It was the first day of school after vacations. Children of class 2 were filling into the classroom and smiling as they were welcomed by their teacher, Miss Malini.
Miss Malini had a pleasant personality and was always warm towards children. She had a way with children and they loved talking to her.
Once the children settled down, Miss Malini realized that the kids are still in holiday mode.
Miss Malini had planned a lesson around community helpers and to get children back in the study mode, she started talking about their dreams and finally asked them a simple question “What do you wish to become when you grow older?”
Miss Malini expected the children to either choose their parents profession or be a teacher or a doctor. Someone they have met and seen regularly.
She was surprised to see the whole class go quiet. She didn’t expect the kids to actually think so hard to come up with an answer. Then there was a slight murmur as if children were discussing what they wished to be.
Miss Malini, frankly wasn’t expecting this kind of reaction and she took a minute or two to regain composure. After getting the kids to calm down, she started asking them about their career choices.
Raj – Mam, I want to become a doctor, but Neil says it’s not good. His father is a doctor.
Neil- Yes Mam, being a doctor isn’t great; I want to be a computer engineer like Yashvi’s dad.
Yashwi – Being a computer engineer isn’t fun either, I want to be a banker like Rudra’s mom.
Rudra – Ha! Banking isn’t great; we should not have banks at all. I would rather be a teacher like Samyak’s dad.
Samyak – My dad is a professor and he keeps saying education as a profession is not what it used to be. I am not sure what he means by that, but I wouldn’t be a professor. I hate all these, I am going to be a farmer just like my gandpa.
Shaurya – I too hate all these computer jobs, I am going to be a film director.
Miss Malini was zapped at all the answers and the way these tiny tots were thinking.
She said slowly “Okay, let’s start from the beginning. Neil why do you think being a doctor is not good?”
Neil – Mam, my dad is always worried. When he is treating patients, if they do not recover, their families come and attack the hospital staff. If he asks them to get tests done, they blame him for expenses. But when there are any serious health issues in the world like H1N1 virus, or bird flu, he is out treating patients. Many times he stays in the hospital as they are short on staff or they have very small breaks. How can such a career be good for anyone? During emergencies, my dad hardly meets me.
Miss Malini was speechless at the clarity with which Neil spoke.
Very well Neil, I understand where you come from. But if we all start treating our doctors well and remember to tell that to others as well. We might have a better situation when it is time for Raj to be a doctor, isn’t it?
What about you Yashvi, why do you think computer engineer is bad?
Both Yashvi and Shaurya said at once, because parents love their computer more than us!
Miss Malini could hardly suppress her smile. “One at a time please,” she said.
Let’s start with Yashvi
“My mom and Dad both are computer engineers. They are always stuck to it. They work in office, then they come home and have calls and again have the laptop in their laps. They also have to go for projects to some far away country. I don’t like all that.”
Shaurya chimed in “And everytime they take a holiday, they are in stress after getting back. They might go late to office, but I am not there in the mornings and when I am back, they are busy with meetings on computer. I hate computers!”
Half the class bursted in agreement!
“Hmm.. so if your parents were able to spend more time with you and have a better work-life balance in their lives, things might be better, do you think?” however Miss Malini knew the answers weren’t that simple.
Okay Rudra, why don’t you want to be a banker?
“Mam, mumma is always stressed. There are things like audit, reports, tally and something… something. Many times she is working on weekends as well. It is some small work, but then there are calls and things get delayed.”
I feel very sad looking at her. Rudra was almost on the verge of crying.
Samyak – “My father is always checking papers, taking classes, correcting mistakes in the textbooks or in the papers. During results he is tensed. I see all parents are stressed. So I am thinking of being a farmer like my grandpa.”
Vidhi – “Yes, good idea.. we all need to eat, and if all are sitting with computers, who will grow the food that we need? I will become a farmer too!”
Shaurya- I am going to be a film director. No computers. Just nice stories that I will make and everyone is happy.
Miss Malini couldn’t stop laughing. “Okay so we all agree that stress is something that we do not want in our lives.”
Yes Mam… all kids shouted in chorus
This story is inspired by my interactions with kids and one of the biggest inspirations for this story is Shaurya Harjai