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Hardships carry their own lessons

12:00 AM Jun 07, 2024 IST | Dr Muhammad Amin Malik
hardships carry their own lessons

Hardships, challenges and failures teach invaluable lessons. They test our resilience, courage and ability to overcome obstacles. Those who confront these adversities with unwavering courage, resilience and determination, emerge stronger and successful.


It is true that comfort and complacency hinder growth but adversity pushes us beyond comfort zones, leading to meaningful achievements and a deeper understanding of life. Many great success stories feature individuals who have emerged from tough times.


These individuals have overcome significant challenges and endured numerous hardships, including abuse and discrimination. They often attribute their achievements to the adversities and failures they encountered along their journeys. Rather than perceiving adversities as obstacles, these individuals grew through challenges, acted courageously, discovered themselves and made a successful transition towards better future.


Ten years ago, when I was a faculty at Amar Singh College, on my way back home from the office, I used to go to the neighbouring market to buy fruit. Among the bustling stalls, one day a particular fruit seller on the cart snagged my attention. The vendor was assisted by his son, who was a school going kid.


The young boy after his school hours would lend a hand to his father by standing behind the cart to serve customers while his father would stand nearby watching his activities. I approached the boy to buy some fruit and while he started filling the bag, I offered him a crisp 500-rupee note, only to learn that he did not have change.


Undeterred, I asked if he knew the amount he needed to give me back. Spot on! I got surprised how this class 4th kid knew the addition and subtraction so well. With unwavering confidence, he assured me of his proficiency in basic arithmetic, stating that he knew the exact sum to be paid back. His competence in calculations left me astonished, considering his tender age and the class in which he was studying. Despite being taught additions and subtractions through books and exercises in the classroom, the boy could solve the problem with ease.


Intrigued by his composure and intelligence, I gently probed further, curious to learn more about his educational background, wondering if he missed out on his schooling. To my amazement, he revealed that despite attending school regularly, he also dedicates some time to assist his father on the fruit cart. The boy explained how upon returning from school, he would promptly join his father, placing his school bag inside the cart before engaging with customers.


As the conversation progressed, the boy's eagerness to converse mirrored my own growing interest in his story. Eventually, he took my 500-rupee note in his hand, skillfully handing me the fruits along with the correct change. He carried change in the box perhaps intending to reserve it for any exigency.

Delighted by his efficiency and charm, I struck up a conversation with his father, exchanging pleasantries and admiring their hard work. I appreciated the boy’s father and encouraged him to prioritize the boy’s education against all odds. Before parting ways, I expressed my intention to stay in touch with them. With a heart warmed by the encounter, I headed home, reflecting on the resilience and determination embodied by the young boy and his father.

This incident not only showcases the boy's admirable work of managing the business and transactions but also highlights the invaluable bond between father-son duo. They are united in their efforts to break the cycle of their poverty. Now, looking at the other side, parents today strive to provide their children with the best possible education and all sorts of comforts and conveniences, ensuring that they face as few hardships as possible.

In doing so, they sacrifice their own pleasures, professional opportunities and desires, to be available for their children. From washing clothes to preparing lunch boxes, making bedding, helping with home work, mothers handle every task and also bear child’s anger. The mother preparing nutritious breakfast cajoles him/her into eating something to nourish brains and the father is ready with a car to drop him/her at the tuition centre.

Then, both parents engage in spiritual practices to seek blessings for their child's success. Such upbringing fosters dependency on parents and those who grow up in such overly pampered high-pressure environments often struggle to cope with the inevitable challenges and uncertainties of real life. The parents inadvertently hinder their children's growth, independence, and resilience, affecting their ability to think critically and handle personal and professional challenges.

Nature provides us with many examples of effective nurturing and teaching methods, and one of the most striking examples is about bird parenting. The birds provide the initial support allowing chicks to grow and gradually reduce their level of direct care. They begin to encourage the young birds to leave the nest and explore their surroundings. One of the most dramatic examples of bird parenting is when they teach their young ones to fly. Some bird species do this by nudging their fledglings out of the nest.

To avoid falling, the young birds learn to fly mid-air. This process helps young birds to adapt quickly to new situations which develop their muscle strength and balance. They overcome fear, hone instincts and develop survival skills. How did these tiny birds know to teach their young ones flying?

Birds are also born with innate behaviours, evolutionary adaptations and genetic programming that drive them to perform certain behaviours which are necessary for their survival and reproduction. These instincts have been honed over millions of years of evolution. However, humans often interfere with these natural processes in ways that disrupt their natural development.

Parents do experience anxiety about their children's future which drives them to push them harder, sometimes at the expense of their comfort. As a result, children miss out on certain activities such as games, sports, and watching television.

Education ideally should provide holistic development of students to handle real-life challenges effectively. The regimented schedule in our institutions particularly in the private sector mainly focus on discipline, examination, fluency and less on practical/hands-on experience and the students are often rewarded for compliance rather than innovation.

This environment can stifle creativity and discourage students from thinking independently or taking bold initiatives. The students have to acclimate themselves to performing their own tasks, helping others and what they can do, must not be facilitated.

By learning from nature, we should create environment that balances protection with that of freedom, where our students can explore the world, navigate through difficulties, discover their potential and accomplish meaningful success for themselves.