The mehendi ceremony was on. There were about half a dozen beautifully clothed and bedecked girls waiting in the sidelines for their turns. I happened to be sitting right behind them and could not help listening to their chatter. What started as crackling fun talk amongst long lost cousins, soon took sombre undertones.
Apparently, some of them were app-earing for the board exams that year and the others would be treading the haloed path soon. They discussed about their tight schedules when most of their waking hours were spent in attending school, special classes, tuitions, mock tests et al.
When they were not flitting from one venue to another in pursuit of academic excellence, they were sweating it out with assignments, projects and studying. Soon enough, their smugness gave way to the boredom of banality. One of them hesitatingly mentioned how she resented the pressure. The others agreed empathetically.
Just then, the mother of one of the girls came along. She passed a tab to her daughter and asked the girl to revise her theorems, instead of wasting her time. She smiled at the other girls and told them that all of them should also be studying too, if at all they hoped to emerge winners in the rat race. The girls shook their heads exasperatedly.
A septuagenarian, who happened to see the onset of the study session in the marriage hall, sighed aloud. She remarked how the world opened a plethora of opportunities to girls these days. In her time, most girls were married off before they completed high school. She patted their heads affectionately and went her way.
Almost immediately, one of the girls remarked how lucky the old lady and her contemporaries were. Another young woman said she was paying the penalty for being born in the wrong age. As the discussion took an unexpected turn, it sounded like utterly nonsense whining in an age where generations of people have fought tooth and nail for the Right to Education especially for the girl child. Yet, a little reflection revealed that urban students studying in private schools, which take pride in spectacular results, are being overburdened in the name of education these days. The insecurities and frustrations of the youngsters sometimes reach a point of vexation which prompts them to run away from home or precipitates as suicide attempts when they fall short of expectations or fail. If we hope to make education an enriching exercise, we must remember that all work and no play will make Jack a dull boy and Jill a dull girl!