This is the story of Bhuvanesh Shastri, who is a Marketing Consultant in Mumbai. Bhuvanesh shared the horrors he had gone through while studying at the Narayana Junior College.
I studied my intermediate (11th & 12th) from Narayana Junior College – K&C Bakery Branch in Hyderabad. It was known as the K&C Branch because our college was right above the bakery and there were at least 4 to 5 Narayana Colleges within 2 KM of the radius – every branch independent to others.
Every year Narayana students would secure the state’s top AIEEE ranks; the reason it was a popular choice amongst the parents.
It was a rotten hell. My campus had around 1000+ students shoved into 12 classrooms, with 80+ students each. The college only had four floors, including the ground floor, and that’s pretty much of it. Because of the lack of space, we weren’t supposed to be outside our classrooms during recesses and lunches.
The college only offered MPC course (Maths, Physics & Chemistry) with a mandatory AIEEE/IIT coaching. There were six sections in our batch and students were divided according to their percentage in a way that the first two sections were filled with people with 90% +.
The college timing was from 8:00 AM to 5:40 PM. But at 5:40 PM every day, a Junior Lecturer would enter our classroom and would ask us to write a test. Even if we knew all the answers, it would take at least 1 hour to give that test, and the papers were checked right there before we could leave for home. In case we couldn’t score satisfactory marks, the Junior Lecturer would ask us to give a retest there itself. The best-case scenario was that we could leave the college by 6:40, and the worst was 8:00 PM.
On every Saturday and Monday, we had weekly tests, the results of which were directly mailed/texted to our parents. The college had 90% + attendance every day because the day a student would miss a college, our Junior Lecturer would call the parents and scare them that the student is not performing in the class and they were good at it. I had a very strong bond with my dad before my 11th, but our relationship took a low because he was scared that I would fail in my exams.
I was stuck in my classroom for 11 hours every day, and I would reach my home at around 8:00 pm. I was scoring badly in my weekly tests because I couldn’t take the pressure and my uncle wanted me to take extra tuitions for Chemistry. My parents were upset about my performance, and I couldn’t share my problems with them. One day I decided that I would go to my neighbours’ terrace and jump off of the building.
I couldn’t do it because I was too scared. But there was a junior of mine who did! He cut his wrist in college washroom because he couldn’t take the pressure. We were asked to leave our college immediately. Next day everything went back to normal. Fortunately, he survived. In the same year, there was another student from different campus who couldn’t survive his suicide attempt. By then, I knew I wasn’t the only one in the situation. In Hyderabad, one student commits suicide every 55 minutes.
People would usually argue that despite these tough situations, the Narayana would still secure top ranks, so maybe the college is not that bad. But the truth is, no! At the beginning of every year, Narayana would take top 10 students from every campus, based on their performance. These star students would be shifted to another campus, where they would get highly qualified teachers. This star batch becomes a marketing hook for 200 junior colleges across the state where the quality of education is horrible.
Narayana would make the students rote learn the subjects, including subjects like maths. No one wanted to stay late in college, but since everyone had tests, they would rote learn the topic rather than actually understanding it. Everyone scored well in their report cards, but in reality, we didn’t know a thing.
Wonder how we passed our practical examination? By college-sponsored cheating. The practical tests were conducted within our campus in the presence of an external invigilator. On the day of the examination, our college principal would enter the classroom and take the external invigilator for “breakfast”. My class’ junior lecturer would enter our class and pass chits to us. Irrespective of findings and experiments – everyone secured good marks in their practical examinations.
It happened the same way every time for everyone, and we knew this is how it’s going to be because our seniors passed their practical examinations in the same way.
The Way Forward…
The two dreadful years in Narayana made me realise that I was not meant for engineering. I found my heart in Journalism and Communication studies and it took me a year to convince my family that I want to pursue my career in arts.
I later pursued BA Mass Communications as my under graduation and this happened to be the best decision in my life.
Post my under graduation, I got into Xaviers Institution of Communication Mumbai, one of the finest institutions in the country for communication studies. My parents flew down to Mumbai for my graduation day and they were proud of what I had achieved.
That day I realised life is beyond the small phases we live – if I had jumped off the building that day, I wouldn’t have gotten into Xaviers, I wouldn’t have started the consulting business that I have now and my parents wouldn’t be proud of me the way they are now. Suicide wasn’t the answer to my problems, facing the situation was.
Paulo Coelho once said in his book, the darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn. Its something I have always wished for my self and I wish it for everyone who is going through a difficult phase in their life.
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