I have been told, incalculable times, and quite acrimoniously, that my pursuits are in vain.
Nobody says this to me euphemistically, of course. Humans who regard themselves and their passions to be more superior to my own, tell me flagrantly:
“F**king English major, you won’t even be able to pay for your food.”
I used to remind myself that Conan O’Brien and Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan and Hugh Grant and Stephen Fry and Rosamund Pike (et cetera ad infinitum) all graduated with degrees in English Literature and all went on to become Screenwriters, Directors, Producers and Actors, but there were days when I would shatter and I wouldn’t be able to pick up the pieces. Those household names come free in the White Privilege Package, I told myself, Something that “Ria Ranadive” won’t ever be a part of.
That’s when I’d start to vilify my talents, and tell myself, quite acrimoniously, that my pursuits were in vain.
What I didn’t realise was that, in the process, I was beginning to hate myself. I hated my creativity, I hated my open-mind and my malleability, and I hated the fact that I could see through people with ease. I began to coat myself with flaws and fears that were dictated to me by my patronising peers, and I tried to convince myself that I was actually interested in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. I tried to fabricate my future degree from skeins of apathy, and I asked myself, why?
Indian Mentality told me that I’m not, and will never be, good enough, because I love the Humanities.
Indian Mentality warned me that “soft subjects” won’t get me to the Silicon Valley, which is where every Indian must go, obviously.
Indian Mentality yelled at me for wanting to study the human soul rather than human physiology, because what’s on the inside really doesn’t matter in this world where everyone is forgetting what it is to be human.
I didn’t realise that these same minds proclaim their love for Bollywood and their entertainment industry unashamedly. No matter how ridiculous, they enjoy the song-and-dance routines that make their films unique against the framework of Hollywood. Indians have dialogues from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge emblazoned on their tongues forever, but they still cannot accept the power of language, imagination and flexibility that devise these blockbusters. They do not realise that some knowledge of History was needed to put together Bajirao Mastani, that economics are greatly involved within the production and release of films, and that good communication skills are highly valued within the entertainment bubble.
Indians have trapped themselves in their own little paradox, and their obstinacy won’t let them out.
Over time, I’ve somewhat grown to accommodate myself to these hollow epithets about the Humanities. I’ve realised that they’re sunken statements, spouted from the mouths of intractable individuals, who obviously have predilections for the typically Indian professions ((STEM STEM STEM)).
I am now proud of my analytical skills that I’ve developed from studying the likes of Shakespeare, Wilde and Albee, who have let me gain third perspectives on International Affairs that have put me on the same page as New York Times Columnists. I am proud of my clarity and my broad expanse of mind, how I can think pragmatically but also creatively- a touch of epistemological idealism to the everyday realism.
I am now proud of my way with words, because I know that in the long run it will help. I am the occasional College Essay Editor, the Written Assignment Approver, the Backbone for marketing endeavours and publicity stints, the Walking Dictionary, the Spokesperson for Student Rights, the temperamental Performance Poet, Actress, Playwright and Film Director. I am the go-to for those who have difficulty in expressing themselves, The Bridge for The Gap.
If my skills are so “futile” right now, then why do individuals my age demand them?
Now, whenever people tell me, quite acrimoniously, that my pursuits are in vain, I laugh. These are the individuals who don’t appreciate my words injected with dark, surreal humour and satire, but appreciate South Park, Stephen Colbert and The Simpsons.