|A Loving Venture
I was happy to give up my successful career as a teacher during the growing-up days of my two sons, Santosh and Naresh. There is a two-year age gap between them.
I drew immense satisfaction, and a work-well-done feeling in attending to their needs. Feeding, changing, bathing and putting them to bed never jarred my nerves as they did with some of my friends.
As little boys, they were full of questions just about everything that stirred their curiosity. I am happy that their dad and I were patient enough with them in trying to satisfy their eagerness to know. It would have hurt their delicate feelings if we had shown irritation at their childish queries like why can’t we fly like the butterflies or how does popcorn pop up.
Even as adolescents, they drew moral support from us.
During their school days, their friends gathered at our place in the evenings, and played cricket and a variety of other games that Santosh used to make up. Those delightful activities used to entice even a grown up like me into participating.
Many joyful years rolled by before Santosh and his friends had passed the school, and started on two years of Intermediate. This phase of their education was vital in deciding their future career, serving as a turning point in their lives. At the end of the Intermediate, the educational system in India conducts common entrance test for the interested candidates, to qualify for joining Engineering or Medical courses.
Santosh had decided to sit for JEE-IIT, or Joint Entrance Exam for entrance into Indian Institute of Technology (there were only five such institutes located in different cities). The exam attained significance because it was conducted at the national level, simultaneously at different centers throughout the country. It was a tough exam covering a large syllabus. Only the best qualify.
Among other things, success to entrance into the IIT depended on the student’s application and preparation. The way Santosh had prepared for this crucial test was very well organized. Let me tell you about it in brief.
Waking up at four in the morning to the sound of the alarm clock would set the ball rolling. After a spell of yoga, Santosh devoted two hours to uninterrupted study. Those dawn hours of study helped him in grasping intricate concepts in Physics and Mathematics. My husband and I too woke up with him, and did something on our own. While he read the Bhagavad-Gita, I practiced my Veena (A seven-stringed instrument of Indian classical music) or read something of my liking. Our company prevented my son from feeling lonely in the semi-dark dawn, and helped him in concentrating on his studies.
After school, he came home, had his lunch, and wrestled with his Math, Chemistry or Physics for a couple of hours from 2 to 4 pm. A snack and a glass of milk later, he joined his friends for a game of cricket or shuttlecock.
Fortunately, Santosh and his buddies never gave up on games even while preparing for the test. They played on every evening, and had a lot of fun. After dinner at seven at night, which we all had together, he used to read something relaxing, munching on an apple, with his transistor radio tuned to his favorite BBC. By nine, he was sound asleep.
My son started collecting test papers and books on study subjects, right from the First Year of Intermediate. Alongside of attending college, Santosh took postal tuition from a couple of fine coaching centers. A bunch of study notes, and assignments prepared by expert teachers arrived unfailingly every month. Santosh was regular in sending back the feedback on time. Progress cards, remarks and suggestions were being sent by return post. Contact classes were held regularly, at allotted centers every three months, and tests were conducted on the entrance exam model.
Besides the above preparation, once in a fortnight, the boys took mock tests of three hours duration, based on the exam model. They wrote them sitting around our dining table, with a timepiece placed in the centre.
As a detached observer, I noticed that a lot of reconnoitering used to take place among the boys. Santosh and Prem, his close friend, used to help others who were a tad weaker than them. My son, while revising, made sure that everybody including himself understood the complicated concepts thoroughly. He always told them, the importance of understanding the subject before building up the ambition of scoring high marks.
While strolling, relaxing or whenever they got together, they discussed and argued their topics in Physics, Chemistry or Math. This absorption in studies helped them get a good grounding in the subjects, which in turn enhanced their confidence.
An occasional movie or a frolicking day on the beach refreshed the boys. We attended parties and shared picnics.
We did not interfere too much, almost never had to tell him to study, study and study. We created an atmosphere that prompted him to spend time with his books. We did not send him out on errands or pressed him to do odd jobs at home. We hated to take advantage of his availability to lighten our domestic responsibilities. He knew he did not have to bother about his personal or any other requirements. He needed that sense of freedom, of assurance, of love and concern.
This organized study programme lessened his exam tension, and inspired him to look forward to the entrance test with enthusiasm.
We were the proud parents on the day the entrance test results were published in the newspapers. Santosh secured an excellent rank (118) out of a hundred thousand examinees. He and his best friend Prem Kumar went on to join the IITs situated in Delhi and Bombay, respectively.
That was the beginning of my son’s fruitful career.
Awarded Honorable Mention in Octobersun's Annual Parenting Contest.