February is a month with its own beauty. With the landscape turning into different shades of brown and trees shedding their leaves we are reminded by nature that life is a cycle where the old gives way to new. It is a joy to see leaves dancing their way to the ground. They twirl and turn as they make their journey from their lofty abode to the ground. Come February, many find no beauty in this starkness and bareness. But as one grows older one appreciates this time as the moment when life starts anew. The old and decayed give place to fresh lease of life. The gardeners have a tough time raking in leaves and weeds. One can hear the grumbling of the gardeners who have to work overtime to keep the gardens neat and tidy. But they go about their work systematically and with lots of hard work for they look forward to getting the garden ready for the spring when flowers would fill every nook and corner. Their hard work would pay dividends then.
There is another set of the population which dreads the month of February. It is the children who find this month dreary and challenging. With ‘eggjams’ around the corner, February is the month which shouts for hard work. Parents and children move around with tension writ large on their face. Everyone waits for the date sheet with bated breath. For those who are appearing for board exams, it is a different game altogether. The very mention of board exam brings forth doubts, despair and sad exclamations. Life appears to be a burden. Each mark counts. It is a hurdle that needs to be crossed. For the younger ones, it is sittings with the parents who oversee the minutest of details. It’s not exams but a war game. Strategies are made and unmade. Timetable is chalked out where students designate specific time for each subject. Parents threaten, cajole and pamper their wards. It is, indeed, a tough month.
Many questions flash through the mind: Why exams? Why studies? Why do grades matter? Why do I have to study a particular subject in which I have no interest? There are no answers. One has to plod on. Well, dear students, I agree studies are tough and exams do play spoilsport. But then we are not so disciplined that we do our work diligently. We like to take shortcuts. Thus, there has to be some measuring rod to tell us about our weaknesses and strength. The exam system might be flawed but when we live within a system we have to learn to make the best of it. It is the same as life. We all desire things but there are many times when things are not doled out to us on a platter. We have to surge on. We take reluctant, hesitant, baby steps but at the end we do reach somewhere.
There are many schools that are changing the way children are being assessed. There is emphasis on holistic development. I agree three hours does not qualify to assess you for the hard work put in the entire year. That particular day might not be your best day. But despite all these hiccups, we need to give our best. Grades matter but they should not be made a priority. The intake of knowledge is important. That is going to help you throughout your life. Thankfully, there are a lot of fun activities in schools. Classrooms have become more interesting. Teachers try to bring out the best in each student. The books are informative with pictures that speak a thousand words. They are colourful and engrossing. Technology has helped in making learning fun. Your parents are a great help as they are well versed with the different concepts. If they are unable to teach you because of lack of time or because of lack of clarity of a particular subject, they are more than willing to hire tutors for you. All said and done, you are a blessed lot.
Thus, February should not be mourned for as the month of exams. It should not be associated with hard work depriving you of partying and having fun. You can snatch moments of fun. You can talk of it being the month that would make you one year wiser and one year older. Every rung climbed would help you graduate into the tough competitive world where you would have to slog hard to earn your ‘moolah.’ Your workplace would not allow you time to grumble and choose. Take this month to peep into the hectic life ahead. But, believe me, the slogging and working hard has its own benefits. We have often heard, ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.’ Hard work and keeping yourself occupied weans you away from thoughts that can be depressing and low.
Your identity is made by your ‘karma’. It is up to you to craft your destiny. You will see people taking the short path to success. There will be times when you would not like to work hard. You might feel that you did not get the reward that you expected. This is a temporary phenomenon. My guide, Dr T.R Sharma, who guided me during my Ph.D. gave me my first lesson on the very first day when I went to meet him. He said, ‘If you want to work with me, you will have to work very hard. I am a hard taskmaster. You have to remember that hard work never goes unrewarded.’ His words were intimidating. They were scary but I felt rewarded when he made me complete my doctorate degree within three years which was the stipulated time. I took no extensions. Everyone lauded me for it was a record of sorts. His words proved true. The appreciation brushed all my doubts away. Hard work is always rewarded.
So, enjoy the last phase of winters. Bask in the soft sun. Pick up your books. It is the perfect month for studies. You don’t need to make your hands dive into the quilt to keep them warm. Even if there is an electric cut you can continue to study as it is not hot and humid. You can eat to your heart’s content as the winters gets with it goodies for your large appetite which is a characteristic of the winters. Eat, pray and study to climb one rung higher. It is fun to be seniors in school. It’s a matter of few days and then the beautiful process begins of buying books, bag and stationery for the next class. So happy studying! May you score well and soar high.