Women’s web has given me an opportunity to pat my own back by recounting an achievement that I consider worth celebrating. I admit to feeling a little hesitant because years of mental tuning have made me think that it may not be politically correct to do so. After all, what could I have done on my own? My husband and children too need to be given due credit. So I leave it to my readers to decide how much of the credit part actually belongs to me.
Let me start with the time when I started looking for a job. I had applied for the post of a Science teacher in a local school and the Principal shot a question on me regarding the balancing of a chemical equation.
“Potassium di chromate” he bellowed sensing my insecurity. “How would you write the formula for Potassium di chromate, eh?”
“KCrO4” I mumbled, glad to remember that K stood for potassium and Cr for chromium.
It was 10 years since I had graduated from college and very much out of touch with my books. I needed the job very much and hoped that the principal would understand.
“KCrO4?“ The sadist of a Principal asked. “I’ll call a student from class VII and he would be able to tell you that it is K2Cr2O7.”
“Sir, I am not very much in touch but given a chance I’ll pick up soon.” I hated myself for having had to say so. I had been a good student all along and it was humiliating to fumble for answers.
“Do some revision before aspiring to teach in our school”. The interview was over.
I cried myself to sleep that night. Time would make me realize that this failure was indeed a stepping stone for success. I applied for my present job soon afterwards and was placed first on the merit list. A few months after I joined college as Lab assistant I asked my Head of the department how and why she chose me when several fresh graduates had also applied. She explained that my academic qualifications and high percentage had convinced the panelists that I would pick up from where I had left although they had sensed that I was out of touch. And this is how I proved that their trust in me was not misplaced.
Fifteen years after I finished graduation I was accepted for a post graduate program in a local college. In the interim period the syllabus had changed and areas that were only touched upon in my undergrad course had assumed importance. I had three young children and an aged father in law and schizophrenic brother in law to look after. To add to my misery I was not eligible for study leave which meant that I would have to attend two colleges as well as my family. The two years that followed were the best in my life. My children rose to the occasion. I would leave home at seven in the morning after having prepared food for the family. I would be eight in the evening before I returned. I would study at a friend’s place after college because I knew that I would not be able to study at home. Daughters would get ready for school, pack lunch for my husband and themselves and help my son with his home work. They learnt to serve food, clear up the kitchen, fold clothes and even to prepare dosas if the batter was ready. My son who was just seven years old would happily adjust and by the time I returned home he’d have gone to sleep after dinner. And to top it, their school performance did not suffer.
What did I gain by all this you may ask? Well, I managed to top my batch and break a twenty one year old record and I hear that my record remains unbroken till date. It is now 23 years since my results were announced. My children have settled down in life. And above other things, my daughters say that they were motivated to rise to the occasion and learnt house keeping skills as an additional incentive.
As for my husband, he knew more Botany than me because I would discuss expected questions with him and he would rattle off the names of authors and books to the extent of making his friends ask whether he was also planning to answer an exam along with me. I realized that I had taken things too far when my son who was in grade II drew the chemical structure of Gibberellins (a growth hormone) on the living room floor.
I cannot think of any other achievement than this that is worth a celebration. I celebrate it because
- It brought us close to each other as a family.
- It made me realize that success is achieved by collective effort and cooperation. An individual’s input has to be supplemented by family support.
- Age is not a limiting factor when it comes to learning.
- Husband can drive me nuts but I still think he is the best I can hope to have!