Articles

Am I a cola can?

Last night, I dreamt that I was raped and murdered. It didn’t just end there, I was a ghost. That was the most disturbing nightmare I ever had.

Dreams and nightmares are the mind’s way of conveying something to us. While I was reading about the interpretation of dreams, I came across this: Dreams can be interpreted in two ways. In the subconscious state, our mind either poses unlikely situations and mentally prepares us to face those challenges or tries to warn us about a potential threat.

I have interpreted mine.

What’s disturbing is not the dream but what it means. I do not know the word for “Penetration perpetrated against a person’s mind without their consent” but let’s just call it Cognitive-rape, for now. Most educational institutions in India are not educating but engaging in mass deception. They do not educate students, but merely build them with career-oriented training, program them to function efficiently and make sure they graduate, ready to be sold. If you look closely, this process has an uncanny resemblance to the cola manufacturing industry. There is a huge container of carbonated water to which the essence (social constructions) is added and later poured into empty cans (minds of students) and sealed with the brand logo (Institutions) which are then sold in markets. And sadly, most parents are happy with the formula too. What I do not understand is: How can there possibly be a universal mode of evaluation for millions of autonomous minds?

CCE-Coca-Cola-line

“You need to excel in academics, like your cousin.”
(You need to be sweeter, like Pepsi.)

“What is the class topper’s CGPA?”
(What’s the price of the other cola? It’ll taste better if it’s expensive.)

“Our neighbor’s son is going abroad to do his Phd, in Mary had a little lamb university! Don’t you want to go abroad?”
(Coca-cola has got a market at Hogwarts! Don’t you want to be sold there too?)

In a lecture that I once attended, the speaker spoke about how educational institutions and homes are spaces that are supposed to make students confident and not instill fear by slapping stereotypes against them based on their identities and choices. Parents and teachers should guide us in molding ourselves instead of molding us into their idea of what students should be. But what they do is, they set unreasonable standards for students and make them feel insecure and claustrophobic. They traumatize the students by convincing them that the world doesn’t need them if they don’t fit into the institutionalized idea of who a successful student is.

I am torn between who I am and who I should be and I belong neither here nor there. My mother often gets frustrated as she has to juggle between home and work. She has to cook, house-keep, assist in academics and go to work, all at the same time. She thinks it’s unfair. But she expected me to excel in Science, Math, Economics, Commerce, Social Science and three languages, back in school.  Parents take the liberty to dream on behalf of their kids but they fail to ask them about theirs. They think making short films, hanging out with friends, drawing or going to the movie-theatre is a waste of time. (But of course, my sister can sketch as much as she pleases because she’s an architecture student and technically she’s preparing herself to be sold.) Art, I believe is a powerful form of ideological expression. It can be used as a tool for dissent. Art is my way of letting out my bottled up emotions, art is my way of connecting with the world. While you think I’m wasting my time with my friends, I am making memories; memories that I will cherish in my deathbed. I am strengthening my bond with people; people, who would jump off a boat to save me. Learning is not done in the confines of a classroom with a chalk and a blackboard; we learn when sky is the only limit. Please don’t teach me to follow blindly (Listen to your parents; we know what’s best for you!) I may end up doing so my entire life; losing myself in the process. Encourage me to think rationally and make my own decisions, respect me when I stand up for what I believe in, let me make mistakes; I will learn from them.

Let me be ME.
Because…
I do not want to be a cola can.

 

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