Yesterday, I attended a family function. It was one of those rare occasions when I resurfaced from my pre-historic cave to peep out in the civilized world. Naturally, all my relatives (mostly the ones who qualify for senior citizen concessions) flocked over me and started off with the ‘Aiyo! She’s become soooo tall. And soo thin. The last time I saw you, you were this tiny’ (and they showed how tiny I apparently was by moving their hands a foot apart.)
Most of this is probably like a deja vu for others like me. If politeness didn’t come in my way, I’d have probably retorted by saying: ‘I am not tall. I’m only 5 feet 2 inches and I can barely reach the top latch of my bedroom door. I’ve become thin? well….ahem….thanks! and I thank the dear lord I have grown since the last time you saw me. I don’t imagine you would be very pleased if I were to defy the laws of growth and evolution and remain a foot long 19 year old anyway.”
See? That’s what always goes on in my mind everytime I have to face the same dialogues thrown at me. But offlate I’ve been receiving other kinds of remarks. The most repetitive ones being comments on the choice of my career. I’m doing a BA. Also known as Bachelor of Arts. Also known as a Beeyay by my relatives.
Beeyay is a new career option. It is different from a BA. A beeyay is a low-down career option you would be glad to consider if your report cards contained only Yeff or Dee. In other words, if you averaged a 41% in your bored exams. BA, however, is only understood by people who average over 85% and yet choose an arts subject out of a passion and interest for it.
But the Beeyay has gained so much popularity over generations, that I wont even begin to defend a BA. Instead, I shall go on to describe what exactly happened in that family function.
I was beginning to resemble a giraffe by straining my neck towards the dining room when I was attacked by a couple of aunties. They all kept smiling politely and made the same remarks I’ve mentioned above. Then one of them asked me:
Aunt no.1: So child, what are you doing now?
Me: I’m in my second year degree aunty.
Aunt no.2: Oh……you are doing yengineering or Yembeebeeyes? (MBBS)
Me: Umm….actually, I’m doing Psychology and Journalism.
Aunty no.1: eh? Psychology? Why child? You want to read our minds or something?
Aunty no.2: No no. she wants to become like Barkha Dutt.
Aunty no.1: Haha!! Yes yes. Very good. So you are doing BSc in Psychology and Journalism?
Me: No. I’m doing a BA.
(What followed later was a portrait of shocked expressions. Almost as if I had confessed to a murder or I had injected their children with poisoned darts.)
Perhaps even poisoned darts or murder doesn’t do the justice to that expression they had when they heard me utter the two alphabets: BA.
This is how Beeyay is still treated in most places. On one hand, people come up to me and say that I’m doing something very brave by getting out of the rat race. My friends sometimes envy me and think I go gallivanting to mental hospitals for case studies. I don’t agree with either. I am not out of any rat race. I’m in a different rat race altogether. One that runs on a different track. But parallel to engineering or medical. And as much as I would love gallivanting to mental hospitals, I don’t. because I also study theory, statistics, practicals and write exams with the same amount of tension as anybody else. So why must I be ashamed of my Beeyay anyway?
The next time around if someone does ask me what I’m doing, I’m probably going to raise my nose a tad higher (in a rather futile attempt to look condescending) and reply proudly, “I’m doing a Beeyay. So, what?”