Testing times
   Date :27-Mar-2019

By Biraj Dixit,

Memories - a flood, whose raging waters often inundates parched souls and fills the living with life! It can light up dim corridors, clear hazy rooms, open tightly shut windows, and flutter back pages of long forgotten notebooks. It can bring to life mirth and laughter, zing and zest, frolic and fortitude and can also awaken ghosts of despair and despondency, time’s many tirades, life’s many tests. Of late, I myself am frequenting forgotten bylanes often. I am again passing through those dim corridors, hazy rooms, shut windows and happy staircases but there is no time for nostalgia.
I must hurry and look into those dark corners to have some light. School, wonderful and fun-filled as it was, did impart something called knowledge and that is what I am looking for in the darker alleys of my memory. Rather than safe-keeping, I had dumped ‘things’ here, knowing that willingly I would not touch them again. Alas! When is life such a ‘willing’ business? But where am I to find LCMs, HCFs, ratios, life cycles of (I don’t know why I must learn) animals, human body with ball-and-socket joints, ants and their pheromone trail, what to eat to prevent scurvy and goiter etc etc etc? I mean I did go to school and they did teach me all those things but after hard mugging, I had spilled the entire knowledge on those sheets of paper, which, in turn, had declared me ‘passed’. I had hoped that these things would never tres-pass my life again. Alas! These ghosts have reappeared and as hard as I search the darkest corner of my memory, I fail to present an answer.
I should not have thrown them away that hard! But now, I must recollect fast or would be relegated from ‘know-all Mom to ‘Know-nothing Mom.” As those probing eyes, with great propensity to love and hate instantly and in similar degrees, search for answers on my face, my confident veneer is giving way. Being a mother is a messy business. You have to live up to it every second of your life adjusting to turbulence outside. To anybody else, I would have declared, “I can hardly remember,” with a shrug of a shoulder or a wave of hand, but not to this little lady who has often been at the receiving end of my prolonged lectures on ‘importance of education,’ ‘learning, not mugging’, ‘complete concentration’ and ‘ways for timely recollection’. One cannot make the difference between practice and preach, such a see-through affair, can one? So, a mom must know how to find an LCM – the lowest common multiple and also the ways to keep a little distracted soul attentive of the multiples. A mom must know math and child psychology.
She must stand as the LCM between the two. So like a good mom, I am looking into human body for strange joints, I am studying living habits of various animals and reading about nutrients like never before. Then again we live in an age of lost innocence. Good old values of unquestioned reverence to seniority are nowhere to be seen these days. When we were young, our seniors had our complete submission by brow-beating alone. Now again, we are being beaten by little raised brows! Ours is perhaps the most miserable generation. The elders had the say, when we were young; the youngsters listen to nothing that we say, now that we are the elders. My daughter, though, has her suspicion about my being so submissive. Sometimes, even I doubt that. But those doors of my memory are locked with keys thrown in the ocean. So the matter rests. Children, they say, are God’s way of getting back at you. Mugged and spilled, now learn again, that is His command for me and this little devil is keeping a tight watch on me on His behalf.
“Not in this lifetime!” I had declared to many seeming impossible-to-learn answers. In this very lifetime, they have presented themselves again to me and I must consider them with highest regard if the knowledge is to be passed on to the next generation. “Over my dead body,” I remember muttering to a seemingly large sum and now as it looks at me again, I am as good as dead. “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school,” Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds of our times, had said. And I was quite satisfied, almost proud, of my education or rather, the remains of my learning. Satisfaction, of course, need not come from your own assessment of your good self. It can also stem from your assessment of your surroundings and viability of minuscule knowledge to survive in this big world. And on that count at least my comrades and countrymen have never let me feel wanting. So, whatever little learning my memory could amass it was enough for me to declare myself educated.
But now here is this little being, almost my alter ego, looking at a math sum, as if saying, “not in this lifetime’. “Do, it now.” I say aloud (“Or do it two decades later, with dollops of embarrassment,” I say within.) In her I am looking at myself and a possible course correction. “No time to waste, sweetheart, exams are just round the corner.” I almost hear my mother as I utter these words. I never thought Karma, had an academic angle too. “So, when will I play,” she yells. (Why do I hear myself?) What goes round comes round. So, I say, learn well children, your marks aren’t enough. Learning and retaining the ‘learnt’ is important. Or, the laws of Karma will catch up with you in next two-three decades and two pair of little eyes will look at you with suspicion, ready to relegate you as ‘uneducated.’ Happy learning!!! l