If you’re reading this right now, it means that you’ve been part of the tuition system where your parents sent you to ‘learn and grow’. Malayali parents are very competitive. They love to show off their children’s ‘intellectual talents’ to other parents, who are also part of the rat race, in the hope to live up to society’s expectations of intelligence. After all, Kerala is a highly literate state. And the only way they could ever keep up with Kerala’s highbrow standard was by sending their kids to, drum roll please, tuitions.
Much of our childhood was spent in the four walls of a classroom or in a cramped, dingy room where tuitions were held. Our parents sent us to tuitions because of two reasons – they didn’t want to be bothered about teaching us personally so they’d pay someone to babysit us or we were just so dumb in their eyes that the only way they could see us succeed in life was by putting us under ‘personalised educational care’. Either way, we as true followers of the tuition system went there for a chill session devoid of any learning per se. Who can blame us; nine hours at school was more than what our brains could take.
After the school bell would ring, the thought of going for tuitions sparked such joy because the two hours that we were most likely going to vile away would turn out to be the best two hours of the day. And it is there we learnt all about socialising. And by that we mean – take part in romantic shenanigans, catch up with the latest school gossip, bitch about people, have junk food without parental approval, irritating friends using cuss words, paper chit shootouts, and face-to-face confrontations. But, deep down, what we all looked forward to was to see our friends in colourful clothes. It was nice. It was also the time we all judged them and passed snide remarks out of jealousy. The girl who’d wear sleeveless or a pretty dress would be the eye-candy in the room. The guy who’d sport the best sneakers and carried a smartphone would be the most popular guy in the room. What’s interesting though, was the fact that we were all one in that classroom doing nothing, but chilling. And we didn’t need booze or weed to ‘have fun’. All that was required was the company of good friends who were willing to do all the wrongs things possible, including pranking the tuition teacher.
Sometimes, even the tuition teacher would partake in our mischief to quiet us down. As far as the teacher was considered, his/her job was to teach in return for a monthly payment, even if he/she was fully aware that the students weren’t paying attention. You see, our teachers were the pioneers of “the subtle art of not giving a fuck” attitude. Now you know where we get it from! After all, a wise man once said, “it takes one teacher to change your life”. Looking back now, we can’t help but respect those glum-faced tuition teachers who suffered our legendary fish market scenes and bore with the notorious pranks we did to escape the boredom of science and accounting lectures.
What’s more, when we headed back home after tuitions, dreading about completing the next day’s homework, we were posed with a question from our mothers. “How was your class, kutty?” It was one of those questions that never had a truthful answer. Ask anyone, except the padipists of your class of course, and they’d say that the only reply to that question was that “It was nice. Learnt quite a lot.” That was all it took to keep our parents happy (and sane). Little did they know that tuitions were the right place for us to blow off some steam and had very little to do with studying.
Our endless zest of teenage-hormone driven mutiny was, in fact, the best part about tuitions. The mini, two-hour vacation taught us more about life than school. It’s the place where we realised the true meaning of freedom; a place where we were the happiest. We sure had a lot of fun and we wouldn’t do anything to undo that part of our life. For now though, all we can say is ‘Hail Tuitions!’.