A common story that runs through every CBSE student’s household is that of how much they’ve had to suffer before they went in to write their board exams. Evil parents who took away unsuspecting children’s phones, mothers who were constantly nagging both God and the child for good grades, books being opened during inhumane hours of the day are all stories that are common to the CBSE genre.
For children, these exams are considered the ‘launch pad’ and the ‘determiner of your future.’ For parents, the competition is on against the neighbour’s child, the older siblings, the friend’s children and any other child they may meet in the future.
But what happens after? Once the exams are over and the results are out? And every child who studied under all that pressure would have scored a CGPA that was considered a gift from God instead of the child’s own hard work?
The celebrations, of course! But that was not to be the case in my house.
The day the 10th grade CBSE results had broken into my house, I had never cried as much as I had. I had scored a CGPA of 9. In doing so, I had exceeded not just my own but also my teacher’s, my sisters’, my friend’s, my neighbour’s- basically everyone’s expectations. Except for my own mother’s.
She stood beside me, as the result loaded on my laptop screen. Over the phone, my best friend had announced that she had got an 8, and I knew that if I hadn’t scored the same or more, I was not going to hear the end of it.
It loaded, and I saw a glorious 9 on my screen. I smiled. All my hours of hard work and all that nagging had paid off- the blue ball pens that had been blessed by a priest had done its job! I turned to look at my mother, she was frowning.
It’s still hard to recollect what all she had said. It had hurt that much. But I do remember hearing that I was useless, good for nothing and that she was sure there were other children who scored more. She didn’t know any, but she was sure that there were. I spent that afternoon locked in my room, crying. Why was my education a competition with other students?
My Science tuition teacher called, and I received much praise for my hard work- me, the child who had joined late for her tuition, who was terrible in Science, had passed with a really, really good grade. The relief of that conversation though was short-lived. Usurped by my mother who I overheard saying, “But others got more right? This is not much no?”.
Nothing had changed in 12th grade either. An 83.3% felt like a spit on the face. I deleted Snapchat because I couldn’t bear to see my friends who got cupcakes and balloons, expensive food and decorated living rooms.
For any CBSE child, more than the board exam results, it is their parents’ reaction to the result that matters most. This exam is what parents have been prepping their children for since Grade 1. Children are convinced that this exam will make them worthy of their parent’s love and pride. So imagine what happens to their psyche if they mess this up?
Needless to say, I am now often unhappy with anything I do. In my college theatre festival this year, I had directed, written and acted in a play, but I convinced myself that it was not good enough- that I had ruined it, and I kept beating myself over it. I know I’m being too hard on myself, but it doesn’t seem to matter- I’m not good at anything, I am a failure, and I’m sure that there are other kids who might have done better. I’ve not seen them yet, but I’m sure there are.