Satisfaction: a word with different meaning for different people. Some people are satisfied by money,some by success, some from their family growth etc. Sometimes people when unable to realize what can be their life goals, start thinking as to what will satisfy them first and this gives them the answer.
Prem knew what satisfaction meant to him. That look on the eyes of his student when they topped in their board exams or when they scored more than 90% and even their parents couldn’t believe it. He knew for him that was satisfaction. Prem is an ordinary teacher though he teaches multiple subjects in this special school run by his group of friends. Its for children of families with less income. They don’t look for any caste, creed,religion while choosing. They select their students based on the family background of their students. So, hence they started project ‘Satisfaction’. It was a long term project where they basically started working on a batch of students from class 1 till their board exams. Simultaneously, the no. of students kept on increasing with each batch. What started with 30 students is now running with an average of 65 in each batch and ten such batches and first one supposed to pass out. Prem and his friends were in USA and during one of their trips, they came up with this idea. Sponsor such children as to education components, give them a detailed understanding of education as well as help them clear tenth with flying colors. They believed in educating them to a level that fall backs like reservation will never be needed by them. Thus, soon three friends quit their jobs, pooled in a chunk of savings and started their project which was their ultimate goal. Two more stayed back and worked on getting sponsorship.
Getting the first batch was always difficult because even poor parents were a bit suspicious as to what exactly their intentions were. They were ready to stay uneducated but didn’t want their child land up in one of stations in mumbai with a deformity built so as to help someone pocket the money. Thankfully, within six months, they had identified thirty children and got board approvals as to act as a school.
What started from that was a journey, they would never forget. The relationship they built over the years with first batch of students and also ones to come has come to define success for them and yes, to a large extent satisfaction. Prem taught mathematics and computers which they started after a couple of years from start. Karuna taught physics, chemistry and biology. Jo taught literature and arts and to certain extent, football. With well balanced course structure and an emphasis on learning they soon got their students to open up, question and focus on learning. Soon, they started getting competitive. Their children got prizes in city wide quizzes, project works and of course, art competitions. Project satisfaction got rave reviews and fundings started to flow. Prem and karuna started astutely using the budget. Free lunch was started along with monthly outings. They had some of the trips to remember. Jo was the one who was a darling among the kids, they loved the push he gave to their creativity, the flow of his thoughts and how he encouraged them and motivated them.
As Prem, karuna and Jo focused on last month revision of courses before the final board exams for their first batch. The talks more and more gathered around whether the batch will be a success as any bad result might get sponsors out. The tense soon spread from teachers to students as they worked hard to get their teachers proud.
It wasn’t long when Jo got a whiff of what was happening. He could get the sense that the students were under huge pressure. So, he organized for a meet.
These ‘meets’ are common in their school where teachers speak about a subject they have in mind and clear all doubt regarding the same. Prem and Karuna were also invited for the same. No one had any idea what this meet was about. In fact, there was a palpable tension which was spilling out in form of a searing silence. Prem and karuna were also looking tensed with their shoulders visibly down. A decade of work and reputation was at stake and any normal person would have reacted similarly.
Jo uncharacteristically,came ten minutes late and had a certificate in his hand. He went to the center of the room and stood intently looking at the certificate in his hands. As everyone started staring at him, expecting him to start. He looked intently at all and then slowly started.
” How do you measure success in life and what exactly are the correct indicators ?” These are two questions that have hounded billions of people. It’s not just us, its everyone who thinks about it at some point of time in life have thought of the same. I did. Exactly, twenty years ago, as my first board results came out with 78%, I asked me the same question. Am I successful with this and of course, when I got the answer no. I asked myself, didn’t I learn exactly what I was supposed to learn and did anyone learn it better than me. I got an answer that surprised me. I still felt with 78% marks in my board exams that I learnt better than anyone else in my class and I was proud of that. Hence, I felt there was one aspect where if success is measured, I will stand out. We went to the next board exams, then engineering entrances and then, semesters of engineering. With each such passing year, I learnt more and I got, well, similar marks. During my last year of engineering, I was dejected and disappointed with myself. I had lost all confidence in my abilities and I thought, what should I do with myself and with such scores. Well, thank god, my learnings stuck with me and through out my professional years, I used them when it mattered. As one day, Prem, Karuna and me got this idea and then, spent a decade working on this. I asked myself every year, are we doing correct, are we being successful ? Having left cushy jobs and toiled hard for our beliefs, its hard not to think what could have been at other side but at the same time, when I ask myself are we successful, I come with two different answers. One, No we are not perhaps, my students getting really high scores would make me successful. Two, if I without being successful with my 78% marks, can still get into a situation where I get another opportunity to measure my success, then why will others not get the same. So, when I thought about you guys and yours exams coming up, I thought why not organize a meet where I can perhaps clear some doubt’s of yours but this time about life. Life is not about pass – fail, high – low. Life is about accepting there will be all of it and still to do best to come up on your own defined parameters of success. Do remember there will be people telling you that you have failed, perhaps numerous times in your life and that would probably start with this board exams. Never listen to them, have your own parameters of success and achieve them. And yes, if you do fail. Don’t give up because soon you will realize that our parameters change as we grow up and life gives you many chances to succeed at your own defined parameters. I understand that there has been a lot of tension among you people for the upcoming exams. Well, that’s good because tension keeps us on our toes but yes, remember its just another test as there are plenty of such things to come ahead. I just want you to know, whatever you do, you guys have already made us proud with the amount of efforts you have put, with the learning’s you have and the clarity that you have got so far. Keep it up !!
As Jo finished, he looked around, in his speech, he had kind of stopped looking around for responses and was in his own world. Now, as he came back to this one of all, he saw Prem and karuna in tears. Karuna did well not to reveal his moist eyes while Prem was possibly taking everything inside out so that he can smile peacefully now. The kids were happy, ecstatic as if they found their ‘mantra’ for the exams while Jo stood unable to take so many different emotions at one go.
It was two months ago. The ‘ speech’ as the students call it and results day has come. Everyone is nervous though no one is showing it. Jo feels it too as he smiles it away. They are awaiting the results mail that the board sends.
Suddenly, the mail comes. Prem and karuna don’t open it and look at Jo. Jo says,” bloddy hell !! Open it and let me see”. They finally do after a few minutes. It was a mixed response with four people hitting the nineties and twenty four being in the eighties. The rest two were in early seventies. Jo and Prem shared the information with each student personally. They asked everyone not to reveal it. They said, it was just a feedback as tests haven’t even started for them.
As for Prem, karuna and Jo, that night as the drinks sessions started. Jo with his trademark maaja in his hand said, ” Do you guys feel it ?”. To vacant faces, he replied, ” This is satisfaction and perhaps, best decision we made in our lives. As we not only get it in each and every moment of teaching them but while bidding them farewell,you realize how important part of their lives you have and how each and every contribution they make to society, you will just feel proud.