On 24th April 1998, just before midnight, the mother of a four year old who had been due for the 3rd of May, felt like her second child was ready to enter the world, but her father in-law, who had been among the most honourable physicians of the day, declared it to be false pain. When the situation got serious, she was finally admitted, and gave birth to a boy, which was much to the fascination of her father in-law, who, now having two grandchildren, could foresee at least one of them becoming a doctor in the future.
The boy was named Siddhant, and was the newest addition to the Passey family. I must admit that I had a very safe, and secure childhood, much like the dream of most. My father, Dr Rajiv Passey, who had given his very last exam on the 24th, a day before my birth, was on the verge of a successful career in cardiology. I have learnt a lot from him in the 15 years and 2 months of my existence, but I shall come to that later. My mother, Dr Sarita Passey had been teaching organic chemistry for the past 4 years and has become a well honoured associate professor today.
She has been not only an inspiration, but has inculcated in me various things about life on this planet. My brother, Rohan Passey, who is almost five years elder to me, was in the same school as I between 6th and 12th standard and is now doing electronics and instrumentation engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani. While both my parents tell me continuously that I have taken after only his worst qualities, I believe that is not true, and he has been one of the most exemplifying characters of my life.
I have always been told that I am a bit more aware for my age, whether in terms of football knowledge, or just knowing the exact specifications of all the popular smart phones available, and I accredit that to my brother. Breaking a stereotype I must say, I have very few distinguished memories of my grandfather. One of the oldest distinct memory that I possess is of my first day at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya. Of course, that was the day when I met some of the people who are my closest friends today, but I also remember that I became friends with a person in the bus who was a year older to me and over the year, we grew extremely close.
But when the next session of school started I did not see him in the bus. I was told that his father had been transferred from Delhi, and hence he had changed schools. I feel very ashamed at myself today that I cannot even remember his name, but the lesson I learnt then is that sometimes you have to let go of things, whether they be an intangible aspect like friendship, or a tangible thing like my first guitar, which I do not possess anymore, more on that later. In 2002, when I was 4 years old, we got our first computer, and that I started playing the game Fifa 2002.
As usual, it was just an imitation of what my brother used to do. This game holds immense importance in my life as it was only through this game that I developed a liking/fancy for football, the sport which has become a very crucial/momentous aspect of my life today. While playing Fifa, I used to remember the names of all the players and teams, and at that time, an Italian team, AC Milan became my favourite, and its star striker, Andriy Shevchenko, my favourite player. This was the first time when I dreamed about my future, seeing myself as a football star which is in no way the situation anymore.
But I get ahead of myself. I supported AC Milan till 28 May 2006, when Shevchenko left Milan for Chelsea, one of the clubs I am least fond of even today, and I had to find a new club. It was then that I started supporting a Spanish club, FC Barcelona. While everybody sought out Ronaldinho as their best player, my favourite player was a 19 year old, Lionel Messi. I even remember having written an article in creative writing calling him my idol, and believing that one day he would become the world’s best player.
This part about football might seem irrelevant, but football has become such a significant part of my life that I couldn’t have possibly written an autobiography without including it. Being a student of Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, I did not have to face the dreadfulness of exams till class 6th. I sometimes feel that lack of examinations may possibly be the reason why I remember so less about my studies before class 6th. About a year ago, while cleaning my room, I found a few books of class 5 as well as class 6.
While I could remember the exact class for most of the science chapter of class 6th, I could barely do the same for the class 5 book. It might seem a little odd, but I think the only possible explanation for this occurring is that I did not really care much about my studies till I entered class 6th, which I feel is a good thing, because my early childhood was a time of great fun! It was only when I got to class 6th that I really started to give much attention to my studies. I must admit it, I was haunted by the idea of examinations.
I recall having once asked my parents how they used to rank in their class during school, only to hear that they both had always come in the top three. I knew by looking at his report cards, that the situation of my brother was more or less the same. I do not know whether it was just a case of extreme fascination coupled with fear of not being able to match to my parents’ standards in examination, but I could not stop thinking about the idea of exams till I actually gave my first exam.
I got full marks in Mathematics, and came second in my section (I got to know my rank only after asking most others their percentages). I can say for sure that I would have been very delighted at that point of time. After giving a couple more exams, I came to the conclusion that it would be very difficult to remember each and every thing that I study so hard on, and since I did not want all my efforts to go waste, I decided I would make notes after every exam on whatever possibly I could have done better.
And now that I take my watch to every exam and start preparing early etc. , this idea could fairly be responsible for the rise in my percentage. I had been introduced to the idea of competitive exams at middle school level by my brother, and the thought was reinforced when my best friend Pratyush told me about the various exams organised by the Science Olympiad Foundation including the National Science Olympiad (NSO) and International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO). Our school did not organise it for classes below 6th so I gave both of them for the first time that very year.
I did not prepare very hard for the exam and hence got a very average result, and that was when I asked my brother as well as Pratyush for some tips regarding such exams, and when I was selected for the Ramanujan exam in class 7th, I prepared hard this time and ended up securing a bronze medal from among all students of Delhi /NCR. It was around this time that I first heard about the National Talent Search Exam (NTSE) which was held for class 8th and is considered to be the most prestigious exam at school level.
I was very excited to give the exam when I heard about the scholarship it offers and thought I would study for the next whole year, the way I had studied about a month before the previous exams I had given in my school. It was as if time flew when I found myself having finished the class 8th first semester exams, with about two months to go for the first (state) level of NTSE. I told my father- who had always been an important guide in all types of studies- that I felt it was too late and asked him whether it was worth it for me to start preparing now.
At that time he told me, and I quote ‘It is never too late’. That line gave me the inspiration to go for it and study for the next two months with all my might. I gave the first level of the exam and got ranked 42nd among the 50 students selected from Delhi. I was told that if I had qualified the first level from Delhi, it was very unlikely for me to not get selected in the second level. Even then, I had some amount of fear in myself, but I gathered all the determination in myself confidently gave the 2nd level as well as I could have possibly given it.
When the results came out, all three of the students from our school who had qualified in the first level, including me and Pratyush, got selected. I ranked highest from our school and 95th All India, among the 1000 students selected for scholarship. I had never seen my parents more proud of me than when I gave them this news. I even remember seeing a tear in my mothers’ eye, but I guess I am too young to comprehend her feelings at that point. Between the first and second level of NTSE, I also gave the Aryabhatta exam and came first from our school and among the top 50 from Delhi.
During these long hours of studies, my concentration was often broken by daily bhajans from the mandir right next to our house. Also, our tip to Vaishno devi in 2008 was not exactly a good experience. There were about 20 of us, and we had planned on going up to the mandir by a helicopter and when all of us except for a family friend had reached, it was announced that the next flights had been cancelled due to the development of a storm, and eventually he had to come up on horseback. We had to travel all the way up to the mandir and then back in the heaviest storm I have seen in my life.
These two incidents along with the general inclination towards the almighty in the Indian society made me wonder about his existence. I had been taught the Hanuman Chalisa by my mother and recently my mother had taught me to recite the following lines whenever I need God to help me: ‘Nam Myoho Renge Kyo’ She had been taught this by my Maasi, who had recently taken to Buddhism as a second religion. These two things have always helped me in life and I would always thank God after every exam I passed, or after the smallest of things in which I had asked for his help.
So, after going through hundreds of videos on Youtube, and having questioned my maasi a number of times, I came to the conclusion that there will never be a scientific proof for the presence or absence of God. We can only form our own opinion about the Almighty. And I personally believe that there is a God out there who does everything for a reason. The reason might seem to be adverse for some people at first, but it always has a much greater ‘good’ attached with it. A recent lesson learning event in my life was related to football.
I have supported Barcelona ever since, and it was a dream come true when my father told me we are going to Spain for our trip this very year. Before going to the trip, my father arranged for the tickets of a match that was going to be held in Barcelona. I had never been so excited in my life than when I heard my father give me this amazing news. We first went to Madrid, and we visited the whole museum present in the stadium of Barcelona’s rival club, Real Madrid. I was obviously excited thinking that we would visit the museum of the club that I fancy the most as well.
But when we got to Barcelona, I realised that there was no time left at all for us to visit the museum. The only day possible was the day of the match, but my father rejected my pleas as the family we had come with (my bua’s family) had thought of it as a day of rest. When finally the day arrived, it rained very heavily, and in no way would it have been possible for us to visit the museum. That day I realised that one cannot have everything, and one needs to stay content with what one has. I went to the match that day and enjoyed it more than anything else in my life.
I initially thought of this project to be nothing but a sheer waste of time. But now that I’ve finished it, I’ve come to realise that it was an experience through which I could understand my life and the forces that have shaped me, and lay a foundation for a much more difficult and challenging life yet to come, the journey of becoming a doctor. It is only now that the following quote by Fernando Pessoa makes sense to me: “Direct experience is an evasion, or a hiding place, for those without any imagination. To narrate is to create, while to live is merely to be lived. “