My Life My Rules

We saw in the last article my friend’s journey prior to her failure in the 12th board examinations. She had become suicidal, but then chose to live. This is an excerpt of my conversation with her.

My friend said she was numb as she took the marksheet and headed back to her parents. She could not look up and could sense them steeling themselves as they saw her face and her demeanour. They took the marksheet from her stiff fingers and gently hurried her out of the gate. She knew her classmates were looking at her even though her eyes were lowered. Thankfully no one stopped them. The three of them got on their scooter, with her fitting her petite frame between her parents. Her parents were saying something- “it is ok”, “don't worry”, “we will go for rechecking” …. She baulked at the prospect of rechecking. She knew she would probably get lower marks if possible.

She wondered what her parents were thinking and feeling. She knew how shattered they were. But strangely they seemed very controlled. She was afraid for her father. Would he be able to drive carefully when his mind was filled with pain. He was in pain. Of that she had no doubt.

My friend paused. I could see the memory of that day was still as fresh and even though she had dealt with it admirably and had gone on to have a successful career; there was a lingering pain.

I recognized that pain. It was her failure, but the hurt her parents were going through. And as though she read my mind, she said, “I wish they scolded me”. “But they just kept their grief to themselves”. The next few days were a blur. She did not know who came, who said what. She was unable to recall what she did, how she managed to sit with the rest of the family during mealtimes. She said she remembered nothing. She stayed cooped in her room staring into space. Her parents and relatives would ask her what happened, why she failed, had she not studied well, did she need tuition.... She just sat in a stony silence.

The advisory committee comprising of her parents, relatives, neighbours and friends, and parents of her friends, all encouraged her to go for a retest. She went through the proceedings blankly. She could not tell them she was not able to process anything. They were still hopeful. She could hear them say she was a bright child, maybe there was some error in checking, maybe she had become nervous. She could not bring herself to tell them, she just could not understand. The concepts were alien to her. And now, she would simply stare at the book. Her parents thought she was studying. They were confident. This time, their daughter would prove to the world that the previous situation was simply bad luck.

She felt desperate. Should she tell them? Will they understand? What should she do? She just could not focus. She tried to remember what had gone wrong. Ah yes! Her parents quarreled incessantly. Strangely, that had stopped. It was as though now they had a common goal- to get their daughter to pass. So perhaps it was a good thing she failed. But on the other hand, if they had not quarreled, maybe this would not have happened. She felt her headache coming back. She had begun to get frequent headaches.

She could not understand why she could not focus on her studies now that there was a degree of peace in the house. She found herself avoiding people, avoiding her family members. She would not go to birthday parties or weddings. People always asked how she was, whether she was studying or not. She was ashamed of meeting her successful friends. She knew some of the dimbulbs had passed. They were in college. While she was….

She went through the motions of getting up, eating, sitting at the table to ‘study’, more tuition, and sleeping. No one noticed that her appetite had dropped. She could not sleep well either.

The retest was a couple of months later. Her parents and friends carefully evaded asking her about the exams. They were afraid to disturb her. She had gone to collect her marksheet alone. This time there was no fanfare. It did not matter. She knew the result before she even went for her exams. And she knew it as she held her marksheet. She had failed yet again. She could not cry. She was dead on the inside.

My Life My Rules Part-1
My Life My Rules Part-3
My Life My Rules Part-4

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