Pic.: Chetna Shetty

Two days ago, one of my students’ (twelfth-standard, ISC) father had come to meet me. He was really concerned – rather disturbed - about his daughter’s unit-test marks. She had scored only twenty on hundred. Being a Chartered Accountant, and having gone the hard way up his ladder, and, above all, my student being his only child, the father was unable to comprehend how his daughter could score so low on marks… “Accountancy is not the subject to score so low unless one has no hold on the concepts at all, or unless one has not practiced,” the father looked at his daughter and said, “What is your case – are your concepts not clear or did you not practice?”

“I did not practice,” the daughter murmured meekly to her father who sounded overwhelming.

“I don’t think so,” the father reacted, “Had the concepts been clear, you would have managed to do something even with the help of those concepts.”

“I told you, that I have understood the concepts,” the girl shot back angrily, “It is ‘my’ fault… I did not practice.”

I was watching the drama. It was something I was so used to over my 35 years of teaching, that I knew where the problem lay and what I had to tell to, both, the student and the parent…

The kids – particularly the Commerce ones – do not start off their work with a clear goal in their mind. Most of them are so casual about their career, that it tells on the quality of their motivation… “Only clearly defined and highly resolved goals motivate us to work hard and work long,” I remind my students, parents and everyone alike, “You just have to be burning with the desire to achieve your goal, you need to be passionate.”

Now, some understand this, and some don’t. This parent, the other day, wasn’t taking what I wanted to tell him. His daughter was open to what I was saying… She knew, that she hadn’t figured out what she wanted to do after twelfth… why she wanted good marks… She knew, that unless she relied on her own inner resources – on her own dream and determination – no force on earth, be it her parents, teachers or even God, could do anything… She knew, that motivation came from within and not from outside… Thus, she was angry with her dad… “I told you I have understood the concepts. It is ‘my’ fault… I did not practice.”

Yes, how could my student practice hard without any clue as to why she had to score well in the Board exams?

“Sir, relax… They do well eventually,” I pacified the agitated father, “It is only the starting of the year… They aren’t serious at this stage… Let’s help them discover what they have to do in life…. Once that is done, they won’t need any of us to remind them and nag them all the time.”

I did not succeed in convincing the father. “I will not tolerate anything less than 95 in accounts,” he blasted at the hapless girl (And, I knew, the message was loud and clear for the teacher as well!)

“God save my student,” I prayed… “Have mercy on her!”

And, yesterday I had watched the Hindi movie, ‘Manjhi – The Mountain Man’. I loved the movie, and was inspired by Manjhi’s 22-year-long madness… Call it goal, determination, hard work, focus, perseverance, self-belief, patience, will-power or whatever you like! Let me tell you, that this village illiterate – a social outcast – knew where one’s motivation in life came from!

It took Dasrath Manjhi, from this obscure village in Bihar, twenty-two years to break the rock-solid mountain… that’s to make a road through it which was about 360 feet in length, 30 feet in width and 20 feet in depth… Mind you, to do it alone… Mind you, to do it with just a hammer, chisel and crowbar in his hand! But, Manjhi did not want his village folk to die, like his young wife did, trying to negotiate through the rocky mountain. Just by carving this little stretch through the mountain, he had helped his village folk save a 70-mile round-about-journey which they took 2-3 days to complete!

“Break your head and find it for yourself,” I screamed at my students, yesterday, after watching this movie, “Like how Manjhi broke that mountain!”

My students had within them what Manjhi had within him… Only problem here was that my students – just as most others around them did – relied on others… They wanted someone else to decide for them, take risks for them and even work for them!

At the end of the movie, when a newspaper reporter asks Manjhi as to what message he has for others, the ‘Mountain Man’ chuckles:
“Bhagwaan ke bharose pe mat baithiye…
Kya patha, Bhagwaan hamare bharose pe baitha hai!”

“Don’t sit there  relying on God;
Who knows if God is sitting there relying on us?”



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