Only to come to the conclusion, that education, as we know it today, has nothing to do with anything.
Three true stories.
T was born in the very early part of the 20th century, and married off at 13 to a widower, whose children were almost her age. She later had 2 children. This was the time, many educated folks retired and came to settle down in Pune around the time India got her independence. Her family and another family who they were friends with, thought it was a good idea to link to the two with a matrimonial alliance, and her son was married off to the friend's daughter, who was, unusual for those days, a graduate, and even more unusual, quite independent minded. Grandchildren happened and T lived for many years after her husband passed away, in a huge house with both her sons and their families, in separate households, respecting each others religious and other sentiments. When her eldest grandson went abroad to do his post graduation, naturally he became a prized catch in the eyes of folks with eligible daughters, a few years later.
Mind you, T was someone who still followed some very old customs. She was totally untouchable when she was wearing a "sowla" or her puja/worship clothes. You could do what you wanted in your own house, but in her house, you didn't participate in anything on what were considered monthly impure days. However, she, with hardly any education, a restrictive controlled married life, and an early life where she was neither seen nor heard, was quick to see how girls were getting a great benefit from school, sports, and participation in many activities , and never stopped her grandchildren from anything. Many years later, when someone ribbed her about whether her grandson in the US would possibly return with a "white" (read golden hair and wearing a frock) bride, she told them she had complete confidence in her grandson and the values he had imbibed from his mother and father, and she would welcome , such a wife, if needed, with an aarti, and present her with a typical wedding silk sari. I blogged about it here in a post that questioned culture and moral policing. Hardly any education, very very conservative behaviour patterns in her husband's house, and she still learned, how to move judiciously with the times.
B, someone closer to my age, who came from an upwardly mobile, hardworking, educated family, was himself encouraged to attend high school in the US for a year on an exchange program and made many lifelong friends. He returned to help his father expand their business, acquired a doctorate, had an arranged marriage with a very nice , well educated girl from the same community, and they had a son. Naturally, he paid great attention to is son's education (like his father before him), and his son too went overseas , and excelled at his given field of study, with a doctorate and returned home. He started working outside to acquire some actual expertise and met a very nice girl, and decided to marry her. The problem was that she was of another caste, although a Hindu. The parents were fairly upset. This wasn't about just the bride and groom, but two families being linked. The father poured his heart out to his great friend in the US ( an American who had lived in India) , because he had to talk to someone he considered close. Email after email.
But they never lost communication with their son. One fine day, they sat him down , told him their misgivings and feelings about his intended bride, and asked him to think it over seriously for a few days, and get back to them. The son respected their wishes. All conversations and discussions happened , with no acrimony, accusations, whatever. A few days later, he got back to them. He understood where they were coming from, he respected their thinking, but he was very very firm about who he would marry, and it was the girl he worked with.
What happened next was amazing. The parents had come to a conclusion after weeks of agonizing. They implicitly trusted their son and he respected them. On hearing his decision, his parents looked at each other, and his mother got up to say, that , "OK. We welcome a new daughter into our house !" .....The wedding took place with great celebration and fanfare a few years ago.
R, someone I know, has a daughter of marriageable age. As is the custom in a society, where systems for social interactions like dating etc are yet to become customary, most folks become a data entry point in a portal where eligible girls and boys with all the relevant family career et al details are mentioned. There isn't anything that you could point fingers at, in R's daughter's case; except that she is an adopted child, and most folks who intellectually applaud that, simply runaway when personally faced with it.
One fine day, she (R's daughter) , gets a message on a social networking site from someone who has searched her on a portal, and taken the trouble to contact her because he found her interesting. They communicate, they exchange numbers, Skype each other. There appeared to be a lot of laughter, which R thought was an encouraging sign.
Then one day he mentioned about a horoscope. R's daughter doesn't have one , because her birth time isn't known for obvious reasons, and she tells him so. For some reason he asks her blood group. Turns out they both have the same. He continues to call and talk about his future plans, his family and so on and so forth. Then one day he asks to speak to R. He says he will be showing R's daughter's profile to his folks, and they would get back to him. R has a decent conversation with him, is impressed .
One night, R is watching some music program on TV, when her daughter comes in, wildly gesticulating saying she is wanted on the phone. Intrigued, R goes in to answer the phone. It's the guy. He is very polite, very civil, calls her aunty and everything, and says he has just heard from his folks, and his mother objects because, believe it or not, these two, R's daughter and this fellow have the same blood group ! He apologizes, and asks he if and the daughter can still be friends. R says its up to her daughter.
A travesty of education, this. The mother rules the roost in his house. Either all of them are completely confused about blood groups , or they think R is stupid. A family which prides itself on well educated sons, an educated father, possibly a not so educated mother. The mother decrees what is clearly a fake reason, and the son, a science student, in an analytical well paying job, blindly, gutlessly passes it on, without thinking.
Similar blood groups are never a problem. Rh factors being different sometimes cause problems at the time of childbearing, for which medical solutions exist. But who cares. The matriarch has decreed in the year 2011, that "matching blood groups is a no-no and the devoted son , stands to attention, and passes on the message.
R counts till 10. Idiomatically. Takes a deep breath, and tells the guy, "Thank you for informing us. Appreciate that you took the time to call. But you know what, we people are guided by our blood groups too. My daughter and I are both B +ve. And we follow that tenet. We always tell each other, "Be positive"......Interesting na ?"
There is no reply.
So many sons of so many mothers. Through the ages. The older ones never went to school, but imbibed and absorbed "education", as their sons went out into the world. And then this mother is 2011. And a son, who, despite his degrees, and stuff, makes a mockery of the word, "education", preferring to propagate untruths.
To people, who he thinks are as "uneducated" as he is.
And incidentally, to hell, with a young girl's mind....
And then I sit down and wonder, whether we as a society are actually improving .....