Tamilnadu students are facing their Higher School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) exams from today.. ie 12th standard or Plus 2 as commonly called as. This is one exam every student dreads, parents and relatives scare the students as the most crucial exam for their life and this is what pressurises the students. In my life those 2 years are something I want to forget... If I get a chance to erase those memories from my mind, I'd readily go for that. But do I want to 'undo' those years? No.. not really.
I was a school topper in my SSLC (10th std) and was carried away by the 3 day fame / adulation which gave me an attitude that I moved out of my school and joined the another school which was considered "upmarket". Looking back, this was one of the biggest blunder I had ever made. I lost my focus, I forgot my abilities and ended up becoming a school last-er in my HSLC.
Where did I go wrong? A man is known by the company he keeps. Atleast for a person like me, I need somebody who would inspire me, keeps reminding me about my abilities, overcome my shortcomings etc. But the friends I chose were not so good in academics so among them I felt complacent that there are people lesser than me. I am not commenting them as individuals / human but purely from the academics perspective. In a way I was forced to choose them because I was "ragged", made feel low about myself because of my talking / gestures which was labelled as "feminine" and given cold shoulder by most of the students from that school and I naturally aligned with these friends who also came from other school.
Those two years completely spoiled all the good nature I had held all the 15 years. I was introduced to porn magazines which I read most of the time in the school itself, my mind was starting preoccupied with sex that lead to very frequent masturbating and obviously I ended up being tired to an extent that I couldn't think constructively anything else. Since there was a lack of "visual porn" and all those yellow books will have very few provocative images and more of stories. I being an imaginative person and a loner at home, I was imagining those stories into visuals.
We came from a very simple middle class family which had only a radio for entertainment and visit the neighbours' house for watching TV. But unfortunately towards the end of my SSLC, we got a TV and a cassette player few months later. So other than sex, my mind was filled with movies, actors and my conversations with the friends were only about movies, sex and replete with all Tamil bad words that start with "Koo...", "Pu..", "Si.." etc.
By the time I realised that I had spoiled my self too much, it was very late. The most unfortunate part was that my parents were waiting for a miracle to happen that I will do well in my exams. Probably they couldn't look me objectively and were prejudiced that their son is good, and the final result hurted them badly.
Even today remembering those two years gives me goosebumps and I try not to remember those days. Those two years made me see the low of the life and the effects of the dark days. I was a badly behaved teenager. But sense prevailed that probably because of the guilt, I try to live as a better human. I say this even at the risk of sounding pompous.
In a way I thank that I got all those experience at very early stage of my life, which didn't make much damage to myself and to the people who matter me a lot. Had I got upturned in my mid or late twenties, it would have affected my aged parents, wife and son. Probably the wild experiences of those two years made me rooted for the rest of the life.
My mother used to say that had I studied well in those two years, I could have got into a good college, get a job through campus selection and my life would have settled down much earlier. To an extent what she said was true, but I ended up selected for a job in campus interview in my MPIB. I could say that my indecisiveness or reluctance to take responsibility costed my life but I can't say that poor academics in HSLC attributed for those issues.
Those two years taught me that education and skills are different. You may not have done well in academics but still the life may be successful, contended and noteworthy. You may be very good in academics but lack skill to be employed and vice versa. If you look at the successful people, it is not their sound academics that made them successful but the skills they learnt, developed or imbibed over a period of time makes them successful. I was not very good in my academics but I am satisfied with the quality of my life. If we keep of harping over the lost opportunity,we can't lead the life peacefully. So let us let the (wild) past go.
Because of my experience in those adoloscent years, I can empathise with the kids who are undergoing that adolscent transformation. I don't play the saint role with them on advicing how prim and proper they should be, reprimand them for all the adoloscent activities like interest in opposite sex. I tell them upfront that I too had undergone those confusions in my life, got tumbled and took years to get back on my feet again so that the kids get a comfort feeling that they are not abnormal.
My son will definitely undergo this confusions and complications in his late teens and I'll try my level best to be with him without being preachy. Being a friend to him or giving him a confidence that he has a pair of ears to listen to his distraction, sexual awareness, adoloscent age complications etc will help him in smoothening the rough edges.
Plus 2 / HSLC exam is an important event but not a crucial one as the parents make it. Gone are the days that the future was bleak unless you made it into Medical college or Engineering college. Today there are lot of avenues where the kids can make their fruitful career out of. So I just pray that the students don't fret over the HSLC exams, lose hope on the life when the marks get low or attempt suicide when they fail. All the very best for all the students.