People, who think all they have achieved in life is only due to their own hard work and determination, lie. Of course, it is important you work hard and believe in yourself but it is almost impossible to achieve great things without the help of others. Preparing for Indian Institute of Technology’s Joint entrance Exam (IIT-JEE), has been one of my biggest achievements in life and it was just a dream which seemed rather impossible when I set out for it. Now, when I am about to complete my degree in engineering from an IIT, I feel really lucky and grateful to the people who helped me reach here and the most important person among them is my mother. Had it not been for her love, support and belief in me, I would have never cleared IIT-JEE and would never become the person I am today. As an average student till class tenth, who was considered just above average in mathematics in his school in a small city of Akola, Maharashtra, my parents, especially my mother, were the first people who dreamt that I might one day be able to clear IIT-JEE and hence build a good life for myself.
It all began when a distant uncle visited us one day and on learning that I was very good (according to my parents; we all are the best in the eyes of our parents, aren’t we?) at mathematics, suggested that engineering, and furthermore trying for IIT, might be a good step ahead for my academic life. The visiting uncle explained to my parents how difficult it was to crack the IIT-JEE and how it will be a sure shot way to a good life if I cleared it. He was so much in love with IITs and had so much respect for the exam that the IIT bug affected my parents too. After that visit, which was in around August 2005, my parents extensively researched about IITs for about 5 months and found out everything that there was to know. In January 2006, when I was preparing for my class tenth finals, my parents made a quick trip to Kota to see for themselves about the living conditions there and if it was a good place for their 15 year old kid. Going to Kota was no easy thing back then. Bansal classes, one of the best in business to help you clear IIT-JEE, used to have entrance exam. After my final exams of class tenth, I was sent to Kota where I studied at Garg Classes to prepare for that entrance exam. Such was the will and dedication of my parents that I was sent to study in a coaching class to get into another coaching class that would help me to get into a college of my liking. My parents were jubilant when I cleared the exam and thus with high expectations, I was sent to Kota.
My first year of preparing for IIT-JEE in Kota was a little blur. It went away too quickly before I could realize what I was dealing with. I had little idea of the scale of the exam that I was giving and the amount of work that I was required to put in. On top of that, it was my first time living away from home and adjusting in a new city with new people took some time. My mom would often visit me so that I wouldn’t feel home sick and also to help me concentrate on my studies. And despite of all the efforts, I could only reach close to the top 25% of the students in Bansals till the end of my first year.
In my second year at Kota, my mom had figured out that I needed her support more than I said I did and hence she decided to stay with me for longer periods of time. She would only frequently visit our home in Akola as she stayed with me for most of that year. We rented a big place with two rooms and a small (very small) kitchen and lived there. My mom bought a gas cylinder, a second hand refrigerator and all the required utensils which she couldn’t bring along with her from home. We had made a second home for ourselves (or as close to a second home as you can) in the city. She would help me make a time table for studies, wake me up for classes every morning, stay up with me whenever I studied till late (which was often because I preferred studying at night) and made me coffee and Maggi even when she felt sleepy. She was my support whenever I failed to perform in exams. In things that she couldn’t help me with, like when I was stuck in studies, she would encourage me to go and sought help from my friends. While all the other kids in Kota were falling ill due to mess food or were struggling cause of living alone or were unable to cope with the sheer volume of home work that they were supposed to do, my mother was always there for me and helped me with things which might have easily distracted me and lead me to a path of failure. My mother sacrificed a lot for me. She used to be in a constant state of anxiousness and unease thinking of her other two children (my two younger siblings had to be without the help and love of my mom because she was there for me in Kota). I failed to clear IIT-JEE despite of all her efforts because I wasn’t capable enough and because I didn’t put in the required amount of hard work. It must have been frustrating for my mother to put in all the hard work, all the sacrifice and see it all go waste because I didn’t work hard enough but she never, ever even in her most vulnerable moment let me see that. For her, I had tried my best and that was enough for me to deserve her love.
I wanted to have another try at IIT-JEE and take a year off to prepare for it but everyone I talked to suggested otherwise. No one believed in me and they had a reason not to. I not only failed at it but did so miserably. I only secured a meager 127 marks when the cut off for securing the lowest rank was 180. It was the worst period of my life and I knew that I didn’t deserve a second chance. If I had come close to it, I would have thought I deserved a second chance but when I was so far off I knew that it was stupid to even ask for it. It’s really magical how our moms know everything that goes on in our head and heart. I don’t even remember mentioning it to her that I would like to give it a second chance but one day she came up to me and said ‘Your dad has agreed to it and we are behind you.’ My dad wanted me to give it another try but didn’t know if I was up to it. Preparing for IIT-JEE in Kota takes lot of money and my dad had all the reasons to not wanting to put that money on me – after I had almost literally wasted all the money he put on me during the first two years – considering that he had two more children’s education to look after. But my mother convinced him because she believed in me. She was not blindly egoistic about her son’s abilities. She believed that I had the potential to clear IIT-JEE, if not the natural intelligence or talent.
In my third year at Kota, I was a changed person. A mother’s belief in you, when everyone in the world including you has lost that belief, can motivate you immensely. I secured an overall rank of 37 in my first test in Bansal among the 4000 students who had decided to take a drop and retry for IIT-JEE. My mother’s belief and faith was answered. Her support the previous year would have been enough for me to clear the JEE but she decided to put in extra effort from her side too. She would read about healthy diets, about how important meditation is for concentrating on studies and what a child needs apart from studies to succeed. In my final year of Kota, I did everything that might have felt necessary for clearing exams. My mum would make me eat salad so that I didn’t feel sleepy while studying. She would bring me motivational books to read like ‘You Can Win’. She would play badminton with me so that I felt fit and healthy. She bought me an mp4 player (which my father was against because he thought it would distract me from my studies) because she realized that I loved music and listening to music helped me to relax in the best possible way. She would keep track of my sleeping hours making sure that I slept for at least 7 hours every day. She would stay up late with me during exams and talk to me during my study breaks to help me take my mind away from studies whenever I felt pressurized. Most of the students would destroy themselves by thinking worrying too much about the exam whenever they had free time but for me, my mother was the one who worried for me so that I could stay calm. We would go to watch movies together at the end of every monthly exam as she felt that I needed entertainment as much as I needed anything else to keep a balance and calm mind. I performed poorly in my pre-diwali exam securing a shameful 725 rank when I had averaged a rank of 115 in all previous tests. She sensed that I needed a break and so we travelled home for a Diwali break which helped me a lot in terms of confidence and belief which only being with your loved ones can give you. My mother used to make frequent visits (travelling alone on most occasions) to Kota from Akola and back which was a 24 hour train ride including changing of trains at Ratlam station. She would be torn between the conditions at home (thinking about the loneliness my 7 year old brother and 14 year old sister felt without her) when she was with me and the struggle I would face if she went back home to them. Some people think it is no big deal, what she did for me, but it was a very big deal for me in so many ways no one will ever know.
I still vividly remember the day when the result of IIT-JEE 2009 was out. She woke up very excited and we went around town to search for an internet café to check my results. I was out with my father at an uncle’s house refreshing the website to check my result when an uncle called my father to let him know that I had passed IIT-JEE. I rushed back home to my mother who was standing in the balcony, all anxious and nervous, waiting for me. She just couldn’t do anything else until she knew the result, she said. I went up to her and said ‘297 marks and All India Rank of 580’. She hugged me. She was so happy for me that she didn’t have anything to say except ‘I knew it. I knew it!’ All I wanted to say to her was ‘Thank you’ but those words seemed so empty and inadequate that I didn’t say anything. I just hugged her back strongly to let her know and I knew that she would understand what I am trying to say because she always knows everything. Some people might say it was my achievement but they would be very wrong. She was as much part of this as I. We both had given it our all and this was the result of both our hard work.
After a few hours of hugging and crying happy tears and eating sweets, she went to the phone and called up every single person starting from that uncle who had first told us about IIT-JEE to the land lady in whose house we were staying as paying guests in Kota and thanked them for all the support and help that they provided in the past few years. People forget that without the help of others, we are nothing and for a moment I might have forgotten that without her help, I might not have achieved this but she never forgot the people who helped her in helping her son achieve his dream or rather her dream for him. I might have forgotten it a few times then but today I am well aware that without her love, belief and care I would never have made it. It is funny how I can’t even think of words that will be able to express my gratitude to her but I know this that if not for her, I would never have made it to the IITs.
True love, they say, is in caring for someone with all your heart and being there for them through thick and thin and no one can do it better than a mother. For all your love and support and care and belief in me, that keeps me going even after all these years, thank you mom! I love you!