The spotlight was on me. I was trembling inside. It had nothing to do with butterflies in my stomach. I knew I was very good at what I did. I knew I could do this even in my sleep. But the exhaustion was almost killing me.

I glanced at my mother and father sitting at a distance. I saw nervous excitement in their eyes. My eyes swept past the crowd of people. They did not even register. Today was THE day!

“I don’t want to go, mom!” I said

“How can you say that? You know you have waited for this day for so long? We have worked so hard for it. And you are willing to throw it away?” her mom ranted.

She saw her mother’s famous temper surfacing. She knew what was next. But today she was in no mood to acquiesce.

“Not me, YOU! It is you who has always pushed me since the time when I didn’t even know what I wanted. I am but a puppet in your hands. You don’t care about my happiness. It is always about what you want! I hate you and dad for being pushy monsters. I want you to know that today.”

Slap! My mom’s hand hit the side of my face. She hit me twice more and dissolved into tears. Her phony tears made me hate her even more. She was about to lapse into her Nirupa Roy routine of name calling and emotional blackmail, all basically conveying that I was ungrateful  and undeserving of her affection and all her efforts into honing my skills.

“You can beat me. But you can’t shut me up. I know exactly what or why you did what you did. You were a failure yourself and now you want me to compensate for that with success.”

Dad had walked in by now. They knew how to play the ‘bad cop good cop’ routine to perfection. He threw an admonishing look at my mom and came to me.

“You can’t talk to your mother like this. She has sacrificed so much for you. We both have.  It’s your big day today — the Grand Finale! Just work on that. We will talk about this later,” he said.

I nodded.  “I have the perfect revenge planned for you,” I thought.

I threw venomous looks in their directions, as I put my make up on for my performance. I was a trained classical singer. People called me a child prodigy with my silken voice and understanding of nuances of music.

I was all of 10 years old, but I felt at least two decades older. For as long back as I remembered, it had all been about music classes day in and day out.  I started when I was 3. My mom lugged me to classes and back. I could never do anything like normal kids. I could not even enjoy silly childhood treats like ice creams.

I remember always being tired. Did anyone ask me what I wanted? This voice is a curse. I hate my success. I hate all these people. I hate my parents! I want to be a normal 10-year-old girl worrying about dresses and dolls instead of grueling classes and riyaz sessions. These days I missed my school. My studies have taken a hit, as I am now carted for stage shows and performances one after another. I will never ever have the education I wanted. I am trapped. I am a prisoner of this society that only sees my talent and glosses over the little girl in the bargain.

My thoughts were interrupted with loud cheers and clapping. I came out of my reverie. I was back on stage, done with my performance which was a winner yet again. My doting parents were by my side hugging me, meticulous in front of the cameras.

I had the evil pleasure of knowing that this was for the very last time.

Inside, I was shedding bitter tears for a childhood lost. If only life had panned out differently, and I did not have to end it this way. That was my last thought, as I collapsed.


Finally I was at peace!



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119 Thoughts on “A failed life!

  1. Oh my goodness, what a strong post Rachna. A very sad tale indeed.
    I simply cannot tolerate parents such as this! They think giving birth, education and mainly telling what they want their children to do is a huge sacrifice they make. They try to find success in their children’s success. It is sad that such parents cannot understand their child is another human being with its own thoughts and dreams.

    • Perhaps in their mind’s eyes, they think that they are doing it for their child’s best interests. I just wish that they could ever climb down from their high horse and really invest in finding out what the child wants. Perhaps, a motivated and cared-for child would be able to attain even greater heights. Sad, really!

  2. Tragic but honestly it is utterly possible. In the reality show culture of our world today where programs like toddlers and tiaras are being made this scene is a complete possibility. Great post Rachna!

    • Thanks you, Swapna. It is these horrid reality shows that have inspired this post. I wonder how many tears are hidden behind the shiny faces we see and applaud.

  3. Very poignant narrative with relevant message. Children should be allowed to be who they want to be instead of satisfying parents dreams.

  4. What happened next? What did the child decide to get to peace, Rachna?

  5. If this is your personal story, I’m sorry things went this way. It’s great that you let it out, and I hope that you as a parent now do things differently. I can tell the same story, only the activities would be different – I wanted to sing and play instruments, but I had to focus on math instead. But think about this – perhaps our parents did what they did as a way of fixing their parent’s parenting mistakes. And if we feel compelled to fix their mistakes, we might be in the wrong again. I simply wished my parents were visionary thinkers and had thought me ways to blend what I liked doing with what they thought is good to do, just my 2 cents. I enjoy your emotional blogs more than your content writing 🙂

    • This is not my personal story at all but inspired by the crazy ambition of parents of my generation. It is fictional. My own parents were completely detached and allowed me to pursue my own dreams. I do the same with my own kids but with a little more involvement. This is just written in a child’s voice as I imagine her pain at being failed by her parents. Thank you for reading and appreciating and for sharing your own views. I like writing the emotional blogs as well but then I can’t do that for professional writing, can I? 🙂

  6. Oh God, this is a very sad tale of a child whose ambitions were crushed by her own parents.Cant even imagine such torturous action of the parents.

  7. How many kids will be going through this torment day in and day out, unable to speak out. But, I believe our parents of our generation are a lot more accepting and understanding, compared to our parents. But there are a lot who still need to improve.

    Sad story, narrated really beautifully.

    • Thank you, Rekha. I feel today’s parents are more obsessive and driven. Our parents seemed more chilled out. These days there is an obsessiveness to get your child to do everything, push hard and harder so that they can be some sort of superstars.

  8. Sad story but quite pertinent in today’s scenario where you see 2-3 year olds attending numerous classes. And there is so much peer pressure on other parents who do not want to follow the suit and end up questioning themselves a lot. There is a constant struggle of not wanting your kids to be left behind and still wanting them to enjoy what they really enjoy.I am so glad you wrote this. It helped in clearing my mind a lot. Thanks 🙂

    • I completely understand what you are saying, Sfurti! I felt like a freak too among peers who spend all their time in carting their kids from one class to another while I let them go out and play with friends. Why do I need tuitions when I am around to help them? I am glad the post helped you :). Thanks for reading!

  9. 🙁 such a sad tale!! Very well narrated!

  10. How terrible it must be for the child to take this step! It is true there are parents who put so much pressure on their lil kids to excel and perform from such a young age!

  11. I think about this a lot when I see reality shows too. My daughter has a beautiful voice. I sometime feel guilty for not pushing her to sing more. She decides when and where she wants to sing. And I am ok with it even though everyone thinks I am a lazy mom.

  12. Reality shows on TV and the 2-minutes spotlight pushes parents to make show ponies of their children. It makes sense only if the children are for it. Still, too much pressure can be bad for children. Discipline and practice is a must for any art/sports/skills, pressure to win takes away half the fun of it all.

    • Aptly put, CW! You are absolutely right. Discipline and loads of practice is needed to master any form. And if the child is getting burnt out in the bargain, it is totally not worth it!

  13. The fault lies in having expectations that are unrealistic and at times not even in consonance with the abilities of the children!

  14. There speaks a mother who is no less than a dream. Your kids are in good hands! 🙂

  15. It is unfortunate that parents put so much of pressure on their kids. If a person doesn’t like something then sooner or later he/she will give up. Parents should encourage their children to pursue their hobby. However, if they become pushy then at some stage the kid is going to give up.

    The fire has to burn within the kid. One of my favourite cricketers was Vinod Kambli. It is said that whenever he failed to score runs, his mother used to stop talking with him. When Kambli broke into the test and one day level, he wanted to enjoy the good things of life and got derailed. He had loads of talent. In sharp contrast Sachin Tendulkar, was encouraged at home. So he honed his craft and the rest is history.

    • Thank you for your insightful comment as always, Sabyasachi! Yes, the kids will either drop it when they have enough say or will resentfully continue to be pressured till they get burnt out. Channelizing your children’s energies and passions is good, but pressuring them and ignoring their own feelings is criminal.

  16. Uuffffff.Terrible.Dont we all wonder ,how cruel the parents could have been?How did the child feel?
    Is there a msg for us…..the parents……in this?
    Will we ever do this or have been doing this to our children?

    • Chowlaji look at the number of reality shows for children. Consider the amount of practice and pressures they have to undergo at such tender ages in the name of honing talent. It is sickening. It is happening a lot these days.

  17. What a sad post, Rachna! I had always thought that being a child prodigy, child artiste whatever must be a horror for the child and this post brings that out most poignantly.

    • Just like you, I’ve also often wondered about these sterling kids, their difficulties and pressures, their lost childhoods, the tears behind the smiles :(.

  18. Some time back, I had shared a video of Bharati performing in Comedy Circus that very much highlighted this issue. At the end of the act, I was in tears. Sad…I too know someone who is close to our family who is pushy with their kids. Kids interrupted.

    Nice post as ever.

  19. I have seen some kids like that. Their accomplishments came with a heavy price. Sigh!

  20. sad and a poignant tale. very well narrated..

  21. You know I have pondered upon the same issue so many times .. It’s really sad when children are pushed towards something which perhaps they don’t even want…

  22. Watching so many reality shows where kids don’t behave their age makes me so uncomfortable. Kids are losing their innocence and parents are pushing them. What a poignant and relevant way to express your pain Rachna. Beautiful.

    • Alka, you have hit the nail on the head. Exactly, I feel great unease in seeing the kids act older for their age even staging tears and emotions to score brownie points. And their crazy parents crying at the drop of a hat! What a looney society this has become? Every gali ka contest is all about competition and one upmanship. No one cares for the pleasure of participation and for applauding another and accepting defeat. Imagine how they would face the world when they grow up? As a matter of principle, I’ve stopped watching all reality shows featuring kids. They make me feel sick. Thanks for connecting with the post.

  23. It is so sad to watch kids having to dance to their parents’ tune and deal with all their emotional baggage. Very effectively captured, Rachna!

  24. Happens at many places…sad but true..without our knowledge, at some point or the other many of us try to see our dreams come true in the form of our kids.

  25. This post brings so many things to my mind, Rachna. It reminds me of RK Narayan’s touching short story, Selvi; of Vikram Seth’s “Frog and the nightingale”, it reminds me of all the stupid reality shows on TV where kids start crying on stage, where parents sit bawling in the audience when a hint of a poor comment is passed by the judges. And also of parents who try to satisfy their ego through their hapless kids. And finally, kids who behave like adults which is a very, very disturbing sight. Lost innocence and what not. I hope better sense prevails. Amen.

    A very strong post. 🙂

    • Thank you, DC! So eloquently you have mentioned every single situation that bothers me about how today’s parents really are going wrong in so many ways. Thanks for reading, as always!

  26. This was so poignant and sad, Rachna. I hope many ambitious parents get to read this post. I have read that many actresses also felt the same because their parents pushed them to act for the income it brought. Many famous yesteryear actresses regret their profession.

    Joy always,

  27. Its very sad but true ! Perfectly articulated Rachna.

  28. So tragic and yet something which is happening all around us. Parents pushing their children to the limit, forgetting the real needs of childhood. This reminds me of those little made-up kids singing and dancing to movie songs and parents proudly proclaiming that he/she has been training since age 3 or 4. In fact, someone I know stopped talking to his son for many days because he got 89% and not 90+% as he had expected. What difference this 1% will make in real life, I fail to understand.

    • Exactly Priya! They say it with such pride as if it is a trophy to be showed off. And the herd mentality that chases each mark, each percentage point is sickening.

  29. blogwatig on September 6, 2013 at 9:35 am said:

    I know of so many such kinds, Rachna. I want to shake them up so bad. This story reminded me of the girl who topped the SSC exams in my batch. She scored 89% back then. I always came second place in English Elocution, coz she held on to the first. A few years later, she committed suicide…………….


    • On Gosh, that is so, so sad, Vinita! It breaks my heart. What can be more important than your child’s life and happiness? Just like you, I feel like shaking them and telling them to get a reality check.

  30. It is sad about how parents push the kids to do all this.Especially when I see reality shows like the Indian idol and the parents weeping, I realise the kind of trauma the kids must be going through for being eliminated. I could never do that to my kids.

    • It gets my goat too, Pratibha, these reality shows. Why have them at all for kids? Why subject them to intense drama and pressures at such a young age? Thankfully, you and I are not in the race of churning out geniuses.

  31. ummmm…ok, sorry Rachna…but, I got kinda confused at the end when the kid collapsed. what was that??? i mean did she get pills or something???

    just a question on another line – has this piece been inspired by some real life incident or just a work of your imagination. i read some of the other comments which say this is relate-able but just asking your source.

    also, many congratulations for winning the IB awards 🙂 its so difficult to write on relationships. I got this link from the wbn group.

    • Hi Swati! Welcome here. Yes, she had planned a revenge on her parents by taking her own life. She kept hinting about it all through. Yes, she had taken an overdose of pills. It is a fiction piece not inspired by any real life incident. But I am sure we can relate to such kids and their traumas.
      Thanks for your wishes, Swati :). Relationships are of great interest to me, and I love exploring their nuances in my posts.

  32. But why would she kill herself! She was courageous enough to stand up to her parents.

    Gripping story, Rachna. Had me glued till the end.

    • Thank you, Purba! Her conviction to take her life and a deep-seated urge to get back at them gave her the spurt of courage! She was too broken and devoid of support to think logically :(.

  33. Heart touching story Rachna, you captured it so effectively. I really hate those reality shows where parents, their kids and all the judges are all part of a drama. It’s happening all around us in one form or another, post like this can spread some knowledge so I’m sharing it 🙂

  34. Brilliant piece of fiction …very apt topic !

  35. Dear Rachna,

    This post brought tears in my eyes. It’s sad when such parents can not see beyond ‘commercializing’ their precious kids’ talents, and ignore the human being, the child waiting to fly, the compassionate person the child is trying to become, just because they “think” that xyz is right for them.

    When we do that, we are basically taking away their most basic right to breathe free.


    • You said it perfectly, A Walk into the Woods! How can parents do this and to their own flesh and blood? How blind can they be in their lust for fame and money through their children?

  36. Spot on, Rachna and sadly so. Yes, it looks like the moms are living out their dreams at the cost of their children’s happiness. A friend of mine had her 7 year old girl star in a movie – the movie was a hit beyond their wildest imagination, getting the girl an award. When the next movie offer came along, Mom was ready to say yes, but the daughter refused. Thankfully, better sense prevailed and she was not pushed into doing it anyway.
    PS: Don’t worry about being unpopular about speaking your mind.If even one Mom makes a choice based on this post, you’ve done the world a huge service.

  37. HI Rachna,

    Loved the article… Specially becoz am going through a similar turmoil with my 4 year old. He used to love going to gymnastics but now hates doing it… So instead of 3 days a week i take him for 2… but time and again, there is a question that if he does not enjoy , dan why am i forcing? another voice in me says, that he is a kid if from this age he feels that it’s okay to quit, than what in future…

    So far have answers to these questions… and hoping to find them sooner than later…

    • Hi Jainee, Thanks for your visit and for reading. You know, my elder son when he was 5ish expressed a desire to learn keyboard. I put him in the classes. But 3 months later, he specifically said that he did not want to go. He said he was just not interested and I took him out. I think more than quitting it is about interest. Why should we force them into stuff they don’t want them to do? After all childhood is the time for them to explore, read, play with friends and enjoy life. The tougher challenges of life await them when they will be older. I truly believe that a child may discover a passion and then you and I will not be able to stop their enthusiasm. But make them do something they dislike is sheer punishment to little ones.

  38. Read your sad post and it made me think but, it was sad It is so difficult to find the right path when it comes to your child’s gifts. You sure do want to encourage them to put their best feet forward and yet not goad them into doing things which will make them hate that “best foot”!

    • You have said it beautifully, Poornima. Parenting is all about balance. And trust me, they will find their true love. I discovered writing after having both my kids :). Your child and mine will grab their passion any which way. As it is, they get a lot of exposure even in schools.

  39. phoenixritu on September 6, 2013 at 12:48 pm said:

    There are other ways of taking revenge, like self sabotage, I know. Or getting stubborn. Parents sometimes cross boundaries …

    • Yes, there are other ways, Ritu. But it depends upon their control over the child and the child’s own fragility to take confident action. Parents these days are crossing the line way too often perhaps even without realizing.

  40. This is such a sad post ! I know some times parents really use kids as puppets. M not sure abt north India but here mostly its like Doctor or IT and it is all as parents havent fulfilled their dreams . (most of them do it) . I know a guy who forcibly finished MBBS and then successfully came out of it by appearing for civil exams and doing wat he wants too , but I know NOT ALL HAVE that courage 🙁

    • I don’t know Afshan if it is a regional thing because I see almost all parents being obsessed with making their kids “all rounders” and overdoing it. And God help those kids who display “talent.” Good for the guy whose story you shared. Either it is the crazy academic pressure or the forcing down the throat of classes. Either way kids have it so hard :(.

  41. Unfortunately that is the truth that parents these days push their kids so hard to excel at everything that they forget how much stress they put on their child. Really poignant post Rachna….the ending was gut wrenching 🙁

    • It’s so sad, Vinita. I see this mad urge to make their kids better than the neighbors and some sort of geniuses that they can sport as trophies that is driving so many parents to a frenzied craze. It makes me mad, real mad! I felt very sad penning this post.

  42. Wonderfully written Rachna. A sad truth brought out beautifully.

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  44. Parents sometimes forget that the child is not a truck where they can load their dreams.
    I don’t know why but I have this feeling that the reality shows in the last ten years have fuelled the ambitions of parents even more. Everyone wants their children to be rich and earn money by the time they are 10.

    • Yes, these reality shows are fueling the fire. It has become a vicious cycle now and kids are paying the price. They are not even able to understand what they are missing out on sadly :(.

  45. Oh dear…tragic! Every time you see the crumpled faces of losing contestants on these talent shows for children, you really, really wonder what goes on in their minds. Many weep as they are led away. I don’t know if these are tears are of personal anguish of losing or for the words and worse that awaits them at home.

    Very strong storytelling. And you don’t write more fiction because….?

    • I have wondered that many times as well. And it is heart wrenching reading how unhappy some of our heroines were forced as they were to become child stars. Thank you for reading. To answer your question, no reason really :).

  46. And here I am coming from Mars.:)
    I had read this post but did not know how and what to comment.
    When I see these reality shows I wonder what the kids are facing. I agree some are child prodigies but is it necessary to push them. I mean a child who starts singing at a young age, her vocal chords may get strained.
    And can they handle pressure?
    Facing the limelight so early in life will they be able to handle a ‘normal’ life later on that is if they don’t succeed in ‘that’ path
    I could go on and on but let me stop at that.

    • My dear Martian :), you make some very valid observations. I can see that a lot of people are dismayed by reality shows including me. I have stopped watching those featuring children for the very reasons that you’ve mentioned. It seems like their talents become curses for some kids.

  47. Sigh. There is too much truth within that post. When I see these reality shows with kids doing amazing dances and songs and even cookery now, I do admire their talent but I do wonder at what cost all this is happening.
    How many 5 years olds truly know that they want to be superstars… is it not merely the parents forcing their dreams upon the child?

    • Indeed there is, Roshan! You know I still have not initiated my 11-year-old into cutting or chopping with knives. And these younger kids are already doing full-fledged cooking? Exactly, my question, what do these tiny tots know about what they want to do? They are just pushed into doing something and there are a whole lot of behavioural issues that stem as a result of this. Parents are totally losing it.

  48. I never liked the concept of reality shows featuring kids. Never watched them too. I always felt sorry for all those kids dancing, singing, now even making food as they are missing out so much fun burdened by so much expectations.

    I remember myself going for piano, or dance or art classes. Damn that was tiring. Glad my parents realized soon that I was never an artist 😛

    lovely space you have 🙂

    • Glad that your parents took that step and soon enough. I am seriously in favor of having a ban on these kiddie reality shows. Thanks you for visiting, Jyoti! A pleasure having you here.

  49. Oh my God .. What a climax it was
    Wonderfully written

  50. Team BlogAdda on September 10, 2013 at 10:04 am said:

    This post has been selected for the Spicy Saturday Picks this week. Thank You for an amazing post! Cheers! Keep Blogging 🙂

  51. Hi Rachna

    Strong message there. I have heard so many parents talking about their children realizing their dreams thus forgetting about the small small dreams lodged in the tiny minds.

  52. WOW! What a post, Rachna! *Applause*. You conveyed such a hard hitting message with that poignant post of yours!

    I wish those pushy parents would realize how unfair they are being to their li’l ones with their unjust expectations.

  53. Wow! That was something. Unfortunately there are parents like this. … who just keep pushing their kids believing that it’s for their bright future. … but completely failing.

  54. Gifted by Nikita Lalwani is a book which touches the similar theme. A must read book it is.

    And loved the way you have narrated this story. It is the story of many a households. In fact my heart goes out for kids who participate in many reality shows. I remember watching one where a kid had fallen down and had fractured his foot. The doc had told him to take bedrest if he wanted to avoid a lifetime ka issue but here he was at the stage to dance. And his parents wcouldn’t help gushing at his himmat! Even the judges (one of them was a mother herself) applauded him.

    My blood boils when I even think about it.

  55. Woah! I had to scroll really down to get to here! Fantastic post Rachna! Enough to make parents of all age groups do some serious thinking.

  56. Ha ha …. had a good laugh at the “bad cop good cop routine”

  57. I got goosebumps reading this post Rachna ..

  58. Loved this post Rachna ! You have brought out a very important aspect of the curse of child prodigies. I have always felt it is better to be average as it enables one to be happier than a super achiever.
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