Monday, January 26, 2015

Ambitions come in different colours

This is the eighth in a series of articles dedicated to school-going kids, written for the GUYS AND GIRLS section in Ceylon Today.

I didn't stutter as a kid. Some of my friends did, though. They stuttered so hard that some of the others got annoyed. Some got used to them eventually, but the truth is that at that age, those who stuttered had to keep up with those who didn't. Inevitably, this meant practice, practice, practice.

This also meant spending hours and hours in the bathroom, shouting and reciting poetry. One of our teachers even advised them to go to the beach, one quiet evening, to try and shout over the crashing waves.

They did just that, and eventually, they lost their stutter. And when they did, they began pursuing what they liked. Finally. Yes, they are all happy for this.

Some of us like to speak. Others like to write. A few don't like either, but love to take to sports or any other extra activity. That's natural.

There are other preferences too. Some of us are good at reading (and speaking) in a particular language. Some of us may be exceptional enough to be fluent in several languages. Whatever the talent and whatever you are fluent in, you will win admiration. Once you take to a language, the flow comes naturally. That's when you begin to unravel the wonders of words, sentences, and writing and speaking. Even if you stutter.

I know someone who stuttered as a kid. His school recognised this defect early on, and while his teachers didn't really remove it, they gave him enough confidence to pursue his ambition: music. His grasp of both Sinhala and English, coupled with his outstanding knowledge of music in both languages, enabled him to win a scholarship abroad. When he returned, he began writing lyrics and even performing songs. Eventually, he won a place, and today, he is popular among those who dote on him.

Not all of us are blessed this way, unfortunately. Not all of us may be able to pursue what we want. That's life. Still, it's not all thorns and weeds. There is much to make of life and much to pursue. Ambitions come in different colours, and, as the saying goes, there are plenty of pebbles on the beach.

So we will all take to different streams. We may like reading or writing. We may like to play, idolising sports icons and trying to imitate them. But no matter what our ambitions and hobbies may be, we must realise one thing. We must never poke fun another for not liking what we do. After all, the world isn't flat, it goes around, and it contains much for us to indulge in and enjoy.

There was once a boy who couldn't write. He didn't like to study or read either. Try as he could, he found it difficult to do his homework. As time passed and as his teachers began scolding him, however, he began to teach himself. He learnt that while he couldn't read properly, he could pick out words and sentences easily. That enabled him to write too, and from 50-word essays he went to 200-word essays.

He also realised one thing. He understood what he was good at. Connecting wires, fixing radios and TVs, and assembling computers fascinated him. While he was only 10 years old, he began learning these things from his father, who was an expert in them. Soon enough, he learnt. Today, while he isn't exactly streets ahead of what he was a few months ago, he has balanced study and ambition like he never could. He is happy. As he should be.

That kid was just one among many, I admit. For some of us, the road is never easy. Fathers and mothers may scold us, rightly too, for not indulging in what they want us to indulge in. It takes time to convince them that what they think best fits us is not always what suits us.

But in the end, when you manage to make them realise how good you are at something, you will win them over. And when that happens, no matter what, you will realise that life isn't all about books and words, that there's a whole new world out there, and that the meaning of life isn't always to be learnt from what someone tells you.

Written for: Ceylon Today GUYS AND GIRLS, January 25 2015