In a time, when human civilization has reached the highest level of educational and intellectual capabilities, still there are many who find it hard to understand the meaning of the word ‘passion‘. For them the trends decided by the likes of the society matter the most. And when it comes to their children, they impose their own preferences on them. And in the process, kill many Picasso, Einstein, da Vinci, Feynman, Newton, much before they are born. 

Here’s a short fiction about a guy who has just appeared for 12th board exam and how he is finding it hard to decide whether he needs to offend his parents or his passion. There are some words in Hindi. If you find them hard to understand, post in the comment below. I will post a translated version!

Hope you’ll enjoy!!

the_smart_guy  you rock..keep it up man!

rajeshmahajan11  wow I’m totally amazed. R u just 18? @ashish_mehra00

thomas_the_artistNY  Hey really cool bro. u did it? @ashish_mehra00

rita_srivastav56 I can’t believe you presented it so beautifully…u can be a great artist. Keep it up!

peterNtheworld nice work. highly appreciated.

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So on and so forth…the comments filled my instagram account @ashish_mehra00

It filled up to some 150 comments and some 1000+ likes. I never believe it. No never. I mean, it happened for the first time. I didn’t pay for the post. Still, it attracted the highest ever attention. I post with the tags #art #painting #sketch #imagination #creativity #drawing usually. Mostly people like them. But this time they broke all records.

‘Aashu! Beta what you going? It’s 7. Don’t you realize? Get back…go, go. Study. Ese kaise chalega…’ My mom enquired.

‘Yes, maa. Going. Just wanna tell you that today you know my post rocked.’ I told her to surprise.

‘Hmm…thik hein. Now put your mobile for charging. And get back to study. Papa would get angry.’ My mom in response.

‘Okaaay…’ Me in a low tone.

I got back to my study table. I had to solve the problem set of Modern Physics. It was already December. My school had to finish the topic. Though my private coaching institute already finished our entire syllabus.

‘Keisa chal raha hein preparation beta? You comfortable?’ My papa came from his office and enquired.

‘Hmm…papa ok ok. I can’t understand physics that well. Modern is easier though.’

‘With time you would learn. This is a time of competition. If you don’t fight, you wouldn’t win the battle. Just study all day night.’

‘But papa I’m not made for these things. You understand, na? I love art and writing. They are my passion. Hmm??’

‘See I don’t want to argue with you again. But you don’t know the condition outside. If you crack these exams, you have 95% probability of being successful in life. Aur uss din Malhotra sir ne nehi bola tha ki agar IIT jaoge toh tumhare liye rishta bhi accha aaega? So study hard my boy.’

‘But…papa?’

‘Concentrate on your studies. I would check you every hour.’

‘Hmmmmmm, Hmmmmmm, Hmmmmm, Hmmmmmm, Hmmmmmm, Hmmmmm…’

My mobile was vibrating. May be some notification came.

‘Papa, just let me check that.’

‘No…Just study. Aur yeh sab tumhare kya naatak chal raha hein? Udhar entrances aa rahe hein. Usse pehle bhi board aa raha hein. 94% ke niche toh chalega hi nehi. Acche se padho aur yeh sab mobile wagera chor do. Nehi toh main mobile le lunga.’

92b4be5709d7f74b3ed6daedfce2cad7I got a warning from dad. I can consider not checking the notification, but I can’t let him take my mobile. So I had to resist my temptation. I got back to studies and as my dad promised, he came to check me every hour. That day I studied as late as 2 pm. Then got back to sleep.

The next day, I woke up. And got ready for my school. After the school hours, I attend a 2 hours coaching class. Life was busier than ever. Still, I manage to draw or write a story or a poem. I have been maintaining a blog by the name – My World – since I was in 8th std. I regularly post my paintings and stories. I have also won many awards in art competitions. Even won 2 awards in national level competitions. My papa admitted me to art school in 2nd std to teach me something more than studies. So called co-curricular activities. And since then, he has been regretting. I stood out exceptional in fine art.

For him, art is just an extra stuff. That should never affect my so-called normal studies. Arguments follow day in and day out. But he never accepted my requests. I never wanted an engineering coaching. Though, he forced me to do that.

I got back home, tired. Papa was not there. So again I got back to my mobile. And then, I spotted some more notifications. Appreciations. They made me feel proud about myself. And then while surfing through my gmail account, I spotted a mail from Sarah Hamilton. I didn’t know anyone by that name. I opened it.

It reads…

Dear Ashish,

Yesterday, I spotted a very beautiful post in instagram. Since I follow the tag #art, I got that. I checked through the profile of the person who posted that. I then clicked the link to his blog. I opened it and surfed all his blog posts till date. And when I realized he has just crossed 18, I was awestruck. I never believed that an 18 years old guy can do that much. Immediately, I checked his contact details and am now writing an email to that person.

Are you that person Ashish? Am I sending it to the correct person? If yes, then believe me, you can be the next Pablo Picasso. If you consistently following this path, no doubt one day your paintings will be sold in millions. I have seen an exceptional artist inside you.

I strongly encourage you to keep inventing new styles. Whenever you find some difficulties or want to get some advice, feel free to mail me. I’ll always respond.

Regards,

Sarah Hamilton,
CEO and MD,
Mosaic Creations.’

I got so excited to see that that I wanted to rush to my mom and tell her everything. But then I resisted. If papa gets to know that, he will snatch my mobile for sure this time. Immediately, I opened google and searched ‘mosaic creations’. It is a London based design firm. They have a wide range of collections. From interior designing to product design. They also auction paintings, sculpture and other such high quality articles. Mostly, newbie need to register for such auctioning and there are series of application process and interviews. And finally, they take some 5 top articles for auctioning. And many a times, these articles get sold in millions. Unbelievable. The CEO of such a company herself mailed me, instead of me mailing her. And when I searched her name, I found she herself is an exceptional product designer. Took degrees from RISD (Rhodes Island School of Design).

I was awestruck. Immediately, I copied the texts of the mail and posted in my blog – ‘Glad to receive a mail from Sarah Hamilton, CEO of Mosaic Creations. Feeling humbled. Check that out.’

The level of happiness was much more than bearable. So I was finding it hard to reply to her mail. Though 20 minutes later, after getting a shower and a short nap, I replied her with a thank you note and some of my best paintings.

‘Aashu, what are you doing? Your mom is calling you for snacks. Go and then get to study table.’ My dad had arrived. I didn’t notice that in excitement.

‘Yes, papa. Papa aaj kya hua na…’

‘Kya hua?’

‘Nothing much. Just got a new booklet of math.’

‘Ok, ok. Then hurry up and start doing that.’

I wanted to tell him about that email from Sarah mam. But then thought to leave it. For him these things don’t matter. He focus on the fact I still struggle with math, physics, chemistry…but never feels pride for my paintings, in those things where I’m the best.

I got back to studies. And every half an hour, I remember about that email. I couldn’t believe she mailed me. If I wouldn’t have been that good, she would have never mailed me just by seeing my posts. May be I’m gifted as my art teacher told me once. And then again, I need to concentrate on my studies. Sooner or later, those exams would come. And if I can’t do well, I will be dead in water. They will blame my paintings for that. So to keep my paintings alive, I need to study and do well there.

Life went on as usual. I got busier with my studies. Board was also arriving and so were the entrances. I couldn’t find time to draw or write. I had to focus more on studies. It felt like I was inside Gas Chamber those months. And dad was the Hitler! I respect my parents. I know they do all that because they care about me. But they never realize that they are caring in wrong way. Killing my passion and forcing me to something else will never do any good to my life. Ultimately, I will fail. Because I can’t tolerate all those things. Still I had to.

The worst verdict came after the result of class 10 exams was declared.

‘Papa, I can’t understand science and all these. I’m telling I will take humanities or else leaving studies.’

‘You, nonsense. Are you fooling? You did so well in science. You’ll take science. Else stay somewhere else.’

‘Papa this is different. It’s just class 10. In 11 and 12, they screw you. Physics sucks the most. So tough. Even a good student cries. Are you joking with my life?’

‘Now will you teach me? I couldn’t become a doctor or an engineer just because we didn’t get that much of family support. Now when I’m giving you all the supports, you want to ruin your life?’

‘Ruin my life? I want to be an artist papa. Everyone says that I’m gifted in art and all those things. I would become successful.’

‘Those who sponsor these things, praise you. So that you are admitted and they take some money from us.’

‘Oh then what about engineering? Coaching? Will they not take money? They are taking in lakhs.’

‘But they are also making you successful.’

‘Successful?? Will I not be successful as a painter? And even if I don’t succeed, that’s my life. Let me live it in my way.’

‘Then, go away. You can’t live in my house. You got that?’

stock-vector-cartoon-of-dad-scolding-his-son-and-sending-him-away-75328135And ‘Dhaap!!’ I got a slap from my mom for arguing with dad. Her 5 fingers got imprinted on my face by my swallowed blood vessels for some 3 days! At times, by those 5 fingers, she used to feed me, support me. But that day, she forced me to something I never wanted.

I took science eventually and even took a coaching. But I didn’t talk with them for some 2 months. Deep inside I was hurt, wounded. In front of me, I could visualize my demise. How can a person who finds it difficult to understand why F = MA, study physics and apply that in problems? Still I had to take it and yes, with time I started forgetting and old bonds started to form. Despite that, I was never satisfied with what I did.

Life seemed to be cruel on me. But I bore every difficult decision. And without much expectation, came the board exam, finally. Those words of Sarah mam used to support me in my pursuit. By that time, I knew that even if I don’t do that well in exams, at least, she will support me to establish. After that email, I used to mail her frequently. Even used to tag her in instagram! And every time, she comes up with something motivating. Always with suggestions. I could never believe that such a big personality was in touch with me.

The pressure was high enough. Everyone I know talks nothing, but one thing – ‘Beta, board mein naak mat katwana. Accha hona hi chahiye.’ By ‘naak mat katwana’, they meant I need to score above 90%. Though my dad raise that bar to 94%. I think more than us, someone else is taking interests in our life. What happens to them if we don’t score that much?

And then, started our dreaded board exam. The last day we had Fine Arts – 27th March. This is the only subject in which I appeared by my own will. I did fairly well in all the subjects. Though I never expect more than 90%. Even if I get 90%, that would be a miracle. JEE Main was scheduled on 7th April. If I qualify (which I was sure I wouldn’t!), I can appear for JEE Adv.

But then a very explosion kind of activity happened on 28th March. Sarah mam mailed me saying –

‘Ashish, an art exhibition is going to be held on 7th April in Mumbai. Our company will sponsor it. I have specially added a category for newbie like you. Else all the participants are highly qualified and experienced artists. So make sure you don’t miss this opportunity. Collect all your paintings and you need to come to Mumbai. All the details are mentioned in the attached file. Check it. And if you are selected, you need to go to London. Don’t worry; we would fund your expenses.

On a personal note, I would say that similarly some 5-6 years from today, we had held an art competition for artists aged under 25. We picked talented artists from different parts of the world. 6 guys were selected from India. And believe me, today, they are playing in millions. Yes, they had to face stiff competition but later they are rewarded. They are now established and renowned. And I would say that you are even better than them. You are the Kohinoor of all the diamonds.  If they are so successful, then you can be ultra successful. So don’t miss this. And I’m arriving India on 5th Apr.’

In excitement, I yelled. But then, as I saw that it will be held on 7th, it scared the hell out of me. JEE Main is also scheduled the same day. I didn’t know what to do. First, I planned to escape a day before that and go to Mumbai with the help of my friends. But then, thought, it’d not be right. My parents will kill me. So I finally decided to show this email to my parents and try to convince them.

‘You idiot. Bustard. Yeh sab kar raha tha tu? Himmat bhi toh dekho. You are asking me to leave JEE???’

‘No, papa. That’s my life. You played with my life as much as you wanted. Par bohut ho gaya ab.’

‘What? How you dare to talk with me like that? You want to become artist? How much will you earn?’

‘A good artist earns way more than an average engineer earns. And an exceptional artist earns even more than a top qualified engineer.’

‘You are teaching me statistics? All these are fake. Later you’ll regret. Aur tujhe ladki kaun dega? What the hell people will talk about us?’

‘Papa, I care about no one. This is my life. I have the right to live it in my way.’

And then ‘Dhaap!!’. Again my mom imprinted her 5 fingers on my face. This time with greater force.

‘Maa, what you want from me? Think practical. Papa took engineering pills. He can’t see anything else than engineering. But what about you? Can’t you understand my feelings?’

And then came a bigger ‘Dhaap!!’ from my dad.

‘You talk like that about me? Kab se tu itna badtameez ho gaya, huh?’

‘Papa, don’t impose your dreams on me. You are trying to live your life using my life. Don’t do this. I beg. Things are becoming intolerable.’

‘Ritu, bring that stick. Aaj iska khabar leta hun.’

I had decided either I will get beaten or beat!! That day my tolerance and patience crossed all limits. I wanted to go away from home. But then I don’t know why mom did something I never believed. Though she slapped me, still, maybe she understood my words.

Instead of bringing a stick, she took out some of my paintings and some of my test papers.

‘Where’s the stick Ritu?’

‘Your son has grown up. Aap peetoge use? Kuch hoga isse?’

‘I will beat him until he doesn’t say he will leave art and all those things forever.’

‘Stop it papa! I will prefer to die than to leave art. You think I’m your puppet?’

And again, I got a ‘Dhaap!’ from dad.

‘Both of you shut up. What kind of father are you? Don’t you see dreams of your son? So disgusting.’

‘Now, you?’

‘Yes, I’m supporting him. I was wrong to stand by you all these years. You’re trying to kill his dreams? From his childhood I have seen him loving nothing else, but art. Itna accha toh painting karta hein. Aur aap toh iske paintings dekho aur iske test papers. He does exceptional painting. But he never did exceptional in tests. Our son doesn’t like science. Engineering. He loves art. Let him do that.’

‘Ritu, insab mein koi future nehi. He will cry and later I’ll need to feed him all the years. He’ll have no reputation of his own.’

‘Toh kaun sa ji engineer ka bhi reputation reh gaya? Gali gali mein engineer hein.’

‘Shut up! Don’t argue with me. You don’t know anything and uselessly arguing. He will become IITian. See what happens after that.

‘He doesn’t even understand physics. Board mein pass ho jaaye na physics mein…wohi humere liye bohut hein. IIT toh dur ki baat hein.’

‘I know him well. He will bring more than 94% in board and would even crack IIT with good rank.’

‘Aapne kabhi IIT ka paper diya ji?’

‘Nehi. Isi ka toh gum hein. Otherwise, I would have been a good engineer.’

‘Ji paper halwa nehi hota. The way you are saying that your son will become an IITian can only be said by a fool. Leave this. Aashu wohi banega jo use pasand hein.’

‘If you say a single word, I wouldn’t tolerate.’

‘They how can Aashu tolerate your words? You forced him to take science. Kabhi use pucha bhi hein usko kya pasand hein?’

And their argument was continuing for next 1 hour. It was already midnight. I kept watching them in silence. One thing was certain, no matter what, my mom got by my side. Now she’s in my support. I had earned a ‘strength’. Sarah mam had been in support for all these months and now came my mom. No one could stop me pursue my passion. And yes, deep inside I had the feeling that one day my dad will also understand. The problem with middle-class Indians is that we want a short cut to success. Being mediocre for so many years, we want our children to fulfill our dreams. But how can it be justified? Every child is born unique. We can’t live anyone else’s dream. Maybe those words to my dad were disrespectful. But just to protect that one sided respectful relationship between parents and children, every child gives up on their dreams, then sooner or later, we all will forget to dream and one day, we would lose that purpose of life.

Thinking about those things, I mailed Sarah mam to come to my home in Delhi to explain everything to my dad. Two lawyers argued for hours that day, but verdict was yet to be announced. It was yet to be decided whether I’ll go for the exhibition or give JEE Main. And Sarah mam will be the judge. She replied affirmative. She understood the situation and yes, she agreed to come.

I don’t know if my dad will agree. But one thing is sure, even if he doesn’t agree, that day I will need to disappoint him. Else, I will have to curse myself all the years.

©Sandeep Deva Misra. 2011-16. All the images in the post are taken from internet. For more information on our copyright policy, go to COPYRIGHT

Disclaimer: Since the story is a work of fiction, it doesn’t depict any actual person or event. Any resemblance to real person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.  

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