Topic was permutations and combinations. Some of the students said sir we already know this topic and we have studied it in 11th standard. So why waste time on it?

Sir smiled and said — I know.

Then he asked a question — “how many arrangements are possible for the word ‘bombay’”? And I think everyone must have solved this question. Then later on in the same class moving forward to a much more complex topic (identical ball in the box problem, circular permutations etc) we were so much concentrated on finding solution of these tough questions that our sir didn’t even took pen and answered all the complex questions in a tenth of a second.

He must have solved it in his mind, one may think. But how fast? Did he already knew what he was going to teach that day and so must have memorized all the answers, but then why would’ve he had said that now you make the questions using your imagination and I will answer them at the same speed. And he did that again. Then, at last when he answered how he was so fast in calculating those answers he said

I don’t know.

I know how to calculate the arrangements of the word Bombay and so I applied the same logic in every complex topic. He said he never crammed any formula (we used to cram formulas for these complex problems).

Not only for this subject, he did the same thing with every subject. Few years later, today when I was reading a quote by Mark Twain on the internet that — if you tell the truth, you don’t need to remember anything took me back to those days. It is we who make the problem complex ourself (in life too) and then feel bad for not able to solve. I can say this with my whole confidence that whatever subject he taught us I never tried to cram anything. I only uncovered what was covered at first, the whole truth. I religiously followed my teacher. I worked hard for a year but still after giving GATE (2020) examination (AIR 1248) only IIT Indore and IIITB were ready to send me an admission letter. This was a failure for me because I was studying to get into IIT Bombay. Clearly I rejected IIT Indore and IIITB.

Few days later when giving interviews to get a job, one of the interviewers said that you must be regretting now that you have wasted 1 year in preparation. I gently replied, Sir I have no regrets and I do agree that I failed. I accept that I am a failure. I still call myself a failure sometimes cause of failing a lot so often. But I have no regrets.

I am actually happy that I failed because after preparing so hard for that one year I realized that the destination was not the end goal rather it was the journey which we overlook often. In that 1 year I learnt how to deal with fear, anxiety, depression, family pressure, financial issues when all of them attack at the same time and on top of that you get diagnosed with MDD (major depressive disorder). If you don’t know about MDD it’s good. Physical pain is nothing when compared to the mental agony. MDD is a mental illness. On one side were these demons and on the other side was me alone. I was in tears during that time. I have no count of how much I would’ve cried during those days.

Here, one might ask — “why crying over a trivial exam?” A single piece of paper wouldn’t decide your future. Yes it’s true. But the journey which will lead you to the exam will decide what kind of person you will become. Remember the journey matters not any piece of paper ofcourse, if you continue to prepare till the end.

My frustration increased tremendously everyday to beat the topper in our coaching center (he got AIR 13 that year btw). It went on the whole year. I was determined that I will beat this guy. Me failing in GATE was the symbolic death of me against those demons which every aspirant must face in their journey. But as written in Shrimad Bhagavad Gita that those who die in war go to heaven too. I am proud that facing all those demons I accepted death instead of leaving the battleground.

So what if one may die because it’s the journey which leads to the destination is considered more important than the destination itself.

I learnt a lot in that one year of preparation for GATE. To date I am proud that I get to be taught by someone whom every part of personality I admire. Now sometimes I teach the same things to other needy students which I learnt from my teacher.

This was my story. If an average student from tier-3 college suffering with MDD can get 1248 rank in GATE then why can’t you get AIR 1. Always aim the highest. On then one end I was fighting with fear, anxiety, family issues,suicidal thoughts because of MDD and on the other end somewhere deep I knew that I will beat that AIR 13 student in this year’s exam. I always aim high. Aiming lower is a sin. Never do that. Aim so high that you aren’t even hesitant to die for your aim. It’s not like people who get AIR 1,2,3 doesn’t feel pain, stress. Even the strongest of the strong feel fear.

Karna was feeling fear too in the final battle v/s Arjuna, as said by his charioteer.

When our sir said “how many arrangements are possible of the word ‘bombay’?” he must’ve unconsciously said to every student sitting there that their target is IIT Bombay. That’s what I think.

So that one year of preparation has made me a very strong person from inside. Whenever I aim, I aim for highest. Aiming low is a sin. Don’t be a sinner.

Current situation: I am working in a startup and earns enough that the thoughts to go in FAANG doesn’t enter in my mind. I teach some students too. I am still suffering from MDD and I take medications for it. I lift weights and it’s been 3 years doing that.

My website: https://darshan.sh

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