Making it to Law School is fairly easy, I guess. Wish coming up with an answer to WHY you chose to join Law School in the first place were just as easy, too. For many people, it is either corporate law pay packages or civil services. For others it could be litigation or research. As for me, well…I actually spend a lot of my time wondering precisely what business I have here.
Although I’m at Law School, writing was always my first love. I guess it started when I was 12. That’s when I consciously realized that writing is a great way of letting emotions out. It was basically a final stamp of approval on something I had known all through. I just started writing random musings about my day in a diary, and discovered what a feeling of accomplishment writing gave me.
Cut to the year 2009-my class XII exams had just got over and I declared that I wanted to pursue English honors from the DU. I had passed my ISC with a decent 94.25%, and was reasonably sure of getting a good enough DU college. What I hadn’t imagined was how heavy a burden this would become for me. Everyone was like, “94.25% in the science stream, and you still won’t do engineering? Come on, you can. You must be really good at it, or you would never have done this well…blah blah blah. What they didn’t realize was; the question was never whether I could or couldn’t, it was always whether I wanted to or not. No one gave a damn about that.
This had been the last of my innumerable attempts against being made to take up engineering; but like my earlier remonstrances, this one had also been quelled through a series of arguments ranging from maturity, practicality, sensibility, comparisons with batch mates who had qualified- to downright emotional blackmail. I remember crying over this incessantly for three weeks, but to no avail. I was sent to engineering preparation institutes anyway.
I never really focused on my work at the coaching: my scores were always deplorable, the pile of undone assignments was getting thicker with every passing week…I felt suffocated, helpless, hollow, numb. There were times when I was overwhelmed with guilt, because I was not being fair to science. I had always appreciated the ruthless austerity, precision and cold purity of science, but it was never my passion. Writing was what I had always loved, and for me, nothing came even close to the thrill I experience on imagining my name on the spine of a book that had my words in print: my thoughts, my plots, my characters and my dialogues.
While studying, I always thought of what I could do in half the time, with half the effort and double the enjoyment…and it brought to me a stab of unendurable agony, of wistfulness and desperate longing…I had never run away from hard work. Only, I couldn’t see where I was headed-where this hard work would lead me. I did not want to slave away for something that wasn’t even remotely consistent with what I actually wanted to do in life. It didn’t make sense to spend the prime years of my life doing something I didn’t give a damn about, just because that was what everyone believed to be worthwhile. I always wondered precisely who this “everyone” was, and why it was so important to pursue what had conventionally been THE most coveted. But I never found satisfactory answers to these questions. In trying to figure out what was expected of me and living up to what people wanted me to be, I was losing sight of the person I wanted to be.
Then came December 2010. It took 3 idiots and one movie to convince my parents about what I had been trying to tell them all along. When we came home after watching that movie, they asked me, very seriously, whether I would like to give up engineering. Disbelief and shock shot through me. I don’t even remember saying yes; I only remember running to my room and sobbing uncontrollably. I had never felt so relieved in my entire life. Unfettered…eventually. Or so I had thought.
Nothing could have prepared me for the apprehension that that initial euphoria gave way to. For almost the entire January, February and March, I had to grapple with people telling me I was crazy, and with my own uncertainty. Venturing into the unexplored, the unfamiliar…it can never be easy. I knew I didn’t want to do engineering, but was Law the right thing for me? Will it be challenging and stimulating enough? Further, was I so sure that I wouldn’t miss science at all? Science, that unlike Law, was so unbiased, so pure, so rational, so concrete? Had I chosen wisely? Every moment, every day was replete with its own set of doubts, trepidations, fears…there were times when I used to second-guess every single rationale of mine; wishing that I were anyone but who I was, and anywhere but where I was.
Gradually these pangs of confusion did subside, but they still haven’t gone away completely. Everything in life involves risk. It is our task to decide which risks are worth taking. Amidst all this confusion and hysteria, something never fails to give me peace: reading and writing.
At the end of the day, I think it won’t be so much about the choices I made as it would be about what I made of those choices. Probably I’ll never be sure that this decision of mine was absolutely right. In fact even now that I’m here at Law School, there are times when I wonder whether I would have been better off doing English honors…particularly when things here don’t look all that promising. Then I remind myself that Law may not be directly relevant to what I want to do; but the skills that I acquire while I’m about it will be indispensable. I’m so grateful for these moments- when I feel that I’m doing what I was born to do. These rare moments of ecstasy are well worth the intermittent phases of boredom and inactivity. I’ve done away with what was superfluous. I’m doing what’s consistent with my passion.
I believe Law will be of help because most of my writing will deal with ethical conundrums, morality and legality of issues. Also,it will be an excellent background to have when I take up Journalism, seeing as we do a substantial amount of Political Science, Economics, and Sociology too.I don’t know what other genres of writing I’ll explore, but I know I’ll definitely write such stuff; even if simply to justify my legal education. I know that when I finally do make financial success of my writing, the thrill is going to be unrivalled. The value of that money will be far greater than what any corporate firm can pay me in return for draining the life out of me. My achievements won’t be discoveries, inventions, theorems or complex scientific formulae. They won’t be something as concrete as buildings or machines. But they will be very much there.
This could be a reminder to all those facing a similar dilemma as I did (and possibly do) that your degree can only take you so far. What you choose to do with it is entirely up to you.
Batch of 2015,
NALSAR University of Law.