Letter to the School, Students and Alumni

Posted by Swadhi Singh Khan
February 6, 2018

NOTE: This post has been self-published by the author. Anyone can write on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The list is out again and this time it includes many names from many batches. Let me give you some background here. I am talking about the list released by my alma mater School in which names of “distinct” alumni are included and they will be rewarded on some special day.  

The culture of list is not new in my school but this time, unlike other times when the impact was limited to the students, it is all over the world because alumni are all over the world. Thanks to social media, the list reached all of us in lesser time compared to what it took to be delivered by our peon bhaiya in all the classrooms. Many of us were on the list, many of us weren’t. It doesn’t matter to us now, to most of us. But it would to some. There will be questions, why him/her? Am I still not good enough? Are you serious, him/her out of all the people? Who made the list? How much information they had about each and every alumnus before they  released it? Why almost all of the names are the ones I have heard before…all of them were in some list before?

Now, this last question is important and if you are wondering why am I disturbed or why am I bothered or why am I spending my little brain on writing something that doesn’t matter to me, I will tell you.

Because it did, it did matter to me when I was in the school, it matters to me now for the sake of students who are currently studying in that school. I want to speak to them, all of them, the one who knows all the answers, who raises his/her hands confidently and to the ones who don’t in spite of knowing all the answers, to  the ones who are not good at maths but are brilliant writers, sportsman, singer, artist or anything, to the ones who has many friends and the ones who has few and also the ones who has none. I want to reach to them all, first benchers, last benchers, socialisers, loners, teacher’s pets, rowdy, timid, that “fat” one at whom everyone laughs, that “skinny” one, the flirt, the slut, the playboy, the whore, the boy who doesn’t know the meaning of it at all, the girl who confides in her diary and saves herself from a fall.

I want to tell them that these infinite number of lists do not matter, now or ever. It is just the way of putting you in buckets. Have you noticed how the same kids are sent for quiz competitions, debate and extempore again and again, and you feel as if you are not even eligible for it. Trust me, you are. Sadly, to our school winning is more important than giving everyone opportunity. Do you see same faces as lead dancers in all the events, why? Are the teachers too lazy to teach a non dancer, or is it because they know that you just can’t dance and if they do, I ask HOW?

Also, I ask and I want all of you to ask, why the same set of kids underperforms in the class, why the same set of kids stutters when asked to speak in the classroom, why the same set of kids always disturbs the class. There are several whys.

All my school life I thought that the boy who sat at the corner in our class and did not answer or showed his work to the teacher was a weak student who knew nothing. (Not that he was Jon Snow)

Now, I wonder how could he not know anything, he came to the school everyday, he was there at his corner every-damn-day. Why didn’t he ask question? Why was he never confident enough to stand and speak out? Whose responsibility was it to teach him, to involve him in the classroom discussion? Did we do anything to make the class a space to learn, to be comfortable and most importantly to be ourselves? No we didn’t. All we did was show pity, throw some sarcasms, or just laugh with all the others. I never thought about how it felt to be at the receiving end of all these.

It’s not like my school life was a cakewalk, I had my share of bullshit. But I was included in many lists, so many that it was ok for me to not give any list any importance. I was over it but today when I saw that alumni list and read all the names, I found it difficult to contain the disgust within my heart. So, am here writing this piece in the hope that the current students wouldn’t bucket themselves in these tangible, well defined blocks. You are more than that, you are mixture of all these buckets in the world and even more. It’s ok if your teacher asks you to answer and you are unable to muster courage to stand and speak because you are nervous. It is normal and many people have felt it before, so don’t worry. Just don’t give up. Fight it.

People laugh at you? Let them, they will not matter to you after few months or years. Just don’t let them in your head. You waited for the dance teacher to ask you if you were interested in upcoming dance event because you were too nervous but he/she never did? Again, you are not alone, may be right then someone in the classroom felt exactly the same.

For someone else, the same thing happened before the selection of next quiz, debate, singing and other competitions. You waited and waited that next time teacher will come with the list that will have your name in it but it never happened. Then one fine day you accepted that may be you are not good enough, maybe you are not “the right” type.

There, the school lost one bright student in his shell and that’s you, not because you were not good enough, you were wasted because the people around you were not good enough. Always remember that students never fail, it’s always the system that fails them. What should I say, system everywhere is the same, catering children in strictly defined ways and making list is one of them and when you challenge it by your uniqueness it doesn’t understand how to respond because there is no defined structure for you. It shouldn’t beat you down, it should not deter you, don’t let it push you in the dungeon where you feel alone, don’t get mean, because, let me repeat, these things will not matter in your future. You can make your own list, as many as you want, and put yourself where ever you want to. Just grow. Martin Luther King said “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” He did, so did Nelson Mandela and many more.

About the “list” that is out floating all over the social media, congratulations to all of you who made it to the list and seriously you deserve it. See, I have no grudges, how can I have, am on it…or am I?

Thing is it looks very scantily researched and based on prejudices. Prejudices against those who were faceless in the school but are doing some amazing jobs today. That boy in the corner I told you about is a confident software engineer and of course there are others who totally deserved to be there in the list but may be they don’t care. Whatever, thank you my Alma mater to show that you care and also that you don’t about those who never made it to the one of your lists.

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