English Special

My life took a different turn that night

Not knowing I was standing just behind the door, I could hear her sniffling.

Tears were welling up in my eyes. I wanted to run to her, but I couldn’t dare to show her my swollen eyes be seen.
It was a thunderous, monsoon night of 1995.

The result of the last engineering exam had just been announced. And I had not made it.
After a year of dropping school and appearing for three competitive exams, I failed in all three.
To say that I was surprised at the result would not be the truth. I knew that I had not done well.
It was not my failure that had brought me to tears. It was also not any fear and insecurity about the future.
It was my disappointment with myself for letting down my mother.

She had sacrificed her career, suffered abuse from my mentally sick and worked three jobs to get me the best available education.
How that night was a turning point in my life is something I would only discover later. But at that moment, I was at the lowest point.

Suddenly, She switched on the light. Having heard me suffering silently behind the door, she hugged me.
Being a sensitive person, she felt it was more urgent to console me than worry about her own pain.

In a frantic attempt to cheer me up, she started telling me all the great career options that still were possible. She spoke of how her Boss, an IAS officer, had many contacts. She was back to being Super Mom.
But at that moment, none of that mattered. I had failed.

Over the next few weeks, every time I would see her handle my sick father or return home after a long day at work, I felt how all that she had done was for nothing. We were back to zero.

I often would ruminate over killing myself, but the thought of how much pain it will cause my mother kept me from seriously considering it. I just could not be that selfish.

What had happened on that thundery night was the net effect of many years of failing to do well at studies.
I was an obedient and hardworking student. But never made it beyond the lower seventies in my exam results. I found some

subjects difficult and would avoid them. Without the gritty determination that I had, perhaps even those marks would not have happened.

It took me years to discover that nobody had ever taught me HOW to learn, even though I was studying in the best school with the most excellent tutors.

My life took a different turn that night. I was no longer going to be on a guaranteed career path like engineering or medicine. Something else would have to be done.

As fate would have it, I discovered what I missed in my ways to study and eventually got on the fast learning track.
In the next decade and a half, I learnt to speak and write English. I completed my masters in business and a PhD in Psychology. While I started my business and eventually grew it to 42 countries, I also was invited as guest faculty at several European schools. I also wrote a best-selling book and worked with some of the world’s top business people and authors.
If anyone had told me on that night that I was good for nothing, I would have believed the person.

But luckily for me, my Mom had unconditional love. I was too valuable to be given up on. If, despite the incredible hardships, she would not give up on me, what right did I have?
Very often, kids are labelled “stupid”, good for nothing or lazy.
I could have had the exact same label.

Next time your child does poorly in an exam, Remember! Perhaps all that they need is a little bit of love and some help on how to study.

If you are reading this as a parent, I want you to know that I understand your frustrations. I have spoken to thousands of parents. I know how challenging life can be and how much you want your child to do better. And their lack of results worries you.
But before you give up hope, please understand that your child has a brilliant brain. They have learnt to speak, write, use equipment and several other things. The intelligence is there in them. What May be missing are the proper practices to learn. Once they have those, they will do really well in life.

My mother perhaps does not remember that night as vividly as I do. Maybe it is because for her, no matter my accomplishments, I am the same child that she loves unconditionally.

Thank you for reading my story. I hope you will have greater compassion and understanding for your child. And have some of that compassion for yourself too.

Ninad Sharma
Better Mind Institute

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