Of “silly mistakes” and “carelessness

On many nights, my roommate and I would be lying on our backs staring up at the ceiling fan, and chatting well into the night about what life would have in store for us. On one of those occasions, a shuddering thought occurred to us. “Nammaku porakardhukku padippae eralaenna…???”, and we instantly recognized it as a problem that would baffle us. For the tamil challenged that would read as – what if our kid is academically challenged? I remembered this all of a sudden after so many years, because the other day, I oversaw my friend’s daughter’s kumon homework and found myself saying two words that I never understood as a kid – “silly mistakes” and “carelessness”.

As in many tambram households, the first 21 years of my life was expected to be solely dedicated to the most important job of studying. “Padi.. padi.. padi”, my mother would constant harp, as I sat with my book in hand but watched the India Pakistan one-day match out of the corner of my eye. “How can you concentrate?”she would say as Nadeem Shravan’s music blared in the background. My father would come to my support and say that he studied quite successfully with AIR crackling in the background.  “How long is your break going to be?” my mother would demand, as a 5 minute break from my exam preparation stretched to a half hour distraction. “What vambu?” my mother would frown as I smoothly became a participant in the backyard gossip exchange conversation. “Have you finished revising everything?” she would repeatedly ask on the day before the exam. If I confidently replied ‘yes amma’, she would say “Bring me your book, and let me see how well you have revised”. Sure enough, I would fumble and frown at every question she asked. “Poi padi” she would shout and off I went, stomping away with book in hand.

If all this was for the preparation, one can well imagine the scene when my brother or I came home with marks. Being a teacher’s child has it’s big minuses. My brother’s marks and mistakes would reach my mother’s ears and eyes even before it reached his. Any attempt on his part, to cushion the effect of poor marks by waiting to present it to appa and amma with some better marks would never work, because amma would be demanding on their ride home “So, heard you got your maths paper today??”. My school was more forgiving, and therefore my teachers never ran to my mother to squeal on me. My maths answer papers would scream silly mistakes and carelessness, because the teacher would have written it red and bold and screaming on the side of the top sheet. My mother would clench her teeth and ask “Won’t you check you check your paper before you hand it back?”, and I would look at the floor. How dare I tell her I was so bored at the end of the 3 hour exam, that all I wanted to do was hand the answer sheet to the teacher and walk out.  Amma would play the “I am too mad at you to sign the report card” game every time. To this day, I don’t know if it was her way of letting me know I should have done better, or her way of passing on at least some responsibility to my father (like let him at least sign the report card, when I waste all my “thondai thanni” getting these kids to study). My father would sometimes play along and pretend that he was never going to sign on a report card that had such lousy marks (they weren’t all that lousy really..). Eventually, the next morning after making some false promises, and “I will next time”s I would walk out triumphantly, signed report card in hand. Appadi.. if studying was hard, writing exams was harder, getting that signature on the report card was truly the toughest ordeal of all.

Then there was the PTA meetings, where parents and teachers could jointly criticize the poor student for behaviour at school and home. My father only came to two parent teacher meetings. My mother stayed out of that – she didn’t want someone telling her “vaadhiyar pillai makku”, you see. The first time my father came along, I was in class 4, and the teacher politely said, she is so talkative in class, she will even make a stone talk if it sits next to her. That was some lesson, because the next time my father was informed of a PTA meeting was 6 years later, when I was in class 10, and I knew that pretty soon, there would be no more PTA meetings in my life. 

So indeed, now that I am parent and I have so much trouble getting my daughter to eat even Rava Kesari, I wonder what I would do, if she did not sit in one place and study like the good girl her mother was.

P.S: Amma and Appa, don’t air my dirty laundry in public pleeezz!

23 thoughts on “Of “silly mistakes” and “carelessness

  1. Ha Ha your lines remind me of my school days. My Amma being a teacher I have experience almost most of what you have mentioned 🙂

    I use to write a mock test prior to the exam and as well a technical(!!) 😉 interview after the exam. She would expect me to write down the answers for the maths problems so that she could verify it 😦

    Rekha: Haha.. I’ve done that answer checking too, but more to satisfy my curiosity I guess. I would match them with my friends the moment I got out, and usually if many people had the same answer it was deemed correct.

    1. shila bajaj

      my daughter has got very bad experiances about exams. but becuse of your this site my daughter is studing very well.

  2. padmajav

    It is indeed stressful to be a student in India… I was always compared to my first-ranker brother while I trailed far far behind! But thankfully, I had too much fun in school to brood over bad marks for more that a few minutes!!
    Anyway, someone told me that the Indian Education System was designed by the British during the pre-independence days to break our spirit… Don’t know how authentic it is, but it surely brings down our self-esteem…
    Rekha: On the other hand, in this country people let their children take their own decisions, and I’ve seen many of them who dabble around in so many different unrelated things, and finally settle down only well into their 30s.

  3. I can relate to most of what to say based on what I have seen with my cousins. Thankfully or not, my home did not have those pressures and I guess in some way it did reflect in the choices we made as adults starting a career. I really wish I had studied better.

    Rekha: Haha.. Na padichadhu porum I think. Only regret is not pursuing my paatu class properly.

  4. My mom stopped attending Parent-teacher meetings after I reached Vth. Always the same comment. Intelligent boy, too talkative, finishes before everyone else and then disturbs others…

    Careless mistakes didn’t spare me even during my masters! nostalgic post…Everything except teacher-mom and dadeem shravan matches.

    I was in diapers when nadeem shravan were around you see….

    Rekha: For the record, before you make me seem too old, I would like to state here, that I was probably few years out of that same diaper stage myself.

  5. Hehe. I never, NEVER studied when I had to 😉 My parents’d beg me before the exam and ask me to study. Not like pressure though my mom was a teacher, but just like: Konjum kooda padikyaliye nee? type of lines 😀

    My sis on the other hand ALWAYS studied. In fact, I do not remember her doing anything else. But my parents were bindaas. They never asked us to do anything. To date, my mom says that for one kid, she hasd to beg her to study, while for the other, she had to beg her not to 😀 LOL

    Rekha: Haha, I’ve seen those families. We used to fret at the inaction in their case.

    Sorry for hijacking your space!

  6. So much trouble for Rava Kesari? Send her for Masters somewhere far like us. Then she’ll know the arumai of mom’s Rava Kesari.

    Damn, I should be supporting her, no?

    @Maxu: Saying you were in diapers during Nadeem Shravan ellam konjam over!!

    Rekha: Haha.. Mastersaa?? Innum school ku pogavae nariya varsham irukku.

  7. chokkathangam

    er.. my family different. i never gave enough respect to my parents or the school to actually care about what they had to say. My parents never did have much problems with my studies. but when i did badly even occasionally, my standard reply to their answers (between 3rd to 6th std) was along the lines of “what exactly did u learn about in school anyway? science has progressed. it aint what it was when u were young. so please..” In my higher classes i would just laugh off their advice (yes i am arrogant to a fault).. worst is my sisters do exactly the same minus getting good grades.

    Rekha: Umm… So I’ve been a good girl pat pat!

  8. Pradeep

    Hmm ingeyum adhe dhaan… My parents stopped the “padi padi” only after I reached 12th standard (strengely!) because for some reason I showed uncharacteristic maturity and responsibility. That probably arose as a result of growing up listening to “nammalaam forward caste…” 😡

    Rekha: Yeah.. my mother read the post, and was commenting to my husband that now she was not sure if I studied only because she made me do it or if I had at least a little bit of interest in me anyway. I guess at some point, the FC factor and other things, kind of make you study anyway.

  9. i can relate to getting bored of the exam…i would just wait to hand over the paper..even if i had the time i would never revise…and my parents were pretty cool on the ‘padi’ part…maybe they realised i was a total ‘mandu’ 😀

    Rekha: Haha.. May be they should make exams shorter so at least we are still interested in it before we reach the end.

  10. I was only ever pressured to study during class XII, specifically so that I could get a “state rank.” I used to coyly reply that it would be unfair to some poor rural kid whose only hope for higher education is getting a state rank, especially since I had already been admitted to college in the US 🙂 My mom’s reaction was “indha vayasileye evvalo kozhuppu paaru….”

    Rekha: Haha.. my mother used to say “oru reaction irukkaa paaru”

  11. Me

    Maami kalakal post…

    My wife and I have the same discussion. What if we have an academically challenged kid? Or what if it has negatives of both of us? We have no answers…

    My studies were not closely monitored by my parents…may be if they did I would have done a lot better…but anyways things turned out to be fine and I am happy with what I have now.

    Rekha: Wow.. Negatives of both of us.. now that is a more serious problem.. Umph..

  12. Allow me please to beg off this topic. (My school leaving certificate says I stood third in the country in English -I and I’m convinced there was a mistake in there)!
    Most traumatic twelve years of my life were in schooling. The only good that came of it was one love letter, great friends I could ever wish for and one long kiss!

    Rekha: Ayyo.. one naughty maami you were 😀

  13. Jagadalapradhapan

    I did not know that diapers existed in 70s.

    Rekha: Neither me nor Max were around in the 70s. Naanga elaam 80s babies.

  14. “Rekha: Haha.. my mother used to say “oru reaction irukkaa paaru”

    Haha, I’ve heard my paati say that to my cousin so many times before she pulls his ear to get a reaction. In school I used to feel pretty bad if I did poorly in an exam and so my mom wouldn’t add insult to injury. But yea she did use her pearls of wisdom on me when she wanted to make me study – ‘morning hour has gold in its mouth’ she would say waking me up at 6am to study Tamil.

    Rekha: Oh ya.. it’s really hard having moms who are morning people, when you are so not. My daughter is lucky, I will never be up before her asking her to study.

  15. enga athuliyum ith athan agum…but i sadly have a sister who studies like hell…. I have AKKAPRESSURE 😦

    Rekha: haha.. Oh.. I wonder if my brother had that as well, though not directly.

  16. Neither my father nor my mother knew exactly which class we were in. Oh, it was bliss to be born in that time!

    Rekha: Lucky not to just to be born in that time, but probably also born with many siblings (Am I right?). My mom was the only one, and I am quite sure she must’ve got at least some pressure from her mom, even though she was an excellent all-rounder and everything.

  17. Rajesh

    Hey Rekha.. your case is much better than mine. You can atleast ask your daughter to study because you were academically better! Myself being a ‘borderline case’ for most (actually all) of my schooling, how can I gather enough courage to even ‘request’ my son to study?!
    Oru vaarthai yenna pathu koundamani style la.. ‘appa dei.. nee mattum shool la romba padichiya da’ nu ketta yenna panrathu!

    Rekha: Haha.. Elaarkum andha problem irukkum.. vaera vaera vishayathlae.. Like I am sure when my daughter is a teen, I would want her to keep her room clean, except if my parents play spoilsport and tell her exactly how my room used to be, I would have to shut up about it for the rest of my life.
    P.S: Hey sorry Rajesh, your comment was in spam for some reason. I saw it only today and unspammed it. Welcome to the blog!

  18. maami are you from Tambaram? I was in Tambaram for two years.. Earned my masters in MCC… really enjoyed my time there.. seeing the word Tambaram bought back some memories. Thanks.

    Rekha: No no.. I am not from any particular place. Read this to understand what I mean. My use of the word “tambram” is actually a shortform for “tamil brahmin”.

  19. Nanduri Hamsaanandini

    I can relate so much to your blog that I don’t mind commenting on it even if its this late! Kalakkitengo Maami!
    My Mother also worked in my school. So there was always a separate set of expectations that I had to live upto.
    You know there is another minus if one’s mom worked in the same school. If only you happened to do extremely well (and nobody else happened to do that well) then it was invariably deemed that the question paper was leaked to you by your mother’s friend!!! ( How I wish my mother worked in Pune University and these things actually happened)
    Silly Mistakes and Carelessness were so characteristic of my maths paper. Always missed 100 by a whisker. (I once wrote 2 x 3 equals 24, in X Standard. Got a loong lecture from the Principal in front of the whole class)

    Rekha: 2 x 3 = 24? Hehehe..

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