– Hello, sir.
– Hello, ma’am! How is Viviane?
– Oh she is well, sir. She left for Germany yesterday. She got into a Ph D program there.
– That’s great news. She had told me about that a few days ago, on chat.
– Oh, okay.
– She sounded a bit off when I asked her about her music. She said that she was out of touch.. what’s that about?
– Yes sir she had to discontinue, studies and all that –
– She did not sound happy about it, ma’am. In fact, she had told me months back she had plans to make a small band with some of her friends.
– Ha ha yes sir, she had all that, but all that is not possible na.
– I think all that would have been possible, ma’am. Excellent students all around the world do all that all the time. Maybe she will get the support she needs now, now that she is out of here. But it would have been better if she’d got the support from when she was at school.
– You are saying that sir, I know, I sent her to all that. But you know in the higher classes the pressure is much higher. She had to stop.
– She did not have to stop because she got to higher classes, ma’am. She had to stop because you made her stop.
– Why would I do that sir, I only made her start learning when she was young.
– My question is a bit different, ma’am. Why did you start her on that, if you were going to take her off it later on? Was it just because it looks good on her portfolio?
– I don’t why you are saying like this sir, students can’t just forget about their career and only do their hobbies.
– I have known her for quite some time now, ma’am. She wouldn’t have to pick one and give up another – she was perfectly capable of doing both. She knows that too. But you did not let her. She could have pursued whatever field of research she wanted – she is certainly bright enough for it – and she could have developed her dreams around music at the same time, working on it bit by bit, year by year. She could have been a scientist who sings to her heart’s content.
But you insisted on perfection of marksheets. You made her work continuously, not in service of her education, but in service of her performance in exams – and that too in comparison to her classmates. You needed her to score the highest. After every exam, every time you met me, that was the single greatest concern of yours. You never gave her the breaks she needed to have a life outside of her marksheets. Marksheets which, after she got into university, would not matter one bit. Do you think the top researchers in the world get there by consistently topping every exam in their lives?
– But to get to that level she needs that percentage, sir. Otherwise –
– It was never about scoring enough, ma’am. You were never happy with her performance, not once in all these years. With you, it was never about getting in a university – it was getting the sweet spot at the top. Have you forgotten? – you used to enquire about the top scores of students from around the class, every time you met me in the meetings. Why? Did that have to do with her university admissions? When she was in the seventh grade??
She could have been successful enough without sacrificing her dreams, ma’am. You took that away from her.
– Things like this, ma’am, – this is why I am resolved about never being a parent myself, in any sense of the term. I see parents do things like this all the time, and it scares me – that I might turn out to be the same kind of selfish, the same kind of mistaken. – I won’t have that. – This is better. This is safe. This will not encumber me with that kind of selfishness. This work, caring for these kids? – I know they aren’t here to stay. They will leave. I am not going to save them for the future. It’s better that way for me.
I will get going, ma’am. Thanks for the talk. Good evening.