Dumb!

Arshid Malik

I very well recall that I was never dumb. No one ever called me that, “dumb” I mean, and I was never classified by any classification system as being one, even though I comparatively disagree with the unascertainable “fact” that dumb could be a basis for classification, as “dumbness” as far as humans are concerned is more relative than any other relative state of being. However, later in life, as I strolled across shopping malls listlessly, I obtained factual knowledge of traces of induced dumbness vis-?-vis my own self that were residually present inside my statistical subsystem of existence and divested themselves in the form of minute malfunctions that could very well be guised away as antecedent aphorisms in states of utter stupor. Well, during one such minute malfunction inside a shopping mall, I was ashamed deep enough to go soul searching and later discovered, while sipping coffee in a snacks bar, an event that had majorly spoke about induced dumbness and its collaterals as far as I am concerned.

I was a student in one of the “most prestigious” IT Institutions of India. I was working my way through a post graduate diploma in computer science that took me eighteen months to complete, exactly in tandem with the prescribed course’s prescribed time format. I was a quasi-computer engineer or that’s what the consultant at the institute told me while handing me my certificate and colorful placement assurance “placard” that read “I am ready to be hired” and presumably

I was supposed to add a stick to this gravy of greens and reds and stand outside the offices of well-paying IT firms and hope to save myself some effort. Or perhaps that was the joke! Anyways, I took to me heels gleefully for I was afraid that the Joint Computer Programming Faculty would find out the scrupulous bug in my passing out computer application that I had designed all of my own, and I would be called in to surrender my “placard”, which worried me sick to the stomach while I had no qualms about handing back the diploma certificate. My luck favoured me and I have not heard from the Joint Computer Programming Faculty till date. I landed my first job as a junior IT trainer at a local institution and even though the job was anything but well-paying, I would regularly wear formals to work.

I was proud to be working. One day while I was off assignment another faculty at the local institute handed me a floppy disk and requested me to format it on the PC in the adjacent lab and hand it back. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had a real floppy disk in my hands at a time when floppy disks were scarcer in Kashmir than UFOs. I was never granted the privilege of touching a floppy disk at the institute I studied, I must confess. Now the job at hand was to format the floppy disk. I slipped into the adjacent lab and boarded the floppy in the bay.

It went halfway through and then wouldn’t budge. I had inserted the wrong end of the floppy in and it was no mistake. I knew I was a stuck as the floppy in its bay. I had just discovered the potential meaning of the term “dumb”. It was about time that my co-faculty would find out that I did not know how to insert a floppy into its bay and I would be termed as “dumb”. Nothing of that sort happened and I slipped out of the situation given profound wit and wisdom. And decades later while strolling aimlessly in a shopping mall and trying to put the fuse off a minute malfunctions, I realized that the situation which had been at hand while I was a teacher of sorts was not because of my own dumbness but because of induced dumbness. While I had walked, rather ran out, of the institution where I studied computers with a diploma certificate in my hand, I had never realized that no one there had ever taught me to use a floppy disk. Which is to mean that I was not properly educated? And when that happens “dumbness” is induced.

This kind of induced dumbness is very common these days. Our children go to schools, colleges and universities and once they pass out with glittering grades they know very little of real, hard, practical life. Our schools do not teach our children what they are supposed to learn – skills. And when one is not skilled turns out to be dumb, and by all means this dumbness is exactly induced.

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