Skip to main content

Don’t be yourself

I have a student in one of my present classes who gives me the creeps. He holds everyone in contempt and thinks that he is the only perfect human being. He has a magnanimous attitude towards his mother, I observed, whom he resembles way too much and who thinks that her son is nothing less than an adorable prince. Let me call him Holden after the protagonist of J D Salinger’s celebrated novel about an adolescent’s inability to grow up.

Holden – mine and not Salinger’s – lives in his own world even if he is in the classroom not even pretending to be listening to the teacher. He dreams keeping his eyes open when he is not really sleeping. I have always wondered what he could be dreaming about. It took me a while to realise that all his dreams are about himself because nothing engages his mind except himself wherever he is.

Holden thinks that all other people are nothing more than insects beside his eminence. He misses no opportunity to sneer at people, their appearance, views, anything. Nobody and nothing comes up to Holden’s expectations. If he is awake in the class, the teacher can expect some snide comments from him made privately of course. If you ask him what he said to his companion, he will just shrug his shoulders insolently.

A few months back, I told Holden that we could perform a miracle together if he descended from his royal perch. I told him that a miracle is nothing but a change of attitude. Just change the way you look at the world and yourself, and the miracle will happen. You will begin to love the world. And yourself too. Holden gave me his usual derisive smile.

I didn’t give up, however. Holden holds a sway over me merely because he reminds me of my own adolescence. I had problems with myself as well as other people though I didn’t express my contempt as openly as Holden does. I wanted to save Holden from himself just as much as I wished there were such a redeemer for me in my adolescence. I am redeeming myself vicariously now by trying to redeem Holden.

“One of the things about growing up is that it is painful,” says Jerry Pinto in connection with the release of his new novel The Education of Yuri. “It’s really painful. And in our nostalgia for youth, we forget the pain, we forget how much we were hurt and how much we hurt other people also.”

Holden hurts me but not as much as I hurt him. I accept Holden’s hurts with a self-conscious awareness that comes from learning and experience. I let Holden be hurt assuming that it does him some good – sooner rather than later. I do believe in miracles.

Holden is the kind of people who shouldn’t be themselves. Try being somebody else for a change, I tell him. Looking back, I know I’d have done much better being somebody else for a change.

PS. This was provoked by Indispire’s new prompt: dedicate a post to the wonderful weirdo in your life. #wonderfulweirdo


  1. Holden will change when he grows up, when he is no longer a student, when he has to work for a living.

    1. Yes, I too think so. He's lucky to have very supportive and fairly affluent parents.

  2. Hari OM...
    ...or, he may just grow up to be one of the world's narcissistic politicians... YAM xx

    1. He has strong political affiliation, more because his father uses a particular party for business progress. I hope he learns something better than narcissism.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Advani and Modi

Cartoon from Deepika This morning's Malayalam newspaper, Deepika, delighted readers with the above cartoon on the front page. Modi is portrayed as Bhima in quest of the Sougandhika flower.  He encounters Hanuman on the way and is unable to meet the challenge posed by Hanuman.  Finally Bhima will understand the real power of his interceptor and seek his blessings. Fabulous cartoon, I mused.  It depicts the present situation tersely.  And there's a deep irony too in it. Neither Modi nor Advani is worthy of any comparison with the epic characters.  Both have acted from selfish motives thus far and continue to do so. But the nature of the Kurukshetra has changed too today.  Today our heroes are no better than these characters.   

The Ugly Duckling

Source: Acting Company A. A. Milne’s one-act play, The Ugly Duckling , acquired a classical status because of the hearty humour used to present a profound theme. The King and the Queen are worried because their daughter Camilla is too ugly to get a suitor. In spite of all the devious strategies employed by the King and his Chancellor, the princess remained unmarried. Camilla was blessed with a unique beauty by her two godmothers but no one could see any beauty in her physical appearance. She has an exquisitely beautiful character. What use is character? The King asks. The play is an answer to that question. Character plays the most crucial role in our moral science books and traditional rhetoric, religious scriptures and homilies. When it comes to practical life, we look for other things such as wealth, social rank, physical looks, and so on. As the King says in this play, “If a girl is beautiful, it is easy to assume that she has, tucked away inside her, an equally beauti

Reading Comprehension for Senior Students

 Let me present the reading comprehension test I gave to my 12th graders recently.  1.        Read the passage and answer the questions that follow .                      1x10 = 10 1.     On 1 Oct, India launched 5G services. It was a low-key affair even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi was launching it. Natural, perhaps, since it came after 70-odd countries had deployed it in close to 2000 cities since 2019 when South Korea kicked off the new era of connectivity. 2.     Attempts to get 5G going in India have been botched by muddled policies. The biggest bottleneck was the high reserve prices for airwave sales. The 700-megahertz band, which is needed for 5G technology, was priced so high that it did not receive any bids in the March auction and even in the recent auction, only one company, market leader Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, has been able to cough up the asking price despite a scaling down of rates by the government. Telecom companies are bleeding after the cutthroat tar

To a friend

Vincent van Gogh - self-portrait of a man who suffered much This post is dedicated to a person who was very dear to me for quite some time. We were good friends. But certain situations affected that friendship adversely. Years later, he contacted me recently. There is a lot of frustration, anger, sadness and rebellion in his psyche, as I sense it. Dear Friend, Your present situation grieves me as much as it worries me. I knew you as a benevolent individual who went out of his way to help friends. I received much help from you for many years. You were an inspiration for me in more ways than you might have ever imagined. What happened to our friendship was inevitable to some extent because I was passing through a painful phase of personality deterioration and your efforts to assist turned out to be counterproductive. It was not your fault at all. You meant well, I know. I knew it at that time too but my psychological condition made it impossible for me to continue our friendship. I n