The Other War

Getting a teen to study extra hours also involves mines, surgical strikes — even LoCs

Written by Shalini Langer | Updated: October 18, 2016 11:48 am
Hispanic Mother Helping Young Children With Homework There were lines of control, lines of actual control, and many minefields in the middle. With no fencing or body armour. (Source: ThinkStock)

While you catch your breath in this blistering blast of patriotism, I have my flag-bearer — “Harshvardhan”. I knew there had to be one of you out there: A teenager willing to study three extra hours daily, “for the sake of the country”. With the weight of the prime minister behind me, I turned with new vigour to my 16-year-old. My contribution to the patriotic cause also had to be a surgical strike, but with strategic restraint. There were lines of control, lines of actual control, and many minefields in the middle. With no fencing or body armour.

WATCH | Pakistani troops violate ceasefire in Jammu Kashmir’s Rajouri District

I know teenagers and parents move in different time zones, at different speeds. But behind every Harshvardhan — reminds me, must find one child by that name — there had to be a mother, I was sure. Looking for those three extra hours daily.

So last Thursday, my unsuspecting son and I began our first day with an eye on the clock. As he got up protesting, I found myself noticing the feet. Were they dragging? Did he really walk that slow? With the drumbeats of war in my ears, that teen shuffle, I thought, had to remain our dirty secret. What if the nation that needs to know came to know I was raising this breed of lazy Indians?

As he sat sulking in front of his food, I felt time ticking by. The daughter, realising all the attention was on the other front today, was off triumphantly. Thirty minutes had gone, and for the next 10, I had an idea what would follow. How long does it take for a teenage boy to make his hair without a comb? Let me just say that, like the comb, I concede defeat.

School, TV, homework, football had to still come. Around 12 hours in all. What could we bargain on? It was time for a confidence building measure. A pizza meal, for a quickie lunch? The remote to be his rather than his sister’s? Lock her in another room maybe and thus get one “time-waster” out of the equation? Hmm, that could be the game changer, but no, couldn’t risk the counter-strike from that end. Perhaps I could finish half his homework? Or fuse the bulb in the football field in one of those stealth operations to make him return home earlier in the evening?

The thought of me on the pole was very distracting, but I had to focus. Of course, we could both just stay awake into the night, studying. I was already dreading the direction this was taking.

It was 3 pm, time for the school bus to return, and I had few answers. It was 4 pm, and the pizza and TV CBMs had long failed. By 5 pm, homework had been spread out and we had not saved an extra minute. My son had his book open on a chapter on the United Nations with a bravely smiling Ban Ki-moon. I felt a wave of sympathy for the gentle man.

It was 7:30 pm, and as my son finally began to wonder why I wouldn’t leave his side, I started telling him about Harshvardhan, who, in Class XI, was managing his time so well, apart from writing letters to the PM. Was there any proof three hours of extra studying changed a country’s life, he asked. Really, how dare he? Martyrs and dedicated students were to be taken at face value, particularly when one was difficult to tell from the other. The image of a Harshvardhan, bent over his books in a dark room, next to a shut window, with food being slipped under his door, slipped into my mind. Focus, focus.

It was 10 pm and I was ready to call it a day. Of my three extra hours target, I had met 30 minutes. We said our goodnights, neither meeting the other’s eyes, got into our rooms and closed our doors, both with a sigh of relief. At the other end awaited a ceasefire, a bed and “not doing anything”. Remember the feeling? It was eight hours to another day.

shalini.langer@expressindia.com

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App now

  1. K
    K SHESHU
    Oct 13, 2016 at 1:56 pm
    Some ' puns''sting one' s heart ... this is one such 'pun' ...
    Reply
    1. A
      Anon
      Oct 13, 2016 at 3:05 am
      Teens need to be somewhat independent...they should be left alone and given the freedom to choose how to best spend their time.
      Reply
      1. M
        manu
        Oct 13, 2016 at 4:31 pm
        give him some freedom, don't be so "intolerant" !
        Reply
        1. P
          pappu
          Oct 13, 2016 at 11:30 am
          Thank you for dumbing down the security and morale of the country's security forces and distorting the dreams of the youth and the future of the country.lt;br/gt;Well done, you will be paid well by the dynasty masters.Perhaps pappu will go around petting you on the head like he does to the chihuahua that he carries around.
          Reply
          1. R
            ravi
            Oct 13, 2016 at 4:17 am
            Useless article as usual...very childish
            Reply
            1. R
              Rohit
              Oct 13, 2016 at 3:58 am
              It is because of articles like this that i have no respect for Indian express. If your esteemed journalist didn't understand what PM said let me explain.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The PM has always maintained that the best way to counter stan is to strengthen India's capabilities. India needs to be internally strong so that a nation of 1.25 billion people can punch as per its weight. When that happens the world will understand and stan will be discredited.lt;br/gt;For India to be strong each section needs to be productive. The engineers should work better, teachers should teach well and students should study well rather than rote learning.lt;br/gt;It is sad that such an article appears in Indian express.
              Reply
              1. K
                KP
                Oct 13, 2016 at 12:53 pm
                surgical strikes r immediately to be carried out in JNU to bust the den of anti nationals
                Reply
                1. S
                  sahil
                  Oct 13, 2016 at 6:02 am
                  Shalini, Well done lt;br/gt;nice punlt;br/gt;harshwardhan
                  Reply
                  1. S
                    SP
                    Oct 13, 2016 at 7:13 am
                    Is this a good example of "drivel"?
                    Reply
                    1. S
                      suresh kumar
                      Oct 13, 2016 at 4:53 am
                      Shalini langer biggest irony of indian subcontinental voters' approach toward democracy is that they think that their only duty is to vote and then ever-thing is taken care by govt. And this is the legacy we are ping onto our next generation upcoming voters. This is evident in this article itself "asking PM for if it is really productive to study extra 3 hours", the question which every parent must raise in their parent teacher meetings in school not to PM, because every household's micromanagement is the macro-management of country.
                      Reply
                      1. Load More Comments