Wednesday, November 03, 2004


I recently ran into an old friend of mine .Both of us were equally surprised that we recognized each other. His name is Prashanth and studied 7th grade with me. Even though I studied in gzillion schools, i always make it a point to remember most of my ex-classmates. You would be surprised, how many people I remember from my 3rd grade. Someday I hope to write a book which has a chapter dedicated to each school I studied. This would give me an opportunity to describe some of the "characters" i have met.

Anyway back to Prashanth. The school where I completed my 7th grade was in Tirunelveli, a really wonderful town. I joined about a month after school opened and in my first day at school i was given a "weird" welcome by my new classmates. (As a side note: the first person, I met in this school, who was sitting alone in class when the school assembly was in progress, went on to become one of my closest friends. The person had skipped the assembly because he had a fractured hand he drove me away from the class and asked me to attend the assembly. From that year we studied together for 10 more years in 4 different institutions. But more on that later.) In the first interval break after the teacher had left, about 10-15 students swarmed around me and asked me to write one paragraph from some english textbook. they wanted to check my handwriting. "Not cursive at all" yelled one boy called Saravanan ( he had a crew cut with probably 1 mm hair growth in his head). I was thinking "cursive writing! what's that?". Then after asking my rank and statistics in my 6th grade ( which was quite embarassing and my thought when moving out of 6th grade was "thank god its buried here itself"), they asked me to draw some parrot. They wanted to know if I could draw as well as Prashanth.

I had never drawn much before, didn't consider myself to be an artiste. I usually concede defeat in such situations and say " no i am not much of a 'drawer'( in all forms of the word)". But the thought that they were comparing me with someone spurred me. I drew something that resembled a parrot run over by a bus. They were all happy. It was apparent that Prashanth's reign and the king of artists in "Sri Jayandra Saraswathi Samigal Silver Jubilee School" 7th grade would continue. Prashanth was a really good artist. He could clearly visualise what he wanted to draw and could draw from his own imagination. Which I thought was splendid. He was good in drawing replica's also. People would just gather around him, give him some photograph and ask him to draw. He would draw parrots, Kapil Dev's profile, butterflies, sunrise, man, woman, baby. His precision and surgeon like fingers would amaze us. For many years after I had left thirunelveli, where Prashanth had moved from real life to memory, I always used remember him and think "only if i had that kind of talent". I used to imagine prashanth becoming a big painter and leading a successfull career as an artist.

So seeing him as a software engineer was kind of bummer for me. All roads in India seems to lead to IT. I could not contain my dissapointment on seeing him like this and my 4th question to him was "dude!! whats up with the drawing stuff". He didnt even remember that he used to draw. He had abandoned that talent ages ago that he did not even account it in his talents. Amidst all the cybase, visual basic, C, C++, the pencil and paper got lost. I obviously don't blame him. He didn't come from an affluent family so he had to earn to support his family. But somehow I could help feeling sad for people like Prashanth.

The apathy that our country's educational system shows towards special talents saddens me. No other word to describe it. I can only quote Enigma when i say "sadness". A good system that values a person's unique talent as a sacred art must be able to nurture and find avenues to express that talent. But instead in the competitive herd such gems are buried forever. I only hope when he is 40 or 50 he has earned enough money, he would have the self-realization to do something about his talent. Again, that depends on him being aware that such a talent resides in him . talking to him made me feel that he thought the whole drawing thing was a joke.

I dont have a solution(not yet) or a career option for a perosn who has a talent to draw very well. I am just finding out that this IT industry is eating in everybody. sportsmen, painters, poets, philosophers everybody. I am not critisizing this either. Its just that i am unable to dismiss such stuff as one of the harsh realities of life.


Anonymous said...

Sondha Thambi'ya enna venumo, padikka udala.. pinna enna da:)


Hawkeye said...

ur talents dont pertain to school or art. Although either may be involved depending upon convenience. they can be pursued parallely with anything ;-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Prabhu :)