Sunday, December 25, 2011

Failing Form 3 and the Rising of the Sun

Sometimes I reflect upon the hazards of passing examinations and the ill effects of passing well too. For instance, if I had failed my Form 3 examination, my parents would have been upset and then put Plan B into action for me. They would have sent me for typwriting classes and in those days tailoring classes, so that I could earn some money sewing some clothes for others.

I would have spent a couple of hours a day doing:

asdf ;lkj asdf ;lkj asdf ;lkj asdf ;lkj asdf ;lkj asdf ;lkj asdf ;lkj asdf ;lkj asdf ;lkj asdf ;lkj asdf ;lkj asdf ;lkj

(If you are wondering what the above mantra is, then it's Pitman's Lesson 1 for typewriting.)

With the Pitman's certificate and the experience of having sewn some housecoats or sari blouses in my resume, my parents would have started to pass the word around and tried to arrange a marriage for me.

The best part of failing Form 3 would be me setting my own timetable. I would have risen with the sun and prepared breakfast for my husband and children and sent them all off, out of the house. The rest of the day would have been mine to do as I wished until the children came home for lunch, and he came back in the evening for some tea and vadai perhaps. Then I would have watered the plants, chatted with the neighbours, watched the children play, warmed up the left overs from lunch and served dinner.

As for Geography, I would have believed sincerely that the sun rose and set on my husband's head and not out there somewhere in the east and set in the west also somewhere out there.

As for the Mathematics of it all, I would not need any geometry, simultaneous equations or calculus to work out or calculate how to spend my husband's money each month, after all I would be sewing my own sari blouses, and saving some money for the family!

As for history, with the neighbourhood wives as my close allies, I would have become an expert in local history:
  • who has run away with who (Parameswara was the not only one to run away after a fight with his father-in-law!)
  • who has lice in her hair (never mind about the lies surrounding IMF or World Bank!)
  • who has more cows or goats (never heard of Sharizat let alone her husband!)
  • men acting like the Godfather of the low cost housing estate (Ramasamy is a common enough name)
  • I would hear the call for prayers and enter my home modestly to light the lamp, dot my forehead with holy ash, forget my practical history sessions, and wait for the sun to set.
I never needed the Science lessons to text the latest gossip, use the DVD player and watch the latest movies. Nobody would have convinced me to buy a DVD for RM30 when I could get it for RM 3, I would not have been that stupid.

My place would have always been the front passenger seat. I would have looked at my husband with a sense of wonder and pride. I would not dream of getting into the driver's seat of the car, that belonged solely to my husband, all other driver's seats belonged to me!

But I passed my Form 3 and my Form 5 and my Form 6 and my University and today I sit here and wonder if I am any cleverer for having passed.
Is my life any pleasanter for reading about graft and crime, arguing about the unfairness of the war in Iraq, for having my letter published in the London Times stating my views on the war? Would my soul have been calmer if I only had to worry if Rajnikanth is bald or not bald?

My husband would have been happier for sure if I believed that the sun rose and set on his head. Well it does for me metaphorically speaking, but .... I wonder if I should have been clever enough not to have passed the Form 3 examination.

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