“It is with a kind of fear that I begin to write the history of my life.” – Hellen Keller.
I’m not here to tell you all a story. I just want to let go of a damn feeling - a feeling which I have suppressed in my heart for ages. Today I just decided to let go of all that I have been holding on to.
I was living in my nani’s place when I was in elementary school. It was an English medium school. I knew I was privileged to get so much love and affection in my nani’s house. But I missed my parents like hell. One day, my parents came to visit me in school. I was meeting them after a long time and was very happy to see them.
When I came back from school that day I knew I could not live without my parents.
I left the school in the middle of the session and came back to my parents’ home. I loved being in my home and felt my soul belonged here. I could not afford to waste half a year but my father was finding it difficult to get me admission in a good school. Finally, he managed to get me into a Hindi medium school.
One of my friends who was as inexperienced as I was told me it was mandatory for Hindi medium students to write all the numbers in Hindi. I had an outburst like an active volcano because I didn’t know how to count or tell my tables in Hindi. I met my new books. All of them were speaking to me only in one language – Hindi. Except for my English book.
It was my first day in a Hindi medium school. I got dressed in a new shirt and tunic and entered into the class. I was 7 years old at that time. My little head was swarming with all kinds of confusing thoughts.
I sat in the corner seat of the last row amongst unfamiliar faces. I was an introvert. I found it difficult to take the initiative and wave a hello to my classmates.
The teachers came and left after teaching the class something new. But I was completely perplexed by the whole thing. I was unable to understand a single thing that day.
It was as if I was forced to breathe in a completely different kind of air.
After a few days, I realized that our maths teacher selected a different student every day. She would then ask that student to recite the tables from 2- 20 in Hindi in front of the entire class. All the other students recited the tables along with him/her.
I would start chanting a completely different prayer in the Maths period. I was terrified of being selected as the ‘table leader’ of the class that day.
I would make stupid excuses for not being well at home so that I could take a day off from school. But I knew this was not a solution for my fears. I had to confront my enormous fears.
I often visualised my fears laughing at me.
I realized I had to prove myself. I wanted to show others that I was capable of mastering things like them. So I started cramming the 2- 20 tables in Hindi.
I desperately wanted to show others that I had a way with Hindi. I kept pushing myself every day and slowly over time I felt comfortable with my Hindi medium education.
I was performing quite well in academics when destiny played another game in my life. When I was in the 8th standard, I was shifted from the Hindi medium school and put in an English medium school.
I felt as if I was suddenly picked up from chilled water and dropped into boiling water.
The change was very painful this time too. I remembered all the fears that I had overcome when I was 7 years old. This time I had to face a different fear – fear of English.
I met my new books. All of them were speaking to me in only one language – English. Except for my Hindi book. Once again I felt intimidated by the books. I knew I had no choice this time too. I had to face my fear just like last time.
I practised a few lines to introduce myself in English. I remembered how I had crammed my tables all those years back. I crammed a few questions too so that I would find it easy to talk to my new classmates.
I wanted to show them that I had a way with English. I wanted to prove myself once again.
It was my first day in an English medium school. I started using all the lines that I had crammed to talk with my classmates. I knew my English was terrible. I could feel that unpleasant sensation in the pit of my stomach. I knew that the next few days would be tough for me.
I sat in the corner seat in the last row once again.
The teachers came and left. I was perplexed this time too. I felt embarrassed when I struggled with my spellings. I would peep into my seat mate’s notebook secretly to copy the English spellings.
I knew my English was the worst in my class.
We used to have a CSDP (Communicative Skill Development Programme) period once in a week in our class. We had to speak on a given topic in English on that day. My sentences were awfully structured most of the times. I could see everyone giggling under their desks.
I would start chanting a different prayer during the English period. I hoped my English teacher did not select me to read the English chapter in the class that day.
I would fumble with difficult and new words when I read the chapter. I knew everyone was giggling under their desks.
One day our class teacher asked all the students to make charts on different topics. I had to prepare a chart on bus routes. I had to write the names of all the students and mention their mode of transportation too. I couldn’t get a name list but managed to make a note of all the students in my class. When the chart was pinned on the bulletin board, a few students went to our class teacher and complained about their names being incorrectly written on the chart. Some of the students were yelling about it. A few were whispering about it and giggling amongst themselves.
I had made that chart with a lot of dedication. I thought it was beautiful but I saw all my efforts going down the drain in one shot.
When I scored low marks in English I heard remarks like, “Hindi medium se aaye hai to Hindi wale maám ki toh favourite hi hogi na.” “Hindi medium se aaye hui gawar.”
Those words hurt but I didn’t give up.
I started reading English story books and newspapers to improve my English. Soon it was time for the class teacher to announce the midterm exam results.
None of the students giggled under their desks this time.
I had secured the second position. Everyone was surprised to see my result. I had scored well in English too. After that, I ensured that my academic graph never dipped. I always topped the class. I secured 10CGPA in my 10th standard and 95.4% in my 12th from an English medium school.
I am sure that had I done my schooling in a Hindi medium school I would have done well there too.
Education has nothing to do with language. I had always been a bright student.
I became panicky only because I had to change to another school which followed another medium of language.
I got over my fear of English long back. Now I am a professional poet and writer.
I have won an award for being the youngest writer in the ‘Emerald hues’ book. I have also created an anthology called ‘Blues under the silver hues.’ I write a blog called UnSHUT and it is growing at a very fast pace. My stories and poems are published in magazines and in the virtual world too. I think of myself as a budding writer. I want to become a mature writer. “Writing is my only drug now and I want to continue writing till I exhale the last molecule of CO2 from my body.”