Why can't we all accept the fact that each one is special in his/her own way?

Comparison, I am sure, is the most despised act by everyone but the most practised one, in almost every home. In fact, the journey of comparison starts right from birth — be it the sharpness, the walk and the talk; every single detail of two babies is compared in the same colony or apartment. Then comes the day when one of these two kids is able to recite the entire nursery rhyme “Twinkle, twinkle ...in the sky” without a flaw. And, yes, the seed of comparison has now germinated. The parents of the other kid have already started hoarding kg of almonds and the best health drink in the market for better memory retention and faster growth, for their child gets stuck up halfway with “twinkle...” like a pirated VCD. Rhymes VCDs are bought and day and night, the parents recite the rhymes so much so even the pet parrot has learnt to repeat it flawlessly! NOW the kids are ready for competition to shine like a diamond in the apartment/ colony's sky!!!...

I recently happened to take my five-year-old kid to an inter-school competition (for ages 2-6) and was flabbergasted to see large numbers of enthusiastic parents with their tiny tots and also the latter's juniors either crying inconsolably in the mother's hand or safe in the mother's womb, almost ready to step into this competitive world. A thousand faces including mine with one common desire — “my child should win.” More than being happy to see each other, the parents were intimidated by the threat of heavy competition.

I could see in every corner of the venue parents conducting rigorous and vigorous rehearsals of their children's performance; storytelling, speech, fancy dress, painting, dance, song and many more. No smiling or waving was permitted to avoid distractions. Some over-enthusiastic parents made their children participate in all the events (reason stated — to shed stage fear)!

The competition was over and the prizes were distributed. The winners (parents, not kids) carried the certificates and trophies flashing their 32 teeth with a 180-degree smile, hugging and kissing their kids, but the not-so-fortunate kids were generously showered with harsh words, blame, a hit here and there and comparisons with clenched teeth. Some spouses too got a share of the scorn but they were preoccupied with the comparative analysis (rather paralysis) of the targets achieved and to be achieved in their office. The result, serpentine queues at the coaching classes for dance, music, Veda chanting, painting, etc., irrespective of whether or not the child has the inclination to learn the same. Now, I feel like dedicating the line, “how I wonder what you are,” to all these parents.

Well, this goes on for years and then comes the comparison for the preparation of the board, entrance exams, — “How studious is she, learn from her, (rather be like her).” “Look at his timetable.” Then the D-day arrives, anxious parents and trembling students awaiting their results hoping to get into the best colleges. When the result is out, all hell breaks loose for the ones who cannot make it. A series of accusations and some common dialogues begin reverberating in the house. “Why did God give me such a dullard?”, “how lucky are his/her parents!”, “how I wish he/she was my child” and the grandparents start lecturing on “those days and these days”— a comparative study of changing times!

Some children also compare their parents with those of their friends and make unreasonable demands for costly cellphones and e-gadgets, and the middle-class parents slog hard and sacrifice many a pleasure to buy their children the gifts desired hoping for a higher score in return. And they feel cheated when their children fail to perform, hence this outburst. But a majority of the children suffer due to the high expectations from their parents.

After academics, it is the turn of the campus selections to take their toll on the children. “My son got placed at so & so? Mind you, not only is the company compared (Fortune 500s) but also the profile, designation, even the salaries, the projects — (whether local or “States”). But does one know the plight of the children not placed anywhere? Adjectives like useless, waste, incapable and dumb are conferred upon them by their very own parents — “If he could, why couldn't you,” or “how did he get it and not you?”

Somehow, jobs are acquired and everything is fine and then comes the comparison for match-making/ hunting. Oh! Who gets the best bride/bridegroom, then the grandeur of the marriage and the comparisons are carried forward. A year or two after marriage, a kid is born and the same vicious cycle and never-ending phenomenon called comparison continues. Why can't we all accept the fact that each one is special in his/her own way? Well, I just want to conclude by quoting the famous lines of poet Rahim, jahan kaam avai sui kaha karai tarwari — the sword even if bigger cannot do the work of a needle.

(The writer's email ID is: deepusekhu@gmail.com)

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