Saturday, January 23, 2010

In profuse strains of unpremeditated art...

One of my mother's students committed suicide. Dad informed me, adding, "The 3 idiots effect."
I didn't ask for any other information, because sometimes it is easier to deal with statistics than dealing with real people. However much we try and shroud it in euphemisms, "13 people died" is far easier on our tongue, on our mind, than saying "Ma's student passed away." However indifferent or concerned we pretend to be, it always seems closer home when it happens to someone we know.

I can't imagine the parents are going through. Ma feels as guilty perhaps, being the teacher, and I wouldn't blame her. She has always taken it as her responsibility to counsel all these kids about their adolescent problems with love, puberty, alcohol, career, studies. I wonder if there are many teachers who take as much effort as she does, to connect with the students. Needless to say, she is immensely popular with her brood. So with all the honesty they give her, I can imagine why she would feel guilty. If she had spotted signs early on, that what this kid was going through was more than what other kids are also going through, maybe a life could've been saved. It may just be that she finds it unethical being part of a so flawed education system where students/kids are humiliated in school and at home for not performing well. I don't know, I will have to ask her.

What is also interesting is how many people have connected the dots and drawn a line to the movie. We can't help it, it's the job of engineers and scientists to collect stats, and present it as a trend. Somewhere along a trace of that line, the individual and his problems get lost. As I said, sometimes it is easier to deal with statistics than dealing with real people. "Suicides are on the rise after 3 idiots"-- was anyone even collecting statistics before the movie was released? Was anyone even serious about them? Plus, I fail to understand why 3 idiots has collectively had such an impact, but not a movie like Rocket Singh. How does watching the movie create such a big impact? Why do kids suddenly identify with the character, and like him, to take the harsh (or easy?) way out of life's troubles?

Which brings me to the bigger question - is the blame really on the educational system or on the society in general? The way it seems to have evolved, everyone seems to want to raise a prodigy, you know, a multilingual blackbelted rockstar with an IQ of 175. Studies, exams, education are just a small part of this.

I was reading some posts here and there about how the government could help it with educational reforms etc. The policy is important, but this could also be the issue of mental health in general. I still believe that the onus for it lies closer home. We see our family, our friends, our neighbour's kids. It should be easier for normal people to see signs of depression or anxiety in people who are amongst us. It should be easier for us to accept these as a valid illnesses. It should be easier for us to accept that some people need help, and not be dismissive about it. The govt can only do as far as to create helplines and ease up question papers and collect stats, but unless there is a broader social change, an acceptance of the individual and his mental state, the problem will perhaps not go away.


Ashwin said...

This was very sad to read. It would be hard on anyone close to the student. :-(

Mo said...

Yeah, I can't even imagine what the parents are going through.