What Happens When Three Misfits Get Together?
The first time I met a teacher at my child’s school, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that my boy is the proverbial square peg that refuses to fit in a round hole. He was five at the time. Years later, nothing has changed. If anything, the “squareness” has increased, challenging the “roundness” more and more. Every time I meet the teachers, I am told the same thing – “square peg in a round hole!”
Take art class for instance. His is the only owl in the class with red feathers instead of the expected brown. His sketch of a bicycle has spiky tyres that boast of Zen tangles. The leaves of the trees he draws are blue and look like the leaves of no tree on this planet. If you ask me, it’s still art! And it still looks beautiful!
But the teachers beg to differ.
What’s more, his expression of individuality isn’t just constrained to art. Take the case of Mathematics, for example. Why does one have to stick to the prescribed ‘steps’ to solve a problem or prove a theorem, asks he; when one can just quickly solve the same in one’s head? (Of course, by a method the school doesn’t follow).
Or in case of Science, or even Social Studies – why should the answers not be written and explanations not be given in his own words, which stay true to the crux of the matter, instead of writing the exact words given in the notes? As expected, the teachers have a problem with this.
I’ll tell you – I take it with a pinch of salt.
Like mother, like son, you say?
You see, I don’t care that he is a “misfit” according to the teachers, because yours truly has been there! And proudly so.
It all began with my bench mate in Class 1 pushing my books off the desk because he didn’t get enough ‘space’ to write as I was left-handed and he was right-handed, making our books bump into each other all the time. So what did I do? I pushed his books right back! Of course, I was promptly punished for this retaliation and then my ‘place’ was changed.
Anyway, that was the beginning of a long journey where I have consistently been the misfit. Be it the class picnic that every single child was excited about (which I took as a day off to read in bed!), or sports class (who said basketball was not for girls?), or the ignorance of the latest hit songs (I mean, how can the latest, even a super great number compare to a classic Mohammed Rafi or a Kishore Kumar song, seriously!), or even the preference of reading books to gossiping with friends (hours and hours spent reading – now who wouldn’t like that, I mean, come on!)
The one girl spending almost all her time in the library? The one girl not keen on sleepovers or the latest trends in make up? The one girl without a crush on the current Bollywood heartthrobs? (I mean, come on, who here would compare to the blue-eyed Pierce Brosnan with his charming lopsided smile, right?) The one girl who would actually prefer to go home if the last few lectures were cancelled? The one girl to not hang around the canteen all the time? – Yep, yours truly.
Not that I didn’t know that I was swimming against the current. I did. But this was the only way I knew to be, although that was clearly not the way of the larger population. Did it feel weird? Yes. Did it leave me practically friendless? Oh, yes! But then again, what was I to do about it anyway? I couldn’t change. I didn’t know how to!
And then came post graduate studies. By this time, most of my classmates from school and college were already dating. Some were even married! And this is where the serious repercussions of my being the misfit actually showed.
I didn’t have a steady boyfriend. (No surprises there!) I hardly dated. No, that doesn’t mean I didn’t go out or had absolutely no friends – I did (some). But they were, mostly guys who were either “nerds” or “geeks” like me, who preferred spending time among books more than with the ball on a field! Of course, there was the occasional hunk in the group who was stalked by the best of the female species the college had to offer; but that hunk was my friend, who came to me for practical advice on dating and managing his several girlfriends! (Oh yes, I doled out a lot of that, despite having no actual experience of dating myself).
We became friends. He was not into reading, he loved computers. He was a good competitor when it came to course work too, and he had a wonderful sense of humour! Other than that, like I mentioned, he was even more of a misfit, barely had any friends and hardly spoke to anyone other than the professors! Oh, did I mention he loved poetry? Song writing, to be particular. (He is the only guy who has ever written me a song!)
Yes. We went from friendship to love, pretty soon after that. (Come on, he wrote me a song, of course I fell in love with him!) And then we got married.
Living in a world that looked at us and wondered why we refused to fit into the round holes it had so painstakingly cherished and that everyone always adhered to – and ones we barely cared about!
So, while today, his path may be riddled with obstacles because he cannot fit into the round holes created by the society, I just let him be, and not bother about it much, because, looking back, I know, that as difficult as being a misfit today seems to be, it is what will shape his personality and make him into his own wonderful person as he grows! I mean, two misfits who turned into successful lawyers – one of them a lawyer-turned-writer (à la Grisham!) – I am thinking being a misfit is not all bad, eh?
(Rashmi runs a blog named Rashmi’s Space and a book blog called FindMyRead. She has also been published by Women’s Web, in their anthology “When Women Speak up”. You can tweet to her at @Rashmisspace)