Back-benchers: They are the Future
By Shireen Khan
A chilly morning in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany, and a fourth grade class with students huddled against their benches. A teacher intimidated by the silence of a little boy who hadn’t spoken or asked a single question. “Today”, he inquired the silenced boy, ‘you should ask something’. The boy, looking at the light coming from a smoky window was surprised and answered with awe, ‘Sir, what if I sit on this very light’ he pointing towards the light, ‘What would happen?’. The teacher answered with expelling the student from the school roll. This expelled boy was Einstein and is considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century.
Often, teased with students who can enter and exit the class room at their will without being noticed by anybody. Perceptional, as if they would not be asked embarrassing questions and even when asked, can escape with irreverent answers, they can indeed be surprisingly wise. Same was the case with Thomas Alva Edison, who likes Einstein, was expelled from the school roll too, and became most revered invented mind of the 21st Century. We owe our light to him, we owe bulb to him, our entire technological shift to him (from orthodox to modernity). And don’t forget.
He was a back bencher too.
Why blame the back-benchers anyway! To me, it is just the matter of good timing. The boys with whom the cliché of ‘wise and intelligent students’ is attached, is just a myth. They are sitting at front desks because they come early. And who comes early? You may ask. Those who have slept early at night. The back-benchers come late because they spend their entire night studying, and considering the medical necessity of health being sleeping, they tend to take a little while longer in waking up and thus are late for taking classes. The front desks are secured, thus they are the back-benchers!!!
Even though, miraculously, if they make it early and secure the front desks, they tend to ask annoying questions. Teachers are surprised. The perception of them is not so good and asking a good question is only the property of front-benchers, so they are often replied with a simple and poetic sentence. ‘Get Out’!!!
The teachers don’t care for fresh air for the students or their health for that matter but the reason they say ‘Get out!’ is because they don’t understand the question themselves. Then the teachers eyes the rest of the students indicating the he is just a back-bencher, there is nothing to worry about, and hides himself in the lure of fury. That’s why I call the back-benchers as the “bare-footed Socrates”.
Take our scholars in Pakistan for instance. You can name them. Sa’adat Hassan Manto, who failed the 9th Grade in Urdu Subject, and then became one of the most veteran short-story tellers of Urdu language of the sub-continent, could indeed be categorized as a back-bencher. Javed Chowdary, a veteran journalist, happened to have heard a comment as a back-bencher that some other classmate of him had taken an award. He could not remain pondering that I have the same two ears and two eyes, why couldn’t I be the winner. This thinking could have been counted as ‘not attentive’ by his teacher in the class, but this is what made him a world renowned journalist. Qaisar Abbas, a renowned consultant to 7 multi-national companies, was a ‘chaye-wala’ in a hotel. He was often mocked with comments like ‘you can only be a “Rairhi wala”, and indeed he was. He, now renowned, said ‘I am a rairhi wala, but the only difference is that I do not sell fruits or vegetables, I sell dreams.’ What could possibly be more annoying is that a teacher tends to ignore those who sit at distant benches, but indeed they are the future of a state.
Honorable Jury, don’t you think that the front-benchers enjoy the privileges of teacher’s attention because they are more successful in terms of presentations and assignments being assigned? And what is the measure of success for those who actually think and ponder upon questions which are beyond academia. The front-benchers may perform the assignment on time but doesn’t achieve the essence of the subject. Being ignored from the teacher’s attention, the back-bencher has quite a lot of time to think. He may not become Socrates or Plato, but indeed they do not become the ‘blind-followers’ too. What is more interesting is that the rebellion instincts which have always turned the history of human civilization to another way with ideas poles-apart, presenting opinions – sometimes unconsciously – capable of containing the whole new dimension. They hold the future in their eyes and that bright future cannot be seen by the teachers because they are sitting too far from the eye of the teacher. Because they are the back-benchers.
My personal endeavors tend to be more intrinsic. Apart from the mental capacity that I have rhymed about for the last couple of minutes, the physical capacity should also be appreciated. The long-heighted tall young boy whose company can even save you from a lot of mess, are indeed filled with delighting conversations and emotions. The front-benchers are inclined to be robotic. They rise on time, they sleep on time, and they eat on time. It seems that the artificial clocks set upon our walls and on our hands have grown into biological clock fixed within our minds. The alienation of students has increasingly been anticipated in our academia. This is, by the way, a new trend of the so-called modernization. The back-benchers are however safe. They-don’t-care of teachers has at least blessed them with shielding themselves from this artificiality. Suffice it to say, they are in fact safe from the hazards of perceptive-best to the actual-best.
Respected Jury and dear audience, it is a question of high intensity that back-benchers are often ignored and teased with ignorance and mocking comments. Historical Freudian thought has always proved that the more suppressed rise more often rapidly and quickly then the front-benchers attention seekers.
If history has proved that back-benchers are the future of the country, then the future will too by the indictment, sufficing it to say that don’t. Don’t tease the back-benchers, they indeed and will forever be, the future of a nation. Who could be more eloquent than Faiz, and on this beautiful moment, I think he may had back-benchers in his mind when he said:
“Jo rukay tho kohay garan thay ham, Jo chalay tho jaan se guzar gaye”.