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If someone asks me right now, what I have learnt after getting into IIT, I really have to think twice and it will take some time before I can give a proper reply. In terms of academics, Electrical Engineering concepts, applications of subjects, I am sure that it would be difficult for me to figure out what I have learnt, have been learning and will be learning in the various semesters. Given now, I may not be able to detect any simple fault in a small electric circuit and resolve it. I am in no position to speak emphatically about the quality or the quantity of the science that I have been learning for quite some time now. But over a period of time, there are two main things that I have been paying attention to and which constantly hover around my mind at many times in many situations. These are the value of family members and how the society is structured economically.
Coming to the first topic, I may not be a good speaker about it because I really can’t elaborate on this issue which might have been discussed by many people so many times. But I am keen on putting my views and learnings related to this subject.
It is indeed true that one realises the value of his/her dear ones only when he/she is not near them. What doubt is there, I am talking about God’s greatest gift to everyone, our family? Right from my childhood I had a misconception about the family. I used to think them as ATMs and caretakers (very very sorry for that). I used to expect all kinds of services from every single member but was least bothered to behave like a dutiful son. Neither did I ever recognise what they are doing for me day and night nor did I ever thank them for it.
Beginning with my JEE days or even before, family was something which I never paid much attention to nor did I ever bother too much about any of the members. The true value of family, its members, the value of relationships, being together could ultimately find place in my stupid brain only when I left them. Now let me talk about each member of my family and their pivotal role in setting up a happy and healthy life for me.
First let me talk about my great doctor parents. Mom and Dad are truly god’s greatest gifts, a truth which I realised when I left home and came to IIT. At home, I always used to criticise mom for each and every petty thing without any credible reason. Same was the case with my dad. I never used to spend any quality time with him. Instead of being with them or talking to them, any time when I was free after my studies got over, I used to spend it in front of computer, TV, or indulging in some other useless stuff. This was undoubtedly my mistake as they can’t force me to come and be with them. I realised what I missed or didn’t value only after bidding goodbye. IIT is such a place where the bachelor undergraduate has to do everything by himself. There is no helping hand unlike at home. Even in an ordinary day, I used to wonder so many times that, how come mom used to do so many things for so many people at home, when I am finding it hard to look after my own work. She used to keep everything ready, at the proper place, make things easier for me, and reduce my work so that I could concentrate on my studies without any disturbance or obstacle. Her cooking was the thing which I criticised on every single occasion. I understood how mom used to cook wonderful and healthy food taking into account my tastes as well as my nutritional requirement, only when I had eaten for the first time in the mess…..Mess sucks badly..!!!
Now let me come to my dad. In spite of being busy, he always tried to do his best and be with us always. I always had the wrong notion, that he is hot tempered. But a fool like me could realise his importance the day, the single moment when he was leaving me right in front of his eyes at the beginning of my third semester. Those three days that I stayed with him and the amount of help that I got from him in helping me adjust to the new place with no facilities, get all the things in place and finally settle down, I can never forget. I was constantly thinking that because of me, he even came to stay for three long days and nights at a place where he never stayed before, I mean the kind of facilities and environment that it had, he did not deserve to stay there. He obviously deserves a better place to stay. But, for whom did he come there, he came for me, he stayed there for me. It was not the first semester, it was not the first time that I left them, but still to help me get accustomed to the new place, he came with me. Finally when he was leaving for the station, I was looking back at him continuously remembering the good time that I spent with him in the past few days.
In IITs, one has to travel by foot or use a bicycle. Let it be summer or winter, let the weather conditions be too humid or sultry or cold, these are the only means of transport. For a fellow like me, who never stepped out of car, this was another problem especially during the first semester. Walking to the classes or the hostels in such hot temperatures was so disgusting. I was sweating like a pig sometimes. I used to wonder the good old days at home. How comfortable life was then? Dad made sure, my journey or stay anywhere should be the best possible. Be it the car or home or the college or any other place, AC was everywhere. Such a wonderful life was provided every single moment trying to avoid the slightest discomfort and I was such a thankless child.
Grandparent’s time. Right from my childhood, I have the habit of being with them always. But I never showed any gratitude for whatever they have done for me. Let it be the food that my grandma used to cook for all of us by waking up early in the morning or the teaching that she used to do to help me understand and learn the languages, the social science etc., it was never appreciated by me. The day I was eating the worst, most bland and completely unbearable food of the mess made me realise the greatness of what she did for me. I still remember those JEE days, during which she used to do her level best and cook various varieties every day for my lunch during my eleventh standard. I never thanked her for it. Moreover I used to pick up fights with her sometime regarding the taste issues claiming that outside junk food is much better and I would eat outside only. This I really consider as the biggest mistake on my side.
While speaking about my grandpa, he is a man of good principles. Though he was not really a science teacher, he was more of an ethics instructor I should say. He tried to instil good morals, habits, ethics and principles in my mind always which I never cared for. At the same time he used to tell me something about farming. I never showed any interest in it. It was like he was explaining to the walls. He always tried to do well to others. A good example being, he always tried to educate the house maid by teaching her the basics of language, words, their pronunciation, meanings etc. I used to feel, why he is wasting time in that way. I could get to know the value of him and whatever he used to do only when I was away from him.
My sister and uncle are no less. Their contributions may not be visible to me but they do exist. I never treated my sister with much care and affection. The way I used to talk to her and ignore her, created a sort of fear, I can say in her in approaching me for any of her doubts. This was probably the biggest sin. She is my only sister, my twin sister, my only lovely sibling. How could I neglect her? Same was the case with my uncle. Whenever he used to call me and ask about my marks or my performance, I used to think why is he so much concerned with my marks when my mom and dad themselves are not very much bothered about it. It was only when I was away from him, I realised that he was concerned about me, my education, my future, my wellbeing. It is really good that someone is caring for you. Though you may not be interested in talking to them, they are still worried about your welfare.
One great example that I am dying to mention here is right now presented to you.
It was August 2008, just a month after joining the IIT; I fell sick as I had some breathing problem that caused intolerable pain in my chest whenever I inhaled. Right after the morning class, I rang up my mother at about 9:30AM complaining about my pain. I did not attend the rest of the classes that day. I went to the hospital for some tests prescribed by the doctor. My parents in spite of being very busy booked the earliest flight to Delhi and by evening 7PM, they were in front of me. They called it serious (though the seriousness lasted for only two days), they disrupted their schedule and came for me immediately. I must have told them an infinite time not to come, but they came for me. Though it was a painful day, but was really a great day.
Such observations might have been made by every single student, especially those who hate that mess food and recollect the home made food every time they look at the roti in the mess. It is not that I have realised their value only on some occasions. These are just some specific instances that I am mentioning here. I really miss them every single day away from home and know how important they are in shaping my life. Family is something which should have the highest place in your heart. Never neglect them. They are responsible for what you are today and what you will be tomorrow. Thank them always.
Mom, who works very hard to make my life a bliss, who gets up early than me to ensure that everything is ready before I get up and sleeps late after taking care of everyone’s needs, who needs a lot of rest but gets the least, who successfully juggles between her roles of a mother, wife, daughter and a doctor; Dad who gives me the moral and financial support every single time; Grandma who has been helping me right from my childhood in my learning and living; Grandpa who’s life lessons and advice always helped me a lot, have all been and continue to be an invaluable support and guidance for me.
Family, Tussi Great Ho!!!
I earlier mentioned that I understood how our society is structured economically. By this, I am not intending to do an economic research on the Indian society. I would like to present the various experiences which helped me realise the value of money, as I feel so.
Right from the mess where we have our breakfasts, lunches and dinners to the spending done outside by the students, everything was a harbinger of economic disparity for me. Eating in the mess was always a problem. I never used to like the food there. Always thought of escaping it and eating outside in the canteen or some other place. This is what I was always doing, which I planned to stop but still continue to do. At the same time I used to look at some students sitting beside me eating the same food with interest. It was the first sign of economic disparity for me. While I get up from the dining table in few minutes or even seconds sometimes to eat better food somewhere else, they sit there and have a full meal. It was clear to me, that it was their necessity. They have to eat it. The same food which is the worst for some people is to be consumed by others as everyone cannot afford to enjoy costly food at canteen etc. The disparity was evident from not only this, but several such issues that pointed out the same meaning. Just take the example of the canteen, where some students come several times a day while some hardly visit it once in a day or even several days. Or let it be the lavish meaningless parties that some throw to celebrate the same occasion repeatedly. That which is useless for someone, could be very valuable and precious for someone else. Not only food, it can also be seen in dressing, living, spending etc. Having realised what money means for various sections of the society, I always decide to control my expenditure during every semester, stop giving and attending the worthless parties. But such decisions go in vain as I continue to be an over spender. Hope I soon realise money’s true value and restrict my spending to certain limit.
Views expressed are personal.
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