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Opinion » musings

Posted at: Sep 14, 2017, 12:38 AM; last updated: Sep 14, 2017, 12:38 AM (IST)

Quite off the mark

Mahesh Grover
Quite off the mark

Mahesh Grover

I pored over my son’s report card while he stood before me, nervously wringing his hands trying to manage his discomfort and my frayed nerves, as he anxiously watched various shades of expressions raging across my face. 

I was about to explode with anger, but the memories of yore came flooding back to me, when I stood similarly in front of my father, with my report card while he assuaged his frayed nerves by giving me a whack, singeing my cheek with its impact. 

Being a modern-day pacifist parent, who believes in sparing the rod, I took a deep breath, counted to 10, peered over my specs and spoke tersely: ‘Look son, your marks in maths are of concern. If you want to succeed in life, pull up your socks. When I was in school, I never wilted in any subject,’ echoing words handed down from generation to generation in every Indian household, no matter whether the person uttering it has himself gone beyond high school or not. Just then, I happened to glance at my wife who, while maintaining a discreet presence in the room, was looking at me sceptically. ‘Oh really?’

‘Err! What do you mean, I was always a good student, though once in a while, I didn’t get marks as per my parents’ expectations but they always surpassed my own,’ I asserted. 

I could understand her scepticism,  for she is a maths wizard, as I discovered when she dealt with our house contractor. He and I were trying to settle accounts. While we struggled with the measuring tape and elementary maths, she was quick to conclude the dimensions and the amount to be paid, with the poor man looking as if a wall of bricks had fallen on him when he realised that the amount fell way short of his calculations. 

I put on a brave face, now that my credibility had been questioned before my offspring, who looked at me strangely, quickly placing himself stoically next to the lady, his arms across his chest and an impertinent smirk on his face.  

I had to prove them wrong. With my chin up, I went scurrying into the past treasures I had saved as a boy. After much rummaging, I found my old report cards and proudly confronted her with proof of my academic abilities. ‘There, see for yourself!’ I said as I stood before her seeking redemption of my honour, while she scanned the results of my labour with lips pursed, only to set aside the card disdainfully and say what comes naturally to a teacher, ‘It’s all right, but you could have done better.’

I felt the same sinking feeling engulf me, when my parents and teachers appraised my report. 

Chastened, I quietly slunk into a corner of the room, to join my sulking son and there we sat empathising with each other, forging a bond which people sailing in the same boat normally develop.


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