I bunked college today, missed my presentations and assignment submissions, and went on a road trip with my friends to Fort Tikona. I kept thinking of my classmates, who are currently sitting inside four walls, learning, growing and educating themselves for a professional life ahead. But as I drove towards Lonavala, sitting amongst three Indian Naval officers, listening to their conversations about India, China and the US defence forces, I wondered if this isn’t learning as well?
Does education mean attending classes for attendance and feeling pressurised about beating your fellow classmates for a better placement to start a never-ending journey of surviving capitalism?
The fear of low attendance in a post-graduate diploma course filled me up. Looking out of the window at the infinite greenery, as if right out of my favourite novel Jane Eyre, I tried to put that fear out of my mind and just live in that moment. The words of my undergraduate professor, Dr. Colaco, echoed in my head, “Stop existing ladies, and start living”.
The green life all around the four of us took us away to a world where money, career and the whole world itself couldn’t bother us. We were too immersed in capturing the beauty through our eyes, taking a mental picture of the natural beauty that our country has to offer, exploring hidden architectural gems and trekking our way to the top of Fort Tikona. Upon reaching the fort, the moment we saw the scenic view of the Pawna village and Pawna Lake, nothing that our lives were made of, mattered. The connection with the nature and planet Earth, as the Lord made it, the closeness of four friends panting and laughing, feeling no less overjoyed than if we were somewhere in the countryside of Europe, I forgot all my fears and muttered to myself, “It was all worth it, Hina”.
Standing atop Fort Tikona, looking at the lake cutting between two mountains of nothing but green, I realised that whether it is through the words of an experienced professor or from our own experiences, learning happens everywhere, every time and everywhere.
However, I know I will not be graded for collecting my own experiences. I will be marked ‘absent’ for not sitting inside four walls and listening to the experiences of my professors and words on papers, but at least I was ‘present’ for my present and I have no regrets.
“What is learning?” will remain a question for each individual to answer for themselves. If we seek validation and an answer to this exclusively from others, then we’ll never be learners. We’ll merely be passers of information. I will be looked down upon by my parents and teachers for not doing the minimal that is required of a student – attending classes. I will feel ashamed for extending my long weekend to yet another weekend and travelling. But will these dilemmas matter a few years from now when I shall look back at my trek to Fort Tikona and recall, as I was told, how Shivaji laid his fort defences?
No they won’t, because who hasn’t bunked college classes and missed assignments?
In my case, I’m glad I bunked one form of learning, only for another.