The Highest Goal
Today morning I woke up to a beautiful day. The golden yellow rays of the sun were streaming in through the window curtains onto me. I could hear the chirping of the birds in the background. Everything seemed to be perfect. I had a good night’s sleep and I was bright and awake, eager to absorb every bit of the energising atmosphere around me.
Suddenly a weird sound engulfed the surroundings, that made me jump up from my bed and rush to the window. It was a continuous sound, so loud that it put all other voices of nature to silence. It did not take me long to identify it as the siren of an ambulance. “What has happened?” “Who is not well?” My mind kept on asking me these questions. Pictures and thoughts of probable people started flashing in my mind. I tried to be neutral and wanted all these thoughts to go. I tried to look down as much as possible from my window to get a glimpse of the person for whom the ambulance had arrived. Soon enough I could see a man and his wife carrying a stretcher along with the ambulance guys. I inadvertently assumed that it must be the grandfather on the stretcher. Of course these things are inevitable with age. But I had the shock of my life when I saw a child like figure lying motionless on the stretcher. It was their 15 year old son. I could not bring myself to terms that it was indeed Amit.
Is 15 years an age to be lying on a stretcher and be dragged to a hospital on such a beautiful morning? I wondered why and how did this happen?
Amit, a nice lad, was always at his chirpiest best. He would play, dance, joke, eat and do all merry things as if there was no tomorrow. Even in his saddest moments he would look better than others. He was always his teacher’s favourite student, equally good in studies, sports and extra-curricular activities. We all loved him for his liveliness.
Then something happened last year. He entered Class X, the dreaded year of the Board exams. As days and months passed, Amit gradually changed from being an extrovert to an introvert. The happiness on his face was replaced by some kind of gloominess. All he ever spoke was about studies and how difficult he found living up to the expectations of his parents, teachers and friends. Day by day he was breaking down internally but no one really noticed, not even his parents. And then one day we all saw him lie helplessly on the hospital bed. By God’s grace whatever happened to him was not fatal but doctor’s said it was all due to exam stress.
Stress at the age of 15? Stress at the age of 15 strong enough to collapse the person? Why? It is not as if this exam system has been devised today. It has been in existence since ages. Our parents, their parents, their parents’ parents, all have gone through the routine of exams, be it at school, at college, at work place or in life. It may cause stress, no doubt, but a stress strong enough to cause the breakdown of a person, that’s wrong. Why are we suddenly surrounded by such cases? What has changed so drastically that children are feeling the burden of it?
Today life has become so materialistic. We count our happiness in terms of the square feet area of our homes, the screen size of television sets, the models of our cars and phones and the brand of clothing that we wear. Do we really think about happiness that comes to us by the sense of belonging that we share with our family and friends, by just observing the splashing waves in the ocean, by listening to the chirping of the birds or by simply being a good human being? We have digressed to a road that is taking us far away from simplicity and calmness.
Today we value money more than anything else in the world. Parents are worried that if their children do not score higher in the exams; they will not be able to get a good job, buy a big house, a big car, tons of gadgets and so on. Instead parents should actually be focussed on their child growing up to be a good human being. Instead of pushing the child to scale unreasonable boundaries, parents should instead teach them to be a good person and a fighter in life. Parents should instil courage in their children so that if and when they fall they don’t crumble under the stress but stand up and fight against it. Ultimately everybody has to fight their own demons. If we as parents only pamper our children, it is the greatest mistake of our lives that we will be committing. Love and care have to be accompanied with discipline and good values.
Children are like soft mud that can be moulded in any way. They are also a reflection of the parents. Do not treat them as objects to fulfil your own dreams. Mould them in a way beneficial to them on all fronts of life.
In the selfish race for wealth and luxury, everyone is trying to score the highest marks or achieve the greatest percentage. But this activity not only causes high stress levels, it also takes away the satisfaction of knowledge. A normal man should feel proud on being intellectual and acquiring knowledge. However school books are no longer seen as a source of knowledge, but as a method to get the highest marks. Students read and mug up information, throw it out on hundreds of pages, and forget it. They might get marks, but have they learnt anything that will help them in life? No, they just encouraged the greedy race that will make them wealthy in terms of money, but poor in terms of wisdom.
Amit recovered. He and his family got their dose of wisdom the hard way, but it need not be the same for all of us out there. Whether we like it or not, being happy in life and being financially successful in life is not the same thing. We have a choice to make. It better be a smart choice because our decision is going to shape the next generation.