My brother is in Class 12 – this means parents get more concerned with how much time he spends watching TV every day, and also take turns to yell at him for playing too much football (consequently tiring himself out, which means he will study lesser and have poor concentration). Amidst all of this, he asked me a question that I did not have an answer for: Why did you study engineering? I see he is beginning to grow intolerant towards the numerous questions he is asked, regarding his plan for higher education. This is the year his name will be spoken of in hushed terms within family circles, whether in fame or shame, we are yet to know.
I do not know why. It seemed like the right thing to do, especially for “good students who chose to study Science” in Class 11. I went ahead and studied physics, maths, chemistry, biotechnology and english (in decreasing order of time spent on subject), performed reasonably well in my exams, took up chemical engineering, and got through four years of college. Everyone said to me in indulgent tones: Oh Chemical Engineer! Just like your father? Sometimes I agreed, to save myself from a conversation.
Having completed a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering, and a Master’s in Environmental Engineering, not finding a job, working someplace far from what I imagined myself working in, not finding a job yet again, and now working someplace else which is definitely in my field of study but for roughly 10% of my first salary – I find that I still have no answer to that question.
From the time I was four to the time I was ten, I called myself Anusha IPS. In fact, people who know me from that time of my life still remember me as Anusha IPS. It appears as though I believed I would be a brave police officer, saving the innocent, catching criminals, and having people salute me. Ten years ago, I used to want to be a journalist. I imagined myself writing for a leading newspaper, others quoting me, and being famous. Somewhere along the way, I seem to have forgotten not only my dreams, but also how to dream, along with several telephone numbers. Isn’t it so much easier being a child? When you have vivid dreams and the courage to be anything you wanted?
In this deeply philosophical mode, I begin advising my brother on how one must do what they like, not do something because everyone else was doing it, or because it looked like the right thing to do. Of course, there is only so much patience a 17 year old will have. He closes the door and walks out of the room.