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She looked at her beautiful paintings adorning the wall, and sat down in her favorite chair to pen her letter. That done, she took a deep breath and went ahead with her plan.

***

Ananya was studying in the 12th Standard of a reputed school in Bangalore. She was attending coaching classes every day of the week and weekend as well. It was the all-important board exams of course. She was a very good student. She was among the toppers in her class. Her teachers loved her. Her coaching class teacher was banking on her to top the Board exams and showed her the “Wall of fame” where he was dreaming of putting her picture the next year. Her parents were egging her constantly to give her best. Even her Principal had called her with 4 other classmates to give them a special pep talk about how the school was looking at them to be toppers.

Something started going wrong for Ananya after the first 3 months. She was increasingly tired and worried. Her marks started falling. Her parents were worried sick that she would somehow lose the race. Her father started hitting out at her mother for not taking enough care of her. The mother who had quit her job to supervise Ananya’s studies felt wounded and resentful. Ananya was told not to waste time in silly activities like painting and badminton that she enjoyed. It was just the matter of one year. She can do the things she enjoyed after that year. After all just like her elder brother, she had to be a doctor too.

Walls were closing in on her. Her parents were increasingly fighting among themselves because of her. Her tuition teacher was worried that she was not concentrating well enough when in the last test, she only scored 92%. She had it in her to do better than that. Everyone was pushing her to work harder, to perform to get that elusive 95-96%. And she was crumbling under the weight of expectations. She feared that she would let everyone down. She hated to be the cause of everyone’s unhappiness. Her father who had worked so hard to send her to the best school and tuition classes. Her mother who quit her job so that she could actively help her handle her studies. Her brother who was her ideal. She loved them all and could not let them all down. Surely, such a life would not be worth it!

Those were the last thoughts in her mind as she popped the entire bottle of sleeping pills and drifted into sleep.

Sirens screeching, the ambulance took Ananya to hospital. But, she was already gone!

***

Yet another young life had been sacrificed on the pyre of expectation. Every warning sign that she was not able to cope, that she was losing her battle went unheeded. She had forgotten to smile. She looked confused and upset. Even her normal performance at school became erratic. She became increasingly withdrawn and even lost her appetite. But each such sign was unseen by those who had put blinkers on. They kept pushing her till she could take it no longer.

We give life to our children. We don’t own them. What could be more precious than their happiness and life?

This post is based on a true story that I read.

This is an entry for The Moral of the Story is…! Contest by Indiblogger and Colgate.

Pic courtesy: Freedigitalphotos.net

Comments

comments

56 Thoughts on “A young life gone forever!

  1. This is an almost real story, Rachna. There are many kids who are pressurized like that. It’s at that tipping point when parents have to realize what they are doing and a very emotional phase. We need to educate them, give them morals, but we can’t own them and expect them to live our dreams…

  2. Its a rat race parents are into and the same ambiance is promoted in the name of academics and competition. Child’s liking and choices are compromised with for making it a winning horse of the race where the society appreciates only an MBA from IIMs or Engineer from IIT ..
    Rachna you have nailed the issue rightly and I feel every parent who give deaf ears to these warnings are being selfish in the name of thinking about their kid’s future !!

    • I agree My Say, the convenient excuse is kid’s future. What about the child’s own wishes. And why such a fuss about boards. Now that we are all grown up,no one even cares about which college we graduated from. Why put a child’s life at stake for this?

  3. Day by day the competition to get maximum marks is increasing. Even 98% is not enough to get a seat in the favourite subject in a good college. And most parents want their children to become engineers and doctors. There are so many other subjects to study and come up in life…enjoying life on the side. Feel very sorry for the children. Understanding parents will have happy children who would do well in life!

  4. Parental ambitions or teachers’ expectations when carried too far goading the child to the limits of physical and mental possibility produces sometimes disconcerting results as in the case of Ananya..To strive to be at the top is good but not the sole criterion for success in life. Sadly the world has become too competitive and combative for comfort.

  5. I know this is fictional, but it could well be the reality for so many kids. It makes me so angry when adults put the weight of their own ambitions on their kids’ shoulders!

  6. Very lovely story Rachna. I just heard about Jiah Khan’s suicide yesterday and had similar thoughts about why such very young people would choose to give up the joys of living…
    Loved your blog! Keep it up!

    • Hi Amritorupa, Welcome to my blog. Thank you for your warm words and for connecting with the post. Just a few days back we saw congratulatory messages about exam results followed by newspaper articles of student suicides. And that is always the order. It makes me so sad to see this loss of life.

  7. It’s getting a bit depressing reading about young people choosing death as a way out of their perceived miseries. After Jiah, I just read about Paris Jackson’s suicide attempt.
    A sad read.

    • Yes, it is very depressing. I wonder if we are failing to teach our kids to handle failures and breakups. Are they so fragile now that small things like a scolding over watching too much TV is driving them to suicide. It scares me this yo-yoing of ultra high expectations coupled with inability to cope with what life hands out to you.

  8. Parental pressure, peer pressure, so many things are involved Rachna. Also I feel that our parenting too is to be blamed. Leave aside our ambitions which we put on children,w e cushion their lives so much that some are not able to accept failures. It is a rat race out there. Some will win, and some ….I won’t say lose, some will be be behind.
    When I see kids reality shows, I get scared. We encourage them to participate, but do we tell them that they may not succeed?

    • Bhagya, you have hit the nail on the head. Even I mull over the same thing. Remember how in our days, exams were tougher though we had less activities. But we were stronger. Today’s kids are just not able to handle pressures or taught to take failure in their strides. These reality shows dismay me where even adults grieve over a loss like someone has died. Grow up, I feel like saying. And, I am writing a post on children’s reality shows as well. Yes, we must encourage them to spread their wings but also teach them how to nurse their wounds when they fall.

  9. Very sad indeed!! Parents become over ambitious for their children. The children are so tender and delicate. They want to rise upto their perent’s expectations. When they fail to reach the height, they take this extreme step. It isunfortunate.

  10. these kinda things are happening from the moment p.v.narasimha rao brought economic reforms and IT took over indian academics.one of my friends was interested in medical science,he was forced to pursue maths and iit-jee by his parents.when he din’t clear jee,his family and neighbours used to call him loser.he died by consuming 200 sleeping pills and 6 bottles of poison.their neighbour’s kid used to work in ibm,usa.so his parents want him too to become like neighbour’s kid.faulty education system and lack of opportunities due to poor governance is making indian kids restless.

  11. That is such a heartbreaking story, Rachna, something which is sadly so close to reality.

    • I agree Deeps. Every time when results are announced, newspapers are filled with news of suicide. And that makes me really very sad! We have to teach our children to cope with failure. But first we must know how to guide them and support them, not to curse and overpressure them.

  12. Such a tragic end is not worth anything in the world… Very sad!

  13. Smita on June 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm said:

    And this is happening with scary frequency!!! I have no words to describe what is going on in my mind. I just wish I never become a parent like that the girls in ur story!

    • Smita, I understand what you are saying. I shudder to think similarly. I hope that my kids when they reach here will be better prepared for life’s battles.

  14. “We give life to our children. We don’t own them.”

    For me, this line sums it up. I wonder where it all goes wrong. Why do parents wish to fulfill their unfulfilled desires through their children? Unless parents stop seeing children as an extension of their own ego, this won’t stop. Such incidents are proof that education has nothing to do with being human and having common sense. Otherwise why would such accomplished parents push their poor kids to the brink of depression and suicide?

    Very well written.

    • Thank you DC! I seriously feel very angry when I see Tiger moms and dads around me. Why and how has it become normal to push kids into things because we could not achieve them is beyond me. And why are kids so fragile that they find it very hard to cope with life’s problems. Communication and support of parents is immensely important too.

  15. This is so sad. But very true. I know of cases like this. Always makes me wonder – what’s’ more important for a parent – your child’s happiness, or the status symbol of good results. We can always take a good thing too far. It’s great to help kids focus on their schoolwork, but to what extent?

    • Welcome to my blog, Kalpana. You have said it perfectly. It is okay to push your child to achieve. It is okay to aim for their multi-faceted development. But, it is not okay to take that behavior to extremes.

  16. Very sad. Last year one of my blogger friends mentioned somebody in her campus committed suicide on the night of the IIT JEE exam.

  17. I totally agree with you.Children are quite matured these days and they know what is best for them. It is not like olden days when there were not many options were to choose from. One must move with the times, and not be stuck and stagnate.
    This is the case with most children and most parents. It is really unfortunate.

    • Exactly Rama! Let them choose what they want to. Let them explore. There are so many satisfying and creative options available. Why stick to the stereotyped few and make their lives miserable?

  18. A sad story but it is a reality. And don’t know why people are giving over importance to marks and money. These marks are merely some numbers and money is just a piece of paper without any value, if there is no life. In my view, being a sportsperson, or artist, writer, scientist, designer etc is not at all inferior to a doctor or an engineer.
    How will the society look like if all people are doctors or engineers or management professionals!!
    Then what is the use of this rat race?

    After all, value of a life can’t be assessed by marks or salary. It is beyond that and is priceless.

    • All valid points, Abhinav! I feel similarly. Now that we are grown up, marks, qualifications etc. seem so trivial, definitely not worth giving one’s life over.

  19. This is so sad. My heart aches whenever I read such stories. Wish parents understand that.

    All the best for contest Rachna 🙂

  20. Tragic! Parents sometimes go overboard with expectations, but many other factors contribute in taking such drastic steps.

    • You are right, Giri; there are many factors. But if parents stand by kids, I think they will know how to handle failures and pressures.

  21. This is so sad and tragic. Parents trying to get their “unfinished business” or unfulfilled dreams achieved through their kids is a grim reality for some. These unrealistic goals and put immense pressure on the child. When the child has such huge expectations to fulfill, the fear of failure scares him/her and they resort to such actions.

    • Parents have become insanely possessed with ambitions that they want to live through their kids and they console themselves saying that they are doing it for their future.

  22. ‘only’ 92 per cent? My gosh! But yes, for some people even that is considered ‘only’. This is extreme.
    There’s so much pressure on students who are to take up board exams. I remember remember doing a news story on the suicides that happen around (10 std) results time ( some just before the results were eve out — because that pressure is unbearable). And the statistics were shocking.

  23. An exam is not worth snuffing your beautiful lives out for, kids. Sad story and a strong message, Rachana.

    • Thanks KayEm! Come to think of it, life is sacred. If only parents would realize that fact maybe their treatment of their own kids would get better.

  24. Times have changed.Parents have to realise that kids cant be forced into any area.
    Give them some space to avoid any unfortunate incident

  25. A poignant tale of undesirable parental pressure.
    Good Luck Rachna.

  26. You have summed it up excellently.

    Parental pressure is not only about fulfilling their own thwarted ambitions but also to keep ahead of their friend circle by making sure that their child scores highest marks so that they can proudly boast about their child’s achievements.It is pathetic.Are there no other values & accomplishments to be proud of?

    The worst part is that not only are suicides increasing but they are also being carried out by very young kids.

    • I was keen to hear your comment on this post, Indu! As you are much more knowledgeable in this area. Yes, the age of children committing suicide or unable to deal with life’s pressures is dismaying.

  27. Such a tragedy that we do this to our own children. And this starts early on too. People try to put their children in classes ahead of their ages, and then push them, completely ignoring the child. I wonder when as a society we would wisen up and understand that children when pushed too much, can reach a breaking point too.

  28. I know how much this kind of pressure affects those kids…unfortunately, at one time, I was that kid.

  29. That is very true , sometimes students also commits suicide just because they can’t perform to their parents expectations . That is not good

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