Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Talent

A nice old friend of mine from school, who sends me automatic greetings on Diwali, occasionally also includes my name in a list that he sends youtube videos to. Once such video (two years ago) that caught my attention was of this five-year old playing Mozart for an opera audience in Canberra. 'Damn', I thought. 'Someday I should play like that'. I is not the first time I had thought that.

When I was six, my mom dragged me to the local temple for a Classical dance performance by a ten-year old. The audience would have tallied two hundred. I was not interested at all but I zoned in towards the last bit of the performance where the audience clapped heavily and lauded the girl. I was pricked. I spoke little on the way home but I burst out once we were there. 'I will be a better dancer than that girl...and everyone else out there'. Mom said 'Definitely', and put me to bed. The great fire lasted a few minutes until I slept off.

After that there have been many such fits (sometimes more than one a day). I still haven't learnt to how to use a paint brush, I hold a green belt in Taek-won-do, I field on the boundary line position where batsmen convert twos to threes, I last ten seconds in a deathmatch, I run a hundred meters in twelve-and-a-half seconds and I weigh fifty six kilos with my shoes on.

My ingrained epigentics logic always told me that it is because I was from a very ordinary family with ordinary people. I started running out of excuses for the same as I grew older though. My father turned out to be National Science talent scholar and a medal winning financial analyst, my mother - a vocalist and my sister sings, paints and weighs more (though I am the better fielder, ha!). My extended family helped more by snatching man-of-the-series awards at national tournaments, winning international quizzes and even landing a Padmashri. My best friend lead the brat pack in all that would matter to twelve year olds.

Oh and if you were wondering, my top rank ever in class was seventh. For one semester.

I had some talents of course. I knew (and still know) updated character bios on most comic book heroes and foes. Em...actually that was the only talent. The other one could be the ability to over-publicize myself but well. When people want to be nice to me they agree that the latter one is and former still is not.

It was getting serious. Old uncles were starting to call me a computer wiz for helping them send email attachments. I had to find something that my mom could tell her friends about. Ok, maybe not that. But something to show that I am cool too. I had always believed that my inner talent would burst forth and shine and two hundred people will clap for me...someday. But it didn't happen. I was starting to give up and call myself ordinary. Well somebody had to be average.

But it was weird to live that way because I was not allowed to. A small portion of my class called me a scolty-bhai (bambaiyya for scholar) while my parents got somber when my grades came. "You are spoke good English re", was a very positive remark I got when I returned "rich in experience" from a small voice-culture competition. My computer magic of course got its praise from some well wishers because my deeds had grown to helping them unmute microphones. I was getting eaten up. Either I should become what I am being called or atleast they should stop their nonsense.

Cutting across to now, after a couple of lucky public examination and admission breaks (my sceptics will agree), I cannot say that I have gotten any closer to greatness; nor has my undeserved acclaim come down. To some I am still the ace swimmer and a nobel prize winner. But one thing has changed and that is that I am at peace with it.

Maybe I did give it a try. Maybe it was my friends' fault for not letting me try and learn. Maybe I didn't have the right teaching or evaluation techniques. Maybe my parents should have enrolled me in a competitive class for art or sport when I was five instead of letting me watch tv. Or maybe I just did not have the drive.

But clearly I cannot suck for lack of a revolutionary talent. To the old uncles and the classmates and the friends who thought I had it, I made a difference for that moment. For those moments I did feel on top of things. I still do. And if I could achieve that without a real talent, any kid should be able to. It is not worth it to breed children to win. It is not worth feeding them on competition and telling them that a top spot is the only thing in life. But it definitely does them a great parenting service to let them be happy and help them discover things on their own. I thank my parents for that.

I am still working on it. I am pushing to improve every little thing i do. And atleast my housekeeping,badminton and vocal music skills are starting to show. The important thing is to try and do everything and sometime maybe, just a good paintball shot at that moment can make the difference to someone. I will open on batting and hit a six off the first ball one day.


Sankar Deiva said...

Good one bala."It is not worth it to breed children to win" - Brilliant!

Me! said...

good one:). makes up for the polambing partners we used to be.i miss it :(

Bala Venkatakrishnan said...

i still gripe and bitch divya :P