Curiosity: A state of mind

By Ananya Aloke. Ananya, 15, is a home-schooling student in Virar, India. She loves to write and paint. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

When I came across this quote by Albert Einstein, declaring that he had no special talent, I was filled with respect for his humility. Basically, I disagreed with him and thought –that is that.  In reality, that wasn’t. I had lost my peace of mind. Still more peculiar was my fascination with the two words ‘passionately curious’. Hardly caring why Einstein had used these in his quote, I began sprinkling them at random in my daily conversations.

I have no special talent. I am just passionately curious.

To me, the quote was meaningful but strange. No one can believe me to be normal if I declare that these few words made me miserable. I am not curious, forget passionately. I remember being a curious child up to the age of six or seven. Like hunger is lost to illness, my curiosity was lost to age. Since then, I have been fighting it away.

The reason that Albert Einstein was so successful could indeed be pure curiosity. A burning, child-like need to know. I have on a few occasions witnessed this in various forms. Being a child who has grown up cramming science and physics, I am puzzled by the simplicity with which Einstein explained his success. But a part of me is not ready to accept that I have nothing to do with that curiosity.

I guess I am bored. And my boredom exhausts me. I have never been able to talk about it because, given my age, I am always supposed to be joyful. I am joyful and grateful. But I am also coming to terms with how life can be disgusting to those who love novelty –that is, those who are not like me.

For years now, I have been going through each weekday in the mechanical fashion with which I went through the previous one. Holidays appear to be reflections of each other. There is a difference between how people see me and how I see myself. I am a talkative and soft-spoken person. My attitude is girlish. I smile, I laugh and get sensitive. Others assume that everything interests me. Nothing really does.

And it makes no sense. I am fifteen now and even if my life stretches up to five times this age, all of which is spent in reading voraciously, I am not going to possess one percent of the world’s knowledge. I want to be curious too, passionately curious. Still, my mind has turned cool, unreceptive. It is afraid of the thirst that curiosity brings with itself. Earlier I noticed this attitude in my parents, friends, neighbours, strangers in the market. For the first time, it is about me.

Curiosity is like a tile in a floor, a brick in a wall. When it goes missing, most people don’t bother because for the better part of their life, they don’t know about it. Even if they know, the choice to leave or complete it is theirs. At times, it is even better to lose it. Once, my uncle fell seriously ill. Then, he moved away from the knowledge of his illness and its minute details. He recovered. Contrary to the doctors’ belief, he is still alive. But had he been focused on his illness, his curiosity would be badly contaminated by fear and anxiety. And that is not what Einstein spoke of.

My uncle never really killed his curiosity either. He was only diverting it. Throughout that period when he was bed-ridden, he studied wildlife through heavy books that he got others to bring.

I am also trying to be curious now. I am counting all the unanswered questions, the unsolved riddles, the people I am yet to understand, the parts of this city I have not explored.  Perhaps this quest will not take me anywhere. It may even lose its delicate charm after sometime. But in case it does, I am curious to know just how I will survive the monotony that has settled over me. No. I can’t.

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