The art of doing it

Arshid Malik

Given the fact that I was a bright child and always excelled in studies, I actually never paid enough heed to my school curricula. I was too much of a fun person who loved to loathe around rather than stick to one spot.

I often skipped classes and ended up being spanked by the teachers, however, the class tests and other “standard dietary examinations” through which I got ahead without any hitches or hiccups made most of my teachers forget about my naughty side. I was not exactly the apple of the eye but I was no pear either. I did a lot of reading and crafted my own nifty experiments (at the behest of which I ended up scorching up all my eye lashes, one day, followed by a good spanking by my father) and “had no time for regular studies at all”.

When it was (winter) vacation time, I never touched my assignments until they had collected enough dust to render the printed matter illegible. Instead of working on the projects assigned by my school, I pulled my own “dirty little tricks”.

By the time I was out of school, I started wondering as to what made get through the examinations, eventually, for as they say genius comprises 99 per cent perspiration and 1 per cent inspiration, and the fact is that schooling was a no sweat project for me. And now that I have grown up, rather grown old, I always attempted to go back to those school assignments and projects, as I often get a feeling that I actually missed up on something. Till a few years back this used to be a contemplative, iridescent, part applied and part imposed chore for me, as it is more than often nostalgia that lends meat to the middle and late rungs of one’s age, but ever since my son learnt to make sense of popular Indian cinema I have made a comeback, I must say.

Thanks, and many, many thanks to the teachers who attend to my son at his school, as at their behest I have been able to relive my school years through my son, although I will never be able to forgive them or the school for their backstage, less intentional and more genetic cruel attitudes towards pupil (reason(s) cited ahead).

Oh! The very sight of my son’s overburdened shoulders as he walks out to catch the school bus makes me heave sighs like a woebegone mother –you guessed it right, it is very much the school bag which is very little of a bag and much more of a gunny sack these days. He comes home with loads of home work every day and I and my wife, after having chugged through our potholed lives, assist our brave little soldier in “overpowering the curricular demons”.

I swear, had I been assigned as much of homework that my son dumps home after every tiring school day, I would have taken the word of advice from my father who, anguished by my loitering and lackadaisical attitude, used to tell me that I was better suited to join up the automobile workshop in our locality as a helper (my father is a retired automobile engineer and as they say, everything appears yellow to the jaundiced eye, pun quite intended). Anyways, with my son at work and me and my wife aiding him get through the heaps of school assignments, I eventually end up enjoying the experience – it is so very rejuvenating, especially during holidays.

As the summer sun started to kick in schools were closed for one and a half months (as is the regulatory schedule outside Kashmir) and while I expected to see my son’s face bloom over the fact that summer vacations had eventually landed home, I caught a rather depressing look on his face as one moment he stared blankly at almost one whole ream of paper (vacation assignments) which he was firmly holding in his hands and the other at me and I guessed it was pep up time. I braced myself and wrestled the ream out of his hands and started browsing through the pages, and believe me I felt my head spinning and my stomach churning while going through the galaxy of assignments that had been assembled together to “reduce” my son to an “utter state of misery” when he was supposed to have all the fun in the world.

For God’s sake it was vacation time. Later that day, me, my son and my wife joined heads like a tiny soccer team and worked out the “roadmap” which would aid us getthrough the thick ream of paper that spelled “VACATION ASSIGNMENTS” in bold. I rebooted and my old self took over and we started working on the assignments and various projects that my son had to submit by the end of the vacation period.

We toiled hard to find all the oddities that the projects required and I guess I have never looked harder for anything in my life, though I enjoy shopping. Within a week’s time we had hoarded a whole lot of stuff ranging from anise seeds to shark fins. It was a beautiful summer as we sailed through one assignment to another and by the time we scavenged our home off the scraps and shreds (which took a good three days) we were happy and my son was smiling. He had a great vacation and I relived my missed days at school and learnt the art of doing it.

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