It feels overwhelming to accept that I survived the A2Z challenge until today and reached the alphabet R. Last week Tuneer’s new school brought in a complete change of schedule for all of us. And then we had Satyanarayana Pooja at home last morning keeping me on my toes the whole day. the fatigue gave rise to a strong urge to skip writing for the day. But this series has become so much fun that I couldn’t resist myself from writing this last post for the week.
For more two and a half decades of my life, I had really not known what rejection meant both in personal and professional lives. Two numbers in my life have always been high – the digits on the weighing scale and my marks in most of the examinations. The former ensured that I never have any kind of distraction in the form of affairs until I went to college and the latter gave me the confidence to face those who tried to body shame me. When I faced the first rejection in academics, my skills to handle the same were underdeveloped. With experience, this has improved though I must say that I am still quite wary of any kind of rejection for the simple fact that I don’t know how to deal with it.
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s Sr. T. This man seems unfazed by both selection or rejection. For him, there’s always a way out and everything is predestined. Now how does one argue with someone who starts quoting verses from Gita at the slightest of opportunities? For Tuneer to be brought up by two such radically different people speaks about the kind of contradictory situations that the boy often finds himself in!
When Tuneer started his school admission process, his first interview happened to be in a school stuck-up on English as a medium for communication and like I have mentioned in a few of my previous posts, he had to answer twenty questions. For one of the questions, he was shown the alphabets B and D and asked if he could ‘differentiate’ between the alphabets. For a three-year-old, alphabets were a new thing. To hear the word ‘differentiate’ was quite a shocker to all three of us. Yet, barring my name which he had proudly announced as Mummum, he answered all the questions quite well.
But when the results came out, Tuneer didn’t make it to the first list. The worst part was that Sr. T and I had both gone to see the results and the moment I could be sure about the rejection, I turned around to find Sr. T missing from the spot. Without exaggerating the real situation, it really looked like he had simply vanished in thin air. My immediate reaction to the result had been that of devastation. For me, it was painful that the boy had started his new path with something as ominous as rejection. But before I could lash out at Sr. T for his casual attitude towards the admission process until then, his sudden absence had started to send shivers down my spine.
I searched for him frantically. The results had been long forgotten before deciding to give him a call. He picked up and announced his presence at a nearby tea stall. By then, I had started seething in anger. On arriving, I was about to scream at this callous man when he handed over three ice creams to me with a smile. At this point, you might be going, “Aww! How sweet!” Let me spill the beans then – this absurd gesture happened on a chilly January evening with the temperature hovering around 8 degrees. I wanted to throw those ice creams back at him. But by then, I had started feeling so hopeless that even my jittery nerves had calmed down.
Knowing that it would be difficult to give this man a piece of my mind since both the grandparents were at home that evening, I ensured that it was a bumpy ride for him back home. Yet he kept smiling while saying, “have one ice-cream”. Beyond a point, I lost all my energy to even discuss this further. By then, the family had already known about the outcome. The grandparents had become his human shields waiting to protect him from every scolding expected to come his way. By the time we reached home, all that I could manage to tell the child was that we both had a lot of work to do to ensure such results were not repeated in the future.
Of course, Sr. T and I fought tooth and nail the next day privately after I realized how I had straight walked into his trap laid down to save the boy from my wrath. He kept denying the accusation vehemently. Thankfully, for all three of us, a repeat of such a situation never happened in any of the following three interviews. The end result was that Tuneer was spared the chiding, Sr. T was spared the need to cook up another creative story and I was spared the stress of dealing with rejection.
Ever since Tuneer has started school, my father-in-law makes it a point to end almost every conversation with a generalized statement about how marks never matter or ranking first in class never teaches anybody the way to deal with real-life scenarios. I know that’s just his way of telling me to not pressurize the boy for a high rank. My father, who shares a very warm relationship with my father-in-law takes this conversation further ahead by casually mentioning about the need for everyone to face rejection early on in life since that is expected to make one tough from inside. But Sr. T doesn’t shy away from telling the boy about how his race against rejection has already begun. He cracks a joke about how both of them have to really invent solid excuses if the kid doesn’t live up to his mother’s expectations in terms of academic performances.
The boy has a long way to go before I start keeping a track of his academic results. So my reaction to all these statements is just a casual nod or even indifference. Honestly, I am still trying to figure out if Raya Ray, my Detective fictional character holds any chance of a comeback with a second book for which I have already trashed two drafts (each of 50k words) in the last six months. Guess we are all running in this race against rejection striving towards the hope of selection.
Thank you for being a part of my journey until now. I will be back with a fresh post on ‘S’ this Monday. Have a great weekend and you can also catch up on my previous posts in this series here.