Somehow, I have been thinking of grades- those magical alphabets that supposedly define one’s position and competence- A, A+, B, C, F, so on.. If I were to choose a grade for the last twenty years of my life, that choice itself would be the most enigmatic moment ever. Still, what grade would fit into my life so far? I can never think of that special, that ultimate “A” grade. My life does not deserve that “A” grade. “A” grade demands that life should be neat, orderly, thoroughly precise and structured. Let’s say, for a term paper that gets the “A” grade- its author must have chosen his words with great skill and played with his argument with great depth and subtlety. The author, in other words, would be flawless and confident about his/her texts and thoughts. But my life has never been that neat. I love the intensity of emotions, I am passionate, I am always in a state of excess. My thoughts flow and over-flow. No, “A” grade would never suit my life.
Let’s consider the second possible grade. The supreme, the ultimate. “A+”. Never, never ever, will my life match the requirements of “A+” But how beautiful would it be to achieve that ideal, that state of absolute perfection. I imagine what kind of a paper would get an “A+”. Who would be that one remarkable author who would produce the most original argument, plan out the most well-crafted structure and the one who would write the best introduction and the most brilliant conclusion? Who could stitch the beginning, middle and end into one perfect whole! I wonder, and I am thrilled. “A+” Will my life achieve that kind of brilliance? Will I be able to look back at my life years later with my grey hair falling on the key board and yet my smile sparkling with satisfaction? Will I stand near the sea as a victor who achieved all that he wanted? In the last twenty years, I found myself terribly inadequate. My thoughts flew like butterflies while my words crawl on the ground like snails! As I have said, I defy structure, I love excess, I hate balance, I hate order. Perhaps, “A+” can never be the grade for my life.
Let’s come to the third option. “C”. The grad that says “Poor”. A very strange word indeed. Poor, it lies below average, you have no place in the order of this world. My life-should I give it a “C” grade? I don’t think my life deserves “C” grade, no matter what. It is said that a plagiarized paper gets a “C” grade. The principle is dishonesty. No, by no means, my life has been dishonest. In the last twenty years, each moment of my life has been sincere. Many years back, we had a wooden gate and there was this cow who used to break in to have a bite of the grass. There would be a chaos in the house the moment the cow would enter. And I would burst into laughter finding them how busy they were battling against that harmless bovine. I would just fall down laughing and later invite a few lashes. Wasn’t that laughter sincere? Another incident comes to my mind which was a few days after my grandfather’s death. I was left all alone on the verandah. It was a full moon night and suddenly I shrieked with fear. Till today, I haven’t figured why that sudden fear erupted. Those moments of laughter, those moments of fear, they were all sincere and true, No, it would be unfair to assign my life a “C” grade.
“F”- the grade that signifies failure. Has my life so far been a failure? How would I judge the boy who has challenged his fears, inhibitions and timidity? How do we judge that tiny fish who left his tiny pond in search of the sea? How do I judge the small victories against struggles and mundane battles of everyday life? Didn’t I resist their malice? I will never accept the “F” grade. Life is never a tale of failure. Life can be imperfect and incomplete yet never a failure. Is it possible for all to achieve that grand perfection? Life makes us an eternal traveler and we encounter twists, turns and shifts, yet this journey in itself becomes the salvage. When destiny becomes the author, struggles become our stories. But it is never a narrative of failure, it’s never the “F” grade.
So what am I left with now? The “B” grade- which can give us all an acceptable position in this world. A “B” grade paper shows hard work, but falls short of the critical requirements. Yet such a paper can be re-worked, improved and re-submitted and thereby the gate to the world of “A” and “A+” would remain open. The average position seems to be comforting, being neither great nor inferior. Should I then consider the “B” grade for my life? I don’t know. Perhaps, I will never know. How will I grade that child who loved the summer rain, who fell in love with the dark sky yet who was hesitant to play outside in the rain? How would I judge that boy whose thoughts were endless but never spoke enough? How would I grade my decision when I decided to choose difficult and uncertain paths in life ? Perhaps, “B” grade might work for me. Perhaps, I will chase perfection till I achieve it like a rain drop. I too will leave the world of excess and illusions and some day move into that realm of the supreme and superlative, in that world of “A+” Or should I just embrace the reality of the “B” grade and seize the day.
Our lives oscillate between these grades. Between A+ and F, between perfection and failure, our lives constantly fly like the night bird. But what if we reject all those grades, and live a life in its utmost simplicity, free of judgements and evaluations. Or else, get caught in this constant grading and re-grading of our lives!