national engineering entrance exams happened. I enrolled in this soul-crushing course called Brilliant Tutorials. True to their name, they are only meant for out-of-this-world brilliant people who shouldn't even need to take their course. Now most people I knew, myself included, never got past 20/100 in their tests. (Although, there was always some brilliant rascal from Chennai who managed to score a 90/100 and made you feel like an insect.) In those days, people wrote on paper, and results were sent in snail-mail. On one occasion, things played out like this (10 years ago):

Me: Mom, did the Brilliant guy send my exam papers home? Everyone in school go theirs 3 days ago. Are you sure the watchman/postman/you didn't miss them?
Mom: (avoiding eye contact) No, I didn't see any.
Me: How come everyone else got them? Do you think they lost my papers? Oh my God! They lost my papers! (looking close to tears).
Mom: (Looks helplessly at my brother who's the worst liar on earth.)
Me: What is it? Are you hiding something from me?
Mom: (Reaches for papers under the sofa cushion.) They came in the other day just before you walked in from school. There wasn't enough time so I hid them beneath the cushion.. (voice trails off)
Me: I got only 14?!! What the hell! I can't believe you did this to me!
Mom: I'm so sorry, nanna. I didn't want you to get upset.. (sheepishly)

Now that's a scene you don't find in most Indian households - parents hiding their child's results! Whether it was done out of love or out of fear of the drama queen is debatable ;) but I will say this - I couldn't have asked for a cooler family who never believed that my grades defined me, or that bad grades are a good reason to get upset.

P.S.: "Shortened" and republished for brevity's sake.


  1. I once got a 6 :( though there was a 31 once :)

  2. That was a good one! I remember those days and 'those' exams. My parents were also among the 'hiding' ones... But I wonder why we were so much obsessed with 'marks'...

  3. Though a good question is... are u over ur "I have to ace every exam" thing? I sure am not :(

  4. @Medhini - Yeah, I don't know why I thought it was a life goal either. My brother even gave me the advice that nobody would ever ask for my 10th board marks, so why work so hard? I never listened but he was right :)
    @Tanz - Hon, learn from my experience. Face it. Nobody's really interested in your grades in an MBA program :) I am kinda over it. Did I mention I failed my CFA? :D

  5. Hats off 2 ur parents!

  6. I had the same obsession for a long time! I definitely am over it now :-)

  7. Yeah, I would totally recommend running from a job interview where they spend any amount of time talking about grades (the only exception could be if they want to make sure you crossed a threshold level e.g. 3.0/4.0, but it has to stop there)

  8. @Anonymous1: Yep, that's them!
    @Chandana: Glad we're all a little wiser now :)
    @Anonymous2: Agreed. When hiring, it's just good GPA or not. Those at the top get categorized as 'good' just like those around 3.5, so in the grand scheme of things, a B or C here or there really doesn't matter.

  9. That was a good post! I remember my days at Brilliant. I think a part of me still hates that keeda who got 90 out of 100! ;)
    Loved your blog! You are going on my Reader! :)

  10. Hey Preeti! Yes, totally understandable if you've got something against the 90/100 types who shattered (what was left of) the 'aam junta's' confidence :D. Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment! Keep visiting!

  11. I can totally relate...was one of such kids myself...and my parents, among these cool folks :)
    not only studies, they are so open minded just about anything!...miss them

  12. Do wish there were more parents like this. I know someone who ran away from home (well, she tried to) because she came second in class! My folks were okay with whatever results I got as long as I put in a certain amount of effort :-)

  13. @Mansi, Chinkurli - Agree. Thing is, I think even without our parents goading us about our ranks/marks, I think we've done well for ourselves in life. I don't think that any added pressure from my parents about my 8th grade rank, for instance, would've made me a more "successful" person in any way.

  14. *giggles helplessly*

    Only you. I tell you, only you.

  15. Now I'm curious as to who you met.