My beef with all of this exists on so many levels, but on the most primal, selfish level: I’m almost resentful that my parents hadn’t gone through this transition, allowing me to be born and raised with a silver spoon. I know this sounds self-centred, but I’m only bringing all of this up now because of a conversation I had with my mom yesterday.
Out of nowhere, we began talking about the (now in)famous Kaavya Viswanathan, who I’d only heard-of after the plagiarism stuff popped-up on google news. Yes, I admit that chancing upon one relatively cute picture of her had something to do with me being aware of the sequence of events. Anyway, in a sort of self-congratulatory elitist statement, my mom was all, “You know, when the [good] news about her first broke out, we were all singing praises as to her Brahmin buddhi” (supposed intellect of the “Brahmin class”), “How a kid so young could be in Harvard and an established author.”
You know what? Newsflash—She isn’t particularly anything. She didn’t even need to try. Any kid in a half-decent household from that part of the world with a modicum of intelligence can achieve all this, without plagiarism, because consciously or unconsciously, Indian kids will be nudged by their parents to do well in the intellectual realm. In comparison to what’s deemed important in the average household here, Indian homes just have a different priority structure.
During all of this, I had to distract myself to keep from screaming, “Don’t you see that the stories she wrote were about a kid who’d made it into a top school but was unhappy socially? That her dad had to invent a social life and they lied on the admissions forms to get her admitted in the first place?”
That’s—unfortunately or otherwise—just the way it is. These kids aren’t confused; they’re extremely fortunate. They don’t have to be a freaking geniuses. Just freaking born here, after their parents have done all the hard work.
Postscript: Notice how, in a single article, I expressed both resentment toward my parents’ choices and jealously toward my unborn kids. Pretty daedal, if I do say so myself.