Every 90’s kid will have dreadful memories associated with mathematics and their fathers. I must have been in grade 5 when I realized my father’s keenness in my mathematical aptitude. If I had to plot a graph of my dad’s expectation vs. my actual mathematical skillset then it would be an extreme high and low.
My relation with the subject was never love at first sight. This was especially bleak considering my deep rooted bonding with my dad. My father obviously hailed from the times when education defined your social status. He and his brothers till date gloat about their mathematical panache and how they never resorted to calculators for calculations.
My earliest memories of Math with papa will also feature piles of plain papers or those typical grey colored recycled paper registers, all for practicing those umpteen sums.
I will also mention those ‘unwelcome days’ when UPSC results were out and the toppers made it to the headlines. Needless to say, papa twisted this towards the mathematical gully. He made us believe, kids who scored well in the subject went on to do exceptionally well in life. We had elite examples of kids on the block who went on to don the hat of coveted civil servants.
The pressure to master one’s mathematical skills was built from as early as primary schools. I once visited a cousins’ place during the summer vacations. It was a dreamy world because I was away from home (and copious mathematical formulae) . No mind boggling calculations of fractional multiplications and divisions. The books of mathematics in younger years are often disguised with colorful illustrations. I used the word disguise because they were aimed to generate curiosity and interest but not so successful always. So yes one of my uncles much to my dismay came over and could not contain his enthusiasm when he saw four budding learners. He picked a mathematical workbook and asked us to solve the questions. The one to finish it first would be awarded ten rupees. Did I make it ever? No!
This is not to say that all the efforts my father put in were in vain, as I turn back the pages of life I reminisce how my father eased those long nights where we kids burnt the midnight oil. He most lovingly prepared warm milk and offered to us in steel glasses. Badaam, akhrot and seasonal fruits to keep our brains running were placed next to a R D Sharma while we finished tons of calculations from R S Agarwal.
As a parent I often bribe my daughter with candies to get her to complete her meals .This technique is not new. I remember my dad gave us alluring offers of buying us a new watch or a new bicycle if we scored over a certain mark in Maths. Strategic Upbringings. Phew!
Life has come a long way since then. Math and my result still make their way into our family banters, though in a light hearted way. Some days when I want to relive those childhood days, I sit with my school report cards and almost hear my father in his typical tone, “base mazboot hona chahie, concept samjhlo”