Today’s generation probably hasn’t experienced a fun-fair or circus, like the previous generation has. There aren’t many around and there are definitely no television commercials to get us excited even if they were. I, for one, had only seen the acts of a circus on television, during soaps and dramas, and those too, didn’t appeal to me at all. When there’s so much to do and so much to watch, why would someone pay to see some men on a unicycle or an elephant crushing a watermelon under its feet, I will never understand. When I saw a circus act was in town, however, I decided to pay the nominal fee it took to get into the large tent, just for a peak. The handful of people, with their very young kids who were the only ones excited, sat alongside me, had their eyes fixated on the main performance: Twins hanging from a cloth, a cloth that seemed destined to snap and tear off any second, I, instead, noticed a side-attraction: A circus clown juggling three colourful balls – red, green and blue, his eyes blindfolded; the speed, the consistent motion, it was almost poetic and, for a second, I forgot about the stench that had filled the tent. His act wasn’t funny to the minimal audience, however, till he dropped one, and later, all three balls, completely ruining the juggle and the purpose of the act itself. This brings to light a very important point: It’s not the act and talent of the clown that is funny, it’s the failure.
Nobody bats an eye when there’s a newspaper article about a young boy from a village somewhere in Maharashtra getting a perfect score in SSC/HSC/CET and other competitive exams. It is expected that there’ll always be someone who overcomes the odds: studying without notebooks, or electricity, or both. However, if we, as students from any esteemed college in Mumbai, with 24-hour electricity, dozens of notebooks, textbooks, digests at our disposal and dozens of libraries in the city fail to score more than a neighbour or a friend, we’re instantly on par with the clown who couldn’t juggle. Where have I come up with this comparison, you may ask? There’s no connection whatsoever between students like us and a clown in a circus but there is a connection – a very simple one in fact. We’re all jugglers in a circus! We work hard, attend college, sit for classes and do our work diligently and nobody cares. Even if you have secured a considerable score in every exam up until today, look back and answer truthfully – how many people have sincerely cared? If it wasn’t about a comparison or a benchmark being set for themselves or their kids, no one aside from your family would bother asking about your grade. That’s the ‘no one caring about your success’ part, which probably makes you feel like you’re wearing the clown costume, sure, but you are still wondering where the juggling part is.
Being a student today isn’t easy, not at all. We’re in our early 20s now but we’re still behaving like teenagers, so I don’t have to even tell you how difficult it is for us right now. We’re constantly juggling various parts of our life – we don various masks: a son/daughter, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a sibling, a friend, a student, an employee, a confidant and we’re supposed to make this transition from one role to another seamlessly, without a single trace of the other roles we have stored in our closet. You’re just a kid trying to get started in this world. Does anyone you know really understand the pressures that come with being a student or a fresh employee? No, I’m sure not, instead, “you’re a student. You’re supposed to study” or “You’re working now. Do what everybody else does to survive” is the response from anyone you try to tell otherwise. There it is, I can see it! The slight change in your attitude towards this article – you’re convinced about the lack of interest in society about your academia and, with that, made you realize you’re the clown in a circus. Now, to the best part, why is it funny when you drop the ball – figuratively and literally? It’s clear; it’s because it’s you who did it and not the people laughing at you. We’re all going through the same kind of situations and if there’s someone worse off than me, it means I’m not last and that calls for a celebration. When the clown juggles the balls perfectly, every movement as graceful as that of a ballet dancer and blindfolded, nonetheless, he’s doing something we can’t possibly do; that’s a feeling most people cannot fathom. The moment the clown drops the ball, the audience becomes better than him – one less person to compete with, in this world of constant competition.
Don’t worry, my rainbow-haired, red-nosed, large-shoe wearing friend, you’re not the only clown around. I’m a clown, the person sitting next to you is a clown, and pretty much everyone is or is going to be a clown soon, juggling the various parts of life the best he/she can. All you can do is take off your blindfold, face the crowd, smile and laugh at yourself when the balls are on the floor. And for God’s sake, get those elephants out of this circus – they’re stinking up the place!