All that you have to do is fly

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Aadi came running out of preschool and jumped into my arms. He looked at me with those huge adorable eyes and excitedly told me what they had learned today.

“Mom, mom did you know that birds can fly in the air?”

“Yes I know sweetie, let’s go home now.” I said as he grabbed my hand.

“Mom, teach me how to fly.”

He told me with hope evident in his eyes. I did not answer, or it is better to say that I couldn’t answer that question. I did not want to break that innocent wish if I could help it.

My son is sixteen this year and he must have forgotten this little past recollection but I keep it close to my heart. This makes me a little sad and guilty as I could neither explain better, nor fulfill his wish that day but after that I aspired to be a teacher. Now I’m a Professor of Economics at Kamala Nehru College teaching hundreds of students each year and I’m proud of that.

Balancing my work life and my family life has always been difficult (failing many times on both sides). But I received a lot of help, especially from my kids. Seeing kids grow up is a wonderful and astonishing journey. As they do, I am proud of them but at the same time, reminiscent about them as they were earlier- pure and clueless about the world. They made me have a stronger conviction to give my best to my students and also made me realize how the smallest things in our life are the ones that sometimes leave the deepest impressions on us, inspiring us to carry forward and do something unique.

There is an interesting analogy. The basic idea of the game theory proposed by the brilliant man John von Neumann that interactions are strategized between two or more players in a situation and a decision is arrived at thereafter. Extended to real life, a person’s interaction with the outside world is primarily influenced by the activities of others around him/her. You are in a traffic jam. You are about to close on an important deal. You need to buy the tickets to a show with your friends. You don’t apply mathematical modelling to the problem, and still game theory can explain these things since it is a simple and beautiful mathematical model of human strategy. Children as they grow up shrink their dreams from wanting to become the Prime Minister to wanting to become an employee of an esteemed firm. This ‘rationality’ is the practical insight of the world gained over years, yet as a result, we end up settling for less instead of risking our existence for something possibly more wonderful. We as a race have found ways to defend our limitations, but those who step beyond all this are able to write their story.

For the past few years I have given it my all for my students (and I still want to do more for them), from supporting them in all I can to feeling ecstatic for my students when they take admission into the University of their Choice. Had it not been for my kids and my students, I guess I would have become someone ordinary. I would not have had a chance to write for BSP. That little conversation with my son inspired me do something out of my comfort zone and lit a spark within me to work for helping my students to reach dreams they hold close to their heart. I want them to learn how to work endlessly and joyfully to achieve their aspirations, and that is what I would like tell my readers.

I want them to learn how to fly.

Tanushree Dash

Professor, Economics, Kamala Nehru College, New Delhi

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