By Aman Chawla
I looked at my watch; the time was 11:30 am.
“Aman Chawla next!” The receptionist called my name and I felt ants crawling up on my legs. I held the file of my neatly arranged educational certificates and walked towards the cabin, where the interviewing panel was shuffling through the countless resume and arranging them in an order. I had always assumed that they place the candidates resume in order of his/her dumbness.
I opened the door, “May I come in sir?”
“Good morning everyone.”
“Good morning gentleman, Aman Chawla, right ?”
“Sit down Aman.”
“Thank you, sir.”
He was looking at my resume. There was mention of my graduation degree as a computer programmer. A couple of internships with some less known organizations were also marked in red. For an instant moment, I felt as if he was looking in the blankness of white sheet of paper on which black ink marks described a student’s twenty two years of life in less than twenty two lines.
His sudden query took me by surprise, “Aman, we’ve been taking interviews since 8 am today and I am pretty much tired. So, I’ll ask just one question. You have full freedom to answer it the way you would answer it at any point of time in your life. Give me an answer for my question that won’t change ever, no matter how many times you are asked this question by whomever.”
“It’s quite unethical to ask such questions in an interview where we are hiring an engineer, but I’ll go ahead and take my chances and would ask you to take yours.”
“I will, sir.”
“So, Aman, what if I tell you that you are going to die day after tomorrow?”
“I would like to know what would you like to do all day, tomorrow or as we can say, on the last day of your life? Think and answer.”
The same question goes to all of you reading this article.
Before you read it any further, have your answers with you.
Since the day I started talking, one question which was asked regularly to me was what I wanted to become in life. Teachers, neighbors, relatives, everyone wanted to know the answer to this question. No one wanted to tell me what life is all about in the first place, so I could figure out my role and the importance of my existence in the world.
I am going through the same dilemma even today. My parents are still not sure about my answer to this question. In the next few months, I’ll be facing interviews for the job of an application programmer. Programming is something I hate from the very bottom of my heart. I have failed terribly to learn computer programming in four years of college.
I know I don’t want to be a computer programmer, but I don’t know what I want to be, and this is true for many of us. We are given zero basic training about life, its practicality, the way it behaves, the changes it brings to us on a fixed schedule. We are forced to live in a dream world; more of an interpretation that if we study hard and get good jobs, we will secure ourselves financially. We are told that all we need to do is to keep doing a 9 to 5 job for the rest of our lives, meet monthly targets, plan our budgets, reduce errors and hope that the world is not hit by a financial crisis again.
What a tragedy! We don’t know what we want, but we pretty well know what we don’t want. In my case, I don’t want to work as an application programmer, ever.
We prioritize our lives according to the expectations of our families. It seems as if expectations & wishes are inter-related. The level of expectation is directly proportional to the amount of wishes one has. The more we wish from life, the higher the expectation to do well. If we don’t do well, if we do not meet the expectations, our wishes are not fulfilled. I am sure many of us want to do something different; there is an artist in each one of us which stays at the backseat as we go on prioritizing our lives to serve the interests & expectations of the people around us. If we tell our well-wishers about our wishes, they will certainly find a stronger argument to prove us wrong and force us to walk on the easiest path which ensures security throughout the life.
Abraham Lincoln was questioned by a man, “How can you even think of governing a country? Have you forgotten that your grandfather was a cobbler?”
Lincoln politely answered, “Yes! It is true that my great grandpa’ was a cobbler, but he was not just an ordinary cobbler, he was the best! He used the best of his techniques to make shoes. For him, shoe making was not a job, it was an art, and he made each pair with so much of dedication as if it was going to be the last pair of shoes he’ll ever make. Anyone who has ever wore a shoe made by my grandpa’ never went to another cobbler and I admit it that I won’t be able to bring the same excellence in my governance, as my grandpa brought in each pair of shoes he made.”
One lesson that I learnt from this story is that it doesn’t matter what you do, but how you do.
If you don’t love what you are doing, you are not giving your hundred percent to it. The major issue that we face is finding what we love to do. However fast you may row your boat, you will not be getting anywhere if you don’t know where you wish to reach.
“Sir, I will write poetry, play snooker, sing some songs..”
The interviewer cut me short and said, “Aman, we are doing bulk placement here, no matter what your field of expertise is, we have already decided to select you to work for us. But, let me tell you one thing. At some point in our journey through life, most of us end up having an anxiety about what would have happened if we had taken the road less travelled, if we had chosen to act upon our wishes rather than our parents’. Life will end, may be not tomorrow, and may be you will live a little longer, but live life to make worth of it. Be wise with your choice. We generally don’t talk to our aspirants like this, but even we can’t help it. I give you a choice, here is your appointment letter, you pick it up and you have a job, if you don’t, I will assume that you are going to do the things that you love doing, the very same things that you told me you will do.”
I stepped out of the room without the appointment letter but with a hope that my parents will someday understand that I did the right thing.
“Aman Chawla! Who is Aman Chawla here?”
The receptionist was calling my name. I regained my senses and looked at my wrist watch. The time was 11:35 am and I was the last one to be interviewed.
“Oh my! The interview hasn’t happened yet. It was all a dream!” I thought.
A sudden realization struck me at that moment. More than a dream, it was a message. I picked up my file of neatly arranged educational certificates and begin to walk out. I requested the receptionist to thank the panel sitting in the cabin.
Life may not give me a better indication to do what I am born to do. All it takes is a onetime courage.