For those who haven’t read the existentialism of Albert Camus, the brief introduction of Sisyphus is imperative. Sisyphus is a character in Greek mythology, who was condemned by Zeus to forever roll a boulder up a hill only to see it rolling down again to the bottom. Sisyphus and Students in Balochistan have many things in common with the only difference being that latter has done nothing wrong unlike the former who had cheated death.
Students in Balochistan have two pernicious routes to securing a standard way of living: academic route and non-academic route. The non-academic route, that is business, is not open to everyone. Without a financial backup, this route is too much of a gamble. One has to put all stock in it, waiting for the desired results. The end may either be sublime or ridiculous, depending on the stocks-in-trade and the methodology involved. In short, this route is not the option for the talented youth of unresourceful families. The academic route is not sustainable either.
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Students from modest financial backgrounds live with a perpetual fear of being left unemployed. This fear takes their lives so entirely that they start memorizing General Knowledge even before they have passed intermediate. In times when students should have been learning the basics of Quantum physics, they can be seen stuffing their minds with facile knowledge. Like Sisyphus, they begin laboring unsure whether they will ever be able to make it to the top. After graduating from universities, Students binge-apply for advertised jobs with their minds boggled by many resentments, fears, and uncertainties. There comes a reputational change for them when they pass written examination and their Facebook newsfeed becomes constipated with backhanded compliments which also carry the warnings about possible ‘Sifarish’ in VIVA-VOCE by well-connected candidates.
Now the time is ripe for tapping into the store of general knowledge they have been flirting with for many years. In VIVA VOCA, the panelist asks questions in a rapid-fire manner. One panelist asks about the exact date of birth of Alfred Nobel. Shuddering on the vague boundary mark between success and failure, Sisyphus utters sorry after an interlude. The boulder he was rolling up a hill backtracks to the starting point, bringing the total displacement to zero. Fragile hopes founder when results sans his name are announced. This hopelessness engenders many dangerous trends like criminality, drug culture, insurgency which eat away the intellect of the youth.
Who is Zeus in their story? The unforced answer is government. But in democracy, rulers can easily get away with their responsibility saying that they didn’t get enough time to redress structural flaws in the system. Having said that Students may meet a fate different from that of Sisyphus if government fights the powerful circles who have monopolized jobs, strangulates the culture of Sifarish enforcing merit and equity, promotes the private sector, and increases the ease of doing business in the province.
The writer belongs to Zhob, Balochistan, and currently serving as a Tehsildar at the Board of Revenue Balochistan.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agree with them.
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