Why I Chose To Study Literature After School
Written by Koyel Dasgupta
I was never an ordinary or an average student but consistently a good and meritorious one who was always emboldened and loved by the teachers and adored by the classmates. My knowledge in English was extolled by my teachers but I was always interested to pursue my career in any branch of Science which most of the conventionally best students in this country hope for.
When I passed my Class X exams under the C.B.S.E., we were not marked by numbers or percentages but by grades and the CGPA where CGPA 10 was the highest grade. Now guess what- I was born to win a CGPA 10 grade and to think about pursuing my higher studies in Humanities was no less than preposterous.
Most of my teachers would have deprecated if I decided to not choose the Science stream. What followed is a period of two years filled with despondency, morose, pessimism and consternation. I was shattered and disconcerted witnessing my results- someone who used to score the highest marks struggled to score the passing marks and this demoralized me as I couldn’t bear or accept this atrocity.
I started hating the subjects, all of them right from Physics to Mathematics, Chemistry to Biology- they were equally abhorring and Mathematics and Physics were vicious. Perhaps, my lack of affection for them even made the subjects detest me and we don’t even prefer to be acquaintances today.
Only English held my hand then although I still didn’t value it the way it deserved to be. Its my mother who constantly invigorated and enlivened me throughout the period and finally my Class XII Board Exams were over and eventually results were published. I scored a good percentage, so much so that if I had chosen to pursue a career in the Science subjects be it in Biology or Chemistry (Physics and Mathematics I would not have chosen for sure) I could have done that or I could have also structured a career in Engineering. My parents even advised me to devote one year and prepare for the Medical entrance exams but by that time I was sagacious enough to realize that me and Science are incongruous, we can never ever conglomerate under any circumstance and now when I have the chance to liberate myself from its shackles there is no reason for me to act differently.
Therefore, I embraced the subject in which I scored the highest marks in Class XII Board Exams, English Literature. I took admission in one of the best Colleges of not just my city but this country as well and at that time, I just had the plan to complete my Graduation in Literature and then shift to perhaps Journalism. It would be unjustified to say that throughout the period of these three years the situations were uniformly propitious. No, they were not but I never ever had a contention with my remarkable husband named Literature. Probably we had our misapprehensions about each other but we were neither belligerent nor pugnacious. No external dynamic force had to galvanize either one of us to sustain our relationship.
I even though was not in unalloyed love with him but surely did not abominate him or turned to my mother to stimulate me to carry on. When I reached my final year of Graduation and was in the middle of the year, I finally realized how much I love Literature and of course my 2nd year marks played a prominent role (I did well in my first year too but not to the extent to which it was in the 2nd year)- it more or less played the role usually played by some accident or catastrophic event which urge the leading pair to retrospect and acknowledge their intense love for each other in the Hindi dramas! By the time I completed my Graduation and decided to go for a M.A. degree in English Literature I didn’t need to be cajoled to study this subject. I was sentient enough to engineer my conviction that I deserve no other discipline to be my wedded husband other than English Literature.
I had the dogma that if I had chosen Humanities in my Class XI, I would have pursued a career in History, which used to be my most favourite subject back in School and is among my favourites in the present too. But now, I don’t even wish to think of a life where Literature is absent since its my firm belief that just by reading a wide range of books, you cannot discern this discipline in an accomplished way because there are multiple layers in the literature of every language which you shall never know until and unless you study it.
Literature has enthralled me; I fell in love with it and poured my heart out and my love was reciprocated. Nevertheless, it has probably loved me forever, I was a fool to waste so much of time before comprehending that love and enclasping it with every shred of warmth in my heart. Literature has liberated me, illuminated those aspects of my personality to which I was incognizant to, it has sharpened my circumspection, and its incandescence has lightened up the darkness of those two years and his effervescence has inculcated in me the much-needed exuberance and thus I estimate that it would have been ungracious on my part to refuse to not acknowledge the love and light and respond to it.
Now after almost four years, I solemnly declare that it has been an absolute pleasure to spend all these years of my life chaperoned by someone who is an epitome of everything I appreciate and love and from this moment on I refuse to have a life where there are no literature books, where there are no literary discussions, where there are no Austen or Shakespeare or Plath or Tagore… Not all relationships are fundamentally structured on love but then mutual respect, acceptance and cherishing can impel the love to subject itself to efflorescence and these I never nurtured for any of the Science subjects. I felt an estrangement when I was with them, I felt them retreating to nonchalance when it came to responding to my feelings.
Now, obviously not every student feels like that but there are quintessentially brilliant students who do feel so and it’s an exigency that the schools and the Indian Education System must stop conditioning the students in a way that the best students, the ones who score the highest marks are made to believe that they are meant for studying Science and must choose accordingly.
This unsaid rule that the conventionally good students must study Science and that Science is the best stream of all is so exasperating and must be guillotined. This is such a ridiculous belief because every subject has an essence of its own which is very particular and this cannot be categorized or hierarchized in terms of superiority and inferiority and every student must have the right to identify that subject which is ‘the one’ for him or her. Every discipline is zestful, has a beauty and is superior in its own right. I was never pressurized by my dear parents to select anything decided by them and they like ‘normal’ human beings allowed me to make my choice.
I made a mistake for which I suffered for two long years and then although situations arranged that Literature be my partner, I was a bit confident since I never had to struggle with this subject throughout my school life and not even in the last two years . Literature, which I love so much is entwined with my life in such a way that all I desire is to dive deeper and deeper into the subject that is nothing but magic.