Monday, May 28, 2018

Was he bigoted?

A couple of weeks ago, I was in a conversation with a young man who was one with of the top IT firms in Hyderabad. Without batting an eyelid, he declared that men were better than women at managing money because men think and plan for their generation (family) and the future as well, whereas women don't. Against my better instinct, I refrained from rubbing it in, but the proverbial bee remained in my bonnet. Here was a young, responsible (this boy was taking care of him family and saving up for a sister's wedding), well-educated, well-earning man who had such bigoted views. On further reflection, I arrived at the conclusion that he was not intrinsically may be that his education did not allow him to access the narratives of women who were otherwise (for that who could be otherwise as well!) Probably, all he had for consumption were the mainstream images of shallow women manufactured by media houses and films with an eye on box office collections and TRP ratings.And all his education could not destroy the power of such images and tell him that the reality could indeed be far away from the screen! Any thoughts on that????

Friday, May 4, 2018

Of Schools, Dystopian Realities and Mr.G.Neelakantan

One of my neighbour’s joyous exclamation that her toddler
had gained admission into a prominent school (about 20 kilometres away) led me to remember a few incidents that happened while I had been scouting schools for my sons. 

A highly recommended school was about five kilometres away which, to me, was a negotiable distance. However, the day to day affairs were being managed by the personal secretary of the Principal who was ‘missing-in-action’. The prospectus was a cool couple of thousands (school touting ‘prospectus’! ) and there would be a ten-minute interview to classify the tiny tots as ‘normal’ and ‘hyperactive’. Very innocently, I asked if any certified experts would do that and I was shown the door.

At the gate of another prominent school, I was informed by the security to fill up an enquiry form and pay Rs.250 per child before initiating any discussion. In yet another school, the head was nice enough to entertain me for about twenty minutes (it was a newly established school) to claim that the curriculum was drawn from the best practices of CBSE, IGCSE and IB, though they had affiliation for none at that point of time. And who decided on the best practices? I was shown the door yet again.

While at one school I discovered that I would be paying an arm and a leg for international cuisine, I found ‘ayyammas’ surreptitiously devouring food from the snack boxes of pre-primary kids in another. I also saw a school where the toilets did not have proper doors. A friend of mine who found the idea of checking washrooms pretty funny changed her opinion after last year’s incident in the Gurugram school.

The similarity across these schools was nevertheless astounding - in almost all of them (except the one where the ayyammas were eating the food from the snack boxes), the total cost for LKG education for my two sons would have costed me more than I had spent for my entire school education. And at the end of all this, I still had no guarantee that my kids would feel safe. 

The following incidents that happened in the recent times add credence to this — protests by parents in Hyderabad regarding the yearly school fee hike, an 8th grade student committing suicide for not being allowed to write an exam, a child not being allowed to attend classes for wearing the wrong footwear, a group of tiny tots being given TC’s because their parents belonged to a WhatsApp group, a child being mowed down by a school bus, and a child falling into a well in a play school (and the parents thought that their child would be safe there). 

All these incidents, when seen together, reveal two things: despite their well worded intentions and their elevated ‘ethos’, many schools today are sacrificing humanity at the altar of ‘profits’.

Hyderabad is one of the metros where school fees could be the highest (as per some news reports in 2016), and this is more often justified by the infrastructure and of course the ‘snob’ values associated with a particular school. Further, many teachers lack commitment because of two reasons: the monetary compensation is far from motivating, and most of them are not teachers by choice. Therefore, they fall in line with the institutions’ philosophy of running the school either as a resort or as a commercial venture. Some schools resort to in-house training of teachers, the quality of which is often questionable.

Despite the glossy promotional material with the photos of ‘happy kids’ talking about ‘great experiences’, teachers talking about their child-centred pedagogy and globalised curriculum, websites proclaiming qualified and experienced teachers and heads with wide and varied experience, there is a palpable sense that most of the schools today are directionless, rudderless, profit-making enterprises. And this is happening because there is a limited sense of accountability. Even if any exists, governments allow them to be circumvented. 

There is a tragedy waiting to happen — today’s schools are rapidly evolving into dystopian realities. They are rapidly transforming into places where dreams are being defeated… on a daily basis. And no one seems to be concerned. And the situation has become more alarming because schools are now unleashing the most powerful weapon in their arsenal — subtle manipulation. 

One morning, a parent shared that her Grade 2 daughter had written a series of Olympiads. The tiny one didn’t want her mother to talk about her performance and so she hid behind, tugging at her mother and pleading with her to stop the discussion. Oblivious to her daughter’s discomfort, the lady continued talking about how her daughter didn’t do well whereas her cousin in Grade 3 stood first in the school. If you would blame the mother….I would request you to pause and ponder regarding the origin of the mother’s problem. She had obviously seen the online portal of the school where the photos of the toppers were regularly posted. Like many other parents, she was pressurised into enrolling her child for the nerve wracking exams that involve preparation and practice; the parents were expected to train their children with the school’s support being restricted to registering and procuring the preparation material.

Parents who contribute to the school’s initiatives and respond positively to their policies are generally seen as star parents (appreciated during Annual Day/or any other function) whereas a questioning parent is seen as a ‘problem’. Therefore, neither did I raise questions regarding the sensibility of manipulating the tiny tots into writing the Olympiads, nor did I enrol my kids for those tests. In other words, I had developed a thick skin, just like many others. 

At that moment, I could not help but recollect this incident in Chennai. During a parent-teacher meeting, a former colleague of mine told a child’s parents that it was their responsibility to help their grade 2 child learn English at home. Very helpfully, she also suggested that the parents could begin by watching English programs/films and speak to each other in English. There was a problem though — the child was a first generation learner and the parents were vegetable vendors who were working hard to give their child a decent shot at education. In this regard, our prinicipal stated a simple fact to all the teachers - when the kid is in the school 8 hours a day and five days a week, what business does the school have to shove the responsibility of learning onto the parents? That hit a nerve. 

That man was Mr.G.Neelakantan, who was the principal of Sir Sivaswami Kalalaya in 2005. Having worked under his guidance for two years, I have seen him as a true educationist. He would have considered parents as equal stake holders with the school assuming primary responsibility for learning. He would have seen schools as spaces promoting happy learning, not profit-making entities. He would have understood the emotional quotient of children and made sure that they had enough learning experiences to last a lifetime. And he would have done all this without providing an international cuisine or an AC bus. Today, as my children attend school, I wish people like him were around, more particularly in Hyderabad. Then, this tragedy waiting to happen would be nipped in the bud.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Five Reasons on Why I can Relate to 'He Just Sued the Education System'! 

Over the time, I have become a social media recluse for various reasons. Call it the perils of multiple-tasking or whatever, but most of the videos, links, photos and motivational messages sent  to me end up getting cleanly ignored. And that is why on one early morning, many days after a well-meaning friend had shared it with me, seeing the video He just sued the school system turned out to be a revelatory experience.

I could relate to the video at various levels, because personally, it is an affirmation of what I had been experiencing/believing in. The education system in our country is something like the theatre of the absurd. People who matter know what is wrong, but various factors inhibit them from confronting the realities. In other words, we know what the problem is, because refuse to acknowledge and do something about it. Such a 'policy paralysis' often leads to the 'my way is the highway' approach on  various critical aspects regarding educational policy.

For instance, schools do not always encourage inputs/feedback from the parents. In fact, any intervention is seen as being antithetical to the school's 'vision'. For reasons related to privacy, I would not want to dwell into details, but the fact remains that schools do not encourage conversations across the stakeholders regarding syllabi, methodology of teaching etc, and so on. Statements like 'our teachers are trained by international boards' or 'have attended workshops' are enough to bully the them into 'wilful submission'. There was this rather frustrating conversation I once had with a teacher who kept  insisting that a kindergarten child should know how to pronounce the word 'embarrass' and other such complicated words even without comprehending the contextual meaning. This was because the 'other children in the class' are apparently 'able to' and she also darkly hinted at the possibility that if a child is not able to pronounce such words, probably the mother is not taking enough interest in the child's education. The teacher in question had clearly not heard of the concept of 'learning indicators' at various levels and 'differential learning', or her institution was encouraging her to restrict it to the fancy settings of 'workshops' and 'conferences'.

There is one more instance where schools discourage conversations. Processes and procedures are often opaque; this becomes very significant especially when parents are being made to shell out higher amounts of money for accessories like textbooks. I remember an email conversation that I had with a policy maker who was firmly convinced that the expensive foreign publications that they had chosen for their students was the best possible choice given the current scenario. What struck me the most was that the conversation did not acknowledge that they might be willing to reconsider/reevaluate/review their choices based on their experiences. My maid, who is fighting an almost losing battle to educate her children, tells me of instances when she has been issued threats that her children will not be able to write their exams if the 'exam fees' are not paid. And such information is not provided at the beginning of the academic year.

Very often, the teacher is held responsible for the failure of the system. However, as the video points out, much like the children, the teacher is also a victim. In our country, 'teaching' is seen as a convenient vocation for anybody who is not otherwise professionally competent.This may come across as a sweeping generalisation, but most of us who have had experience with the so-called 'international' and 'elite' schools who promise 'child-centered' learning methodologies, and a ' differentiated curriculum' in line with 'global standards' do not have teachers with even basic qualifications in education. How would such teachers understand various aspects involved in 'assessments', 'evaluation' and more importantly 'child psychology'? And this explains their treatment of children. More often than not, the child is seen as a 'client' who needs to be kept happy (parents must also be kept happy), or a 'product' that needs to be churned out from a factory. ('Poultry farm' would have been a more apt metaphor, but I fear to run into areas where angels fear to tread'!) Once,  I was trying to 'crowdsource' the content for an issue-based essay on the validity of praising positive actions as a strategy for teaching. Very astutely, my students pointed out how a false sense of achievement can actually prove to be a impediment on their journey of learning. (Thank heavens that their sense of perceptive insights are still intact!). While catering to learners as 'clients', schools almost inevitably adopt a strategy wherein all the stakeholders are kept happy. Or, depending on the kind of their 'philosophy' or 'vision', they go to the other extreme of treating children like 'robots' who successfully internalise procedures related to processing different sets of instructions with limited scope for innovative or lateral thinking.

Therefore, due to this institutions failure, the teacher almost always becomes the victim. Technological companies hire people with the minimum level of expertise (depending on their requirements) and then train them, as necessary. However, the minimum qualification for the teacher, as it exists in reality, is the ability to communicate. At lower levels of learning, where critical learning skills have to be built and consolidated, specialised qualifications are not even considered. In our system, anyone with a basic degree qualification and the ability to speak good English (maybe, throw in one or two unrecognised and unvalidated training courses) are considered to be good enough to teach. Once they join, teachers find that there there are limited incentives to at least try and enhance their skill set. I was speaking to this former teacher of an elite school a few weeks ago. Based on her personal experience, she had a rather interesting take on the situation - she is earning more from tuitions (one hour in the evening everyday, and she teachers kindergarten learners) than the eight-hour-a-day job that she had been doing. When the pay is low, and the working conditions are close to 'pathetic', there is limited motivation to think and strategise learning sessions from a different, more wholistic and a more relevant perspective. This outlook percolates into everyday modalities like creating materials (worksheets ridden with errors), lack of communication with the stakeholders, the tendency to form quick judgements about learner performance and of course, the lack of motivation to consider each learner as a unique individual.

Further,  in their efforts to fulfil the tag of a 'progressive approach to education', most schools invest in technology related aids and 'smart' classrooms. However, as any experienced educator would point out, such contraptions become effective only if the teacher perceptively understands how to utilise them. Otherwise, they remain emblematic symbols of 'futuristic schools'. Only that schools would be willing to invest in training their teachers in more effective methods of teaching.

So, in my opinion, it is a sense of obduracy and the unwillingness to accept a different point of view which is making educational institutions adopt their 'own' and often 'regressive' strategies to justify their existence. And we, as stakeholders, seem to be content. How else do we explain the fact that we continue to pay ridiculously astronomical amounts for  school education, with minimal intervention by the governments or the policy makers? How else do we explain the fact that today, education is becoming a corporate business with the primary goal being that of achievement in terms of marks and percentages rather than actual practical skills related to the subject(s)? Of late, while returning from work, I see two billboards of a prominent school which shows two blurbs. One blurb has 'London School of Economics' and the other has 'Tata Institute of Social Sciences'. And the message says something to the effect of whether we would want our children to go to the former or the latter institution. Implicit in this question is a challenge thrown - a challenge of standards that nobody will check or verify. And we seem to be buying such a specious argument just because the school's hoarding declares so.

Having said this, have I become cynical about our school education system? Strictly speaking, no. We may not be living in an alternative universe where we can actually put 'school education', as a person, into the witness box. Nevertheless, all around me, I see small changes in the air - people giving up their jobs to pursue full-time degrees in education, volunteering for educational initiatives etc. The other day I was speaking to a parent who was totally invested in her child's education. She was firmly convinced that she needed to distinguish between different types of critical reading skills before she attempted to teach her child reading comprehension. Such instances may be small signs, but significant nevertheless. They keep assuring me that while there are larger battles to be fought in a larger court, indeed there are smaller ones that can be won!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Sting and the Slap

This is one incident which will never fade away from my memory...I was told about this by a friend of mine. This was her experience. She verbalised it and contextualised it. But I remained troubled by it. Many a time in the past couple of years, I had to prevent myself from writing about it. But somehow, the pain of the child and the mother felt very real to me. The best way I could deal with it was by writing about it. I often wondered however - what was preventing me from doing so? Is it because, we never acknowledge this? Do we choose to look the other way? Or, do we dress it up in words that dismiss the true significance of such things? A child running towards a kite was stopped by a famous person. He had felt slighted that the child had not responded to his hugs and wanted to 'discipline' him. My friend could not reach immediately because this was a family gathering. But before she realised, things had happened. Whatever, in the midst of an otherwise mundane day, with me achieving practically nothing of value, I found my release.

His tiny mind,
Only five and a half,
Had never felt ever,
A stinging slap.

So, he was surprised
For a split second,
Coz he hadn't seen
That slap coming.

His eyes started filling,
As one tear trickled down.
But the boy in him,
Stood his ground.

Fighting back the tears he
Searched as far as he could see.
Only to notice his mother
As stunned as he'd been.

He felt the slap,
She felt the sting,
How, he didn't know but
They were both crying.

He could feel himself,
Being picked up by his mother.
And heard an angry retort,
Being given to that famous doctor.

He had seen a kite
And wanted to see it fly,
So he'd been running
Towards the terrace all excited.

But this man so famous,
Had held him back,
Had wanted to hug him
To show him he was the boss.

He had resisted,
And wanted to break free.
But the man had felt insulted
And slapped him on his cheek.

Was it wrong to run,
Behind a kite, he wondered
Why wouldn't his aunt
Or his grandmother tell?

The man had indeed slapped.
But more devastating,
Was the silence of the people,
Continuing with their 'pretending'.

The mother held the child
And silently exited the place.
Suffering all the while
The hurt they had to face.

Almost two years hence
The child forgot the slap.
But the mother remembers
The sting of that hostile act.

That day she lost
Her trust in her family
That day she started
Distrusting everybody.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Of Bards more than one - An evening with Tagore and Gulzar

Recently, I read an article regarding research conducted on reading habits of people sent across by a well-meaning individual. The title of the article was pretty incidental I suppose: What you read matters more than what you might think. One observation that caught my fancy was the following statement: 'When volunteers read their favourite poems, areas of the brain associated with memory were stimulated more strongly than "reading areas," indicating that reading poems you love is the kind of recollection that evokes strong emotions - and strong emotions are always good for creative writing.'

Where do Tagore and Gulzar fit into all this?

I had always felt that poetry just...happens! Poetry is a single arresting thought, or a combination of thoughts, which searches for the apt words. I must admit that due to geographical and language-related factors, my knowledge of Tagore was mostly restricted to The Gitanjali and the short story The Cabuliwallah. Selections from his magnum opus and the quintessential story would always appear in English textbooks and supplementary readers and hence, I was 'too familiar' with them. However, every single time I went back to the story of the Cabuliwallah I had often wondered about the genius of a story-teller who could fill a simple narrative with such poignancy and emotion. I had often wondered, how he would have made Mini narrate this same story.

My knowledge of Gulzar was even more less. I faintly remembered that he had something to do with Bollywood cinema, and felt woefully ignorant. While waiting for the traffic jam to clear up, I quickly googled him, only to realise that the corpus of creative work done by this man beats anybody's imagination.

Listening to Gulzar only confirmed my assessment about poetry. He delved into his memories to recollect the incident that had led him towards an exploration of Tagore's works. And throughout the conversation during the book launch, his emphasis was on how Tagore was much more than the Nobel prize winning work, or the ubiquitous short story. Tagore was a poet who spoke to generations. And where better to find this Tagore, than in his poetry?

As I heard Gulzar reciting selections from Tagore's poetry, through the rhythm of sound, the depth of imagery and the precision of detailing, I felt myself being transported into very specific worlds quintessentially arrested in the stillness of time: the worlds of a bride who is being exhorted by her mother-in-law to answer the door and invite the 'guest', the child who brings alive a gripping tale of adventure and bravery, or a child who fancies himself to be a grown-up, like his Dada. . Yet, they were communicating a volume of meaning. They were almost like touchstones of human perceptions of everyday life.

While Tagore's achievement had been to arrest such moments and preserve them for an eternity, Gulzar's feat has been to render the translations in such a precise manner without sacrificing the rhythm for the meaning. His recitation managed to evoke pretty strong emotions; so much that I clapped with great gusto when Gulzar concluded a poem on a child's conversation with his mother with a sweet, ironic twist, suggesting that the child was aware about his make-believe world. 

For me, the greatest takeaway of the evening was the realisation that there is more to Tagore than The Gitanjali and his novels. And there is more to Gulzar than his movies. Further, I found myself nodding in agreement to his suggestion that Tagore's poems, especially those on children, have to be made accessible to children. These poems which foreground children and their narratives offer us precise but pertinent perspectives on how children think and imagine. A quick look at our current system (s) of education will show that the odds are stacked against the development of EQ (emotional quotient) as opposed to IQ. And where better to begin the process of change than with poetry. These are the readings that would trigger strong emotions and hence better creativity.

As Gulzar, in his sonorous voice transported us into lands and time far removed from the cold comfort of the air-conditioned hall that we were sitting in, I could not help but reflect that this was an evening well-spent with bards more than one!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dear Ma'am, my twins haven't completed their Holiday Homework!

The following post is more of a funny take on the notion of Holiday Homework. It is a heady mix of fact and fiction, and hence, depends more on drama to laugh and ponder over something.

Dear Ma'am

Today, at 1 am, I woke up with a start. SR and SB have not finished their holiday homework, and their school reopens TODAY!  I am sure that you are going to judge them on the completion of their holiday homework, and hence, am 'petrified'! I am very sorry, but...please don't pull up my twins for my tardiness. The fault is all mine.

I tried my best. After all, which mother does not want to be acknowledged as a supermom by her child's class teacher? But, I was kind of taken aback by the two pages of work, which according to your estimate, could be completed in 30 days. This scared the *&;^% out of me and I lost all interest and excitement.  And, at this unearthly hour,  I am wondering whether that was a smart move. Because, ultimately, homework is the yardstick that you will use to measure my achievement as a mom, and my twins' achievement as learners.

You stated that 'summer is a time for taking a break from regular academics' and 'is the time to relax, unwind and have some fun'. However, you were concerned about a 'learning gap' that could possibly occur, and hence were so thoughtfully assigning this work. Pray ma'am, what 'learning gap' are we talking about when a child is entering 'grade 1'? Further, much of the HW that you had assigned was drawn from the textbooks and workbooks assigned for grade 1.

One thing became very obvious to me. You have very high expectations for SB and SR, and other kids like them. Let us see what those expectations are: 'learning an entire song in Hindi' (you have very thoughtfully linked up a youtube video which looked quite garish. SR was positively freaked out), writing the sources of water on an A4 sheet of paper (I couldn't see any reason why an entire A4 size sheet should be wasted for that, so, in an apparent act of 'deviation', I just showed them another garish video that you had linked. I didn't make them write. Incidentally, you have yourself pointed out to SR and SB on so many occasions that paper must not be wasted).

You had very thoughtfully told them to learn a song, poem and a story in their mother tongue. I am sorry, but my knowledge of singing is very limited. And as of now, SB and SR seem to be sharing a similar trait. But they do talk in their mother tongue, and can understand the language. If that was your intention in assigning this task, then by all means, they have achieved it.

On an earlier instance, you had insisted that children 'assimilate' a lot of 'vocab' and hence, they need to be exposed to all kinds of words. I tried reasoning with you, pointing out that expecting a UKG kid to spell and recognise the word 'embarrass' without even understanding the complexity of meaning and the phonetic structure is a tall order. In a single stroke, you just homogenised all kids and stated,  'Other kids are able to do it. Only SR and SB are not able to do it' suggesting in a sinister way that maybe, I was responsible.  With all humility I submit that, without your wise and educated interventions, it took me around 30 minutes to teach my sons the contrasting pronunciation between words like  'this' and 'thin' and then, sort such words into groups. At the end of which, both the parties concerned were equally frustrated. Maybe I don't know English. Or maybe,...I am not a good teacher.

One good thing that happened as a result was that I travelled back in time and recollected my own summer vacations while at primary school. It was a time that I had enjoyed and looked forward to. I made the decision that my sons would do the same.

Though you had not assigned any art and craft work, my twins painted one picture every possible day. I have collected them carefully. Would you like to see those pictures? (I am sure that you very 'thoughtfully' didn't assign such work because, you didn't want SR and SB to paint the walls of our house with their creative output. The damage is already done ma'am:-))

SR and SB learnt how to hold on to the tea filter securely (while an elder pours out the tea) which is actually a demonstration of their fine motor skills. Would you like to see that ma'am?

SR and SB learnt how to build a lego car. It took them three days, with the assistance of their nanny, to follow a manual and complete this task. You may say that it is mechanical and does not endow them with the halo of academic brilliance that you expect, but yes, they did group the lego pieces, interpreted the various steps of assembling from the manual, and finally built a car. I am sure that those skills also figure somewhere on the objectives listed out under Bloom's taxonomy.

My sons learnt and recalled the various landmarks in and around the place that we stay, and of course, learnt a few more things about passenger trains. This is because, we have to pass along a railway track every time we go out.  Do you want to ask them how to identify a Shatabdi, a Duronto, a passenger, a goods and a MMTS train? They will surprise you. (Why do I get a feeling that you won't ask? Incidentally, this can be classified under spatial intelligence.)

SR and SB learned to identify how different categories of groceries and products are arranged in a supermarket. They spelt out the words on the signboards and tried to help me locate the products that I wanted to buy.  (Of course, I had to give them their jellies and Cadbury Gems as a reward). I had the pleasure of watching them evolve into these 'angels' who helped me with everything that their tiny hands could carry.

During this vacation, SR learnt how to clean vegetables with a piece of clean cloth and sort them out into different environment friendly bags so that they can be stored in the refrigerator. SB learnt how to arrange his toys back into his cupboard so that the door closes completely.(This was a major issue earlier!)

SR understood that his grandmother was undergoing a surgical procedure for her eyes, while SB understood the importance of dental hygiene (especially after losing two teeth. The chap now brushes his teeth every night before going to sleep. Experience is indeed great teacher!)

The list goes on ma'am, but I get the feeling that I have lost you somewhere in the first couple of paragraphs

I am not sorry that you will not read this. I am not sorry that you will not see the value of 'experiential learning'. I am not sorry that you will still insist on the power of the written word, the spoken story and the song that is sung.

I am only sorry that in your enthusiasm to avoid a 'learning gap' during the summer vacation, you will judge my sons by their ability to complete the tasks that you have assigned. I am sorry that you will not see what they have actually 'learned'. And,...they are going to be with you for this entire academic year, and hence, I am scared.

I'm afraid my twins haven't completed their holiday homework. I assure you ma'am, the fault is entirely mine!

Your truly
An anxious mother

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Blast from the Past! A Magical Pair of Glasses

A dear soul had sent these birthday wishes 6 years ago, one of the most thoughtful and well-written lines. I often wonder how long it took to write these words. And every day that I read them, it is a new day, with a new pair of glasses (or lenses???)

Over a period of time, the colour of the glasses may have changed (as yours truly graduated from a frustrated research scholar into a academic and a mother), but the words have not lost their meaning. So, here we go, I post them once again:

A Birthday wish

As you add yet another year of experience
To your quiver called LIFE,
I wish for you a new pair of glasses -
A magical pair - that lets you see
The world a bit differently -

Where troubles look like opportunities
And problems are challenges!
Where while accounting for mounting liabilities
You realize that your assets balance them off.
For after all - accounting is all about Balancing, na?

Where while projecting the anguish of characters
From the novels you read, on to your own life,
You realize that you are scripting your own novel,
To be read by others and all of life is just a drama.
And the more you laugh at your own novel, the more you enjoy it.

Have a nice day and a wonderful year ahead

PS: I added another year this year... and can only sigh at all those ebooks that I downloaded, hoping to read sometime, and all those novels and plays gathering dust on my bookshelf, which I had hoped to reread sometime.