In the last chapter, I spoke about how smile can set everything straight, but it was not always right. For instance, imagine smiling after a slap in the face, then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day. It is easier said than done. During this phase of my life, I tried to be as positive as possible but life was not kind.
For a student in India, Class 12 is the gateway to his career. We all know this, but very few put in their heart and soul in preparation. I was distracted way too much during this phase. That year my father quit his job and so he spent all his time at home. It became so uneasy for me to spend all my time at home with my father around. I tried hard for a month or so, to put in efforts in my studies, but it didn’t work. I was unable to study, as every time I picked my book up, he will call me to do something in the kitchen (as he took up the cooking duties from my mother after he quit his job) or will send me to the grocery store to buy something.
A child should not complain for being asked to do the household work. I have never protested in my life with my father, and being asked to do the household work can never be a reason to protest. However the problem is not doing the work, but despite doing the work getting beaten up for not doing it up to his desirable perfection. From cutting onions to grinding the batter for idly, I literally got beaten up for everything. Ever since my father quit his job the fights between my father and mother became stronger and more eventful. My sister had the privilege of having asthma, so they never beat her or scolded her, and I eventually became their only venue to vent their anger and frustration. It became very difficult for me to study after being beaten up so badly for no mistake of mine.
This went on for a few months, everything in the school was smooth, I was given more marks than what I deserved. However I found it very hard to sit in the school for 8 hours before going back home. I wanted a change after leaving home in the morning and the school did not provide me with that change. So I started collecting money and once I accumulated 10 rupees, I bunked the school and went to movies during school time. Sometimes depending on the money I had, I even watched two movies in a row.
The bicycle that I had was an old one without a lock. Once, I went to a theater nearby, I parked my bicycle and went to the movie, and when I came back my cycle was missing. It is very difficult to explain my state of mind at that point of time. I was so scared, sweating profusely and my whole body became heavy, making it difficult for me to move or think. There was no way out for me, I cannot go home and tell my father that I lost my bicycle. He would ask me where I lost it. There is no way I can say as School, as he will go to the school and will make an issue out of it. In addition to that he will also find out that I have not only bunked the school that day but also several other days. I can never tell him that I went to movie after bunking the school and lost my bicycle there. I was contemplating all the possible options and was on the verge of breaking down. Then I told the ticketing guys about my missing cycle, then the watchman came and told me that he has placed the bicycle inside as there was no lock in it and he placed it inside for keeping it securely. With a mighty relief, I fled that place as fast as I could thinking about all the eventualities had I lost the cycle. Suddenly another bicycle which was going ahead changed its course and I crashed on it and fell down and broke the front tooth of mine. My right calf got badly bruised and with much difficulty I went home. When I thought that the day cannot get any worse, I was proved wrong. My father noticed the extensive damage in the mud guard of the cycle and beat me so badly that day. I was beaten so badly that my body became almost numb.
I tried to sleep that day, but it was really hard to sleep when you are in so much of pain both physically and mentally. There was no logical solution for my miseries, I cannot elope and lead a happy life, I did not have a single penny and did not have the courage to face the world by myself. At the same time I cannot remain as a punching bag for my father and mother everyday. The only logical solution for this seemed to be death, however I was scared of dying. I was contemplating all the possible ways of dying and then shortlisted the pain-less ways. No single way was satisfying, but then it was dawn already and I started getting ready to school. It was then that I noticed the extent of the damage of my teeth (From that day on I always had that complex when I speak or laugh with my friends around). In School we went to the chemistry lab that day and an idea struck. There was seliniumdioxide in a bottle with a poison symbol at the back. I took two pellets of it and dropped it in my pocket. I thought of swallowing it then, however I changed my mind and took it home. I swallowed it before going to bed. I was so scared and terrified to sleep and was wondering if I will ever wake up again, if I sleep. Since I did not sleep the previous day, I could not control my sleep and I slept.
The next morning I woke up, to find that I was alive, I did not even experience a bad stomach. I then decided not to do any such activity again, as fear of death is far worse than the pain that I endured. Few days later there was a seminar by IIPE (it was a training institute for students taking up common entrance exam for Engineering and Medicine). It was then that I learnt about the break ups, cut-offs and stuff like that. I was so keen in joining that training institute after the exams. I told my mother about it and requested her to send me to that institute. The main difference between my mother and father is, my father with say ‘No’ straight away, so I will not build any false hopes. However my mother is different; if I ask her for a note book, she will promise me of getting 10 notebooks, but will never buy even a paper. If I try reminding her again about the notebook, she will then shout at me so badly that my father will come and slap me twice to calm her down.
So, the moment she said ‘Yes’ for the training institute, I knew that it would never happen. However we always have hope (mostly illogical), I was hoping against all reason, for getting in to that institute for preparing for the entrance exams. I put in some efforts for the public exam over the last few days and did them reasonably well. The exams were over and I was not sent to any entrance exam coaching centers, while all my friends went to some institute or the other. Without much preparation I went for the entrance exams, I did reasonably well as I was generally strong in maths and science.
The results came and I scored 92% in the public exam (Which is not a great percentage in Tamil Nadu), scored 199 in maths and 185 and 188 in physics and chemistry respectively. I was not happy with the marks, however the marks are a fair indication of the kind of efforts that I put in. The entrance results came and my performance was better than anyone else and despite my poor show in the public exam my overall rank was 1700. I out ranked all of my school mates except Ashwin and Sudha. Ashwin also had a good total and opted for BITS Pilani, instead of the colleges in Tamil Nadu. Sudha joined a dental college. My only aim then was to leave Chennai and my home (I wanted to join REC Trichy). However my father had a few conditions, he wanted me to opt for a govt college so the fees would be minimal, and that college should be in Chennai so that I can remain as a day scholar. That effectively meant that I can only opt for Anna University. He did not accompany me and asked my mother to take me to Anna University. I went for the counselling (on the second day), I had good number of seats in many colleges, I was confused between opting for Chemical Engineering and Textile Technology. There were two seats for Chemical Engineering in BC Quota and but Textile Engineering seats were not opted by anyone until then. I never wanted to use my quota anywhere, another thing is I wanted to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond. Had I opted for Chemical engineering, I would have had this feeling of competing with people who were superior to me.
And thus ended my complex school life ranging over 12 schools, hundreds of classmates, lot of misery, unforgettable experiences and a few friends.