“Every child is gifted. They just unwrap their packages at different times.” I love this quote because it is apt for a recluse like me.
As a young school going child, my grades were always average. The people around me had faith in my potential but I did not have any motivation to prove my worth to them.
I have always been an introvert. I struggled with mathematics and always ended up getting poor grades in this particular subject.
I had an overbearing teacher who criticized me openly. So I lost interest in the subject altogether. I started believing that I could never understand numbers. They simply bounced off my head.
It was a vicious cycle. My teacher’s criticism made me feel as if I was a “good for nothing” person and I continued to get low marks in Mathematics.
I could relate to one subject very well, however. ART – yes I had a creative bent of mind. I could draw things just by imagining them and I could then colour them beautifully.
Quite naturally, only my art teacher was proud of my dedication and passion for art.
Since this subject was not given much importance academically, I could never pursue my passion at that time. I had to study subjects that I hated. When I entered the 10th grade, I had to attend coaching classes after school hours. I had to study Maths, Science and Social Studies for 2 hours. I had to study English for an hour and spend another hour studying Gujarati. By the time I stepped into my house, I would be so tired that I had no energy left to even think of my passion. I then had to do my homework.
My mother would feel extremely nervous when she saw my grades. She went to all the temples in the vicinity and prayed to all the Gods that she knew. She appealed to all these Gods and asked them to ensure that I passed my board examinations.
I was in an extremely frustrated state of mind. My mind was like a ‘house of horrors’ at that time.
I yearned for a teacher who would understand my problems.
I was looking for a compassionate teacher. I did not like it when my teachers underrated me and insulted me in front of my parents. Every time my parents attended a PTA, my father would get completely upset and my mother would start crying. This would depress me. I then started coming up with excuses to not attend such meetings. But my mother was very clear about not missing any PTA meeting.
I could sense my teachers treating me differently. They felt I was not good enough to associate me with the other “good” and “intelligent” students. I would always feel left out whenever classroom activities were being organized. Other students were not keen on making friends with me.
At such times, I felt bad about myself. I would always feel that I was incapable of doing anything. My family members never pressurized me to score great marks. But I felt bad because I could never get good marks and make them proud of me.
That was when a teacher – an angel came into my life.
She was a very giving person so I would always look forward to meeting her. I liked going to her classes. She was always polite. She always had a beautiful smile on her wrinkled face. Her eyes oozed innocence and kindness. She was a middle-aged person. Her hair was short and straight and she always wore a salwar kameez.
She had a serene aura around her.
I could see her motivating every child in the classroom. She made them believe in themselves. She believed in them and knew they could do better. She would feel proud of them. I finally got the support that I had always been looking for. Of course, she absolutely scolded me for my mistakes but she would also stand by my side and encourage me to do better.
Yes, she was my tutor in the coaching classes that I had now started attending.
She had to teach 90-100 students coming from different schools but she was responsible enough to give personal attention to each and every child. She conducted her classes in batches. She had a magical way of teaching us. She involved us in her teaching and kept the spark of interest alive in her classes. She was successful in creating an interest for her subjects in our hearts.
I felt like I had just started off with my schooling. I often felt like a kindergarten kid who was learning alphabets and numbers for the very first time. Initially, I continued to score extremely low marks.
But she never gave up on me.
She continued to motivate me and after a few months, I started working harder to live up to her expectations. Slowly, my marks started improving. I had now reached a point where I started getting pass marks in my test papers.
She would look at my marks, pat me on my back and tell me that she was proud of me. She would then say that she knew I could do even better than this. I started feeling good about myself. I now had a clearly defined goal before me.
I wanted to make myself, my teacher and my family proud of me. Most of all I wanted to make my teacher proud of me.
I wanted her to know that I would work harder to live up to the trust that she had invested in me.
I worked harder every day. I wrote practice tests regularly. And like all other students my age, I too was extremely nervous before my board exams. I too wondered if the questions would be easy. What would I do if the questions were tough? Would I be able to match the expectations of my teacher and my family? Luck favoured us all that year. The questions were easy and all my hard work had been worth it.
For the first time in my life, I was sure that I wouldn't fail in any of my subjects.
Well, the exams were finally over. The vacation started and all of us were determined to enjoy our holidays. Two months simply whizzed past us. One fine day, we got to know that the results would be out within 3-4 days. We could sense the suspense in the air. My mother started praying more fervently now. I was sure that I would not fail in any of the subjects but I could not help feeling nervous too.
The day finally arrived. The results were out. All of us kept our fingers crossed and prayed for the best. I did not pray for extraordinary marks. I just wanted to pass with decent marks. We opened the website and typed my hall ticket number. All our eyes were anxiously glued to the rotating circle on the computer screen. Why was the page taking so long to load? I did not even realize that I was crying.
And then I saw the best four letters of my life – 'PASS'. I was in seventh heaven that day. I felt as if I had accomplished something great. I felt I was as good as all my other friends now.
I saw all my family members crying. I was happy because they were tears of joy. I went through my marks now. And then I saw something that almost took my breath away.
It was something beyond belief and it brought tears to my eyes again. I had scored the highest marks in a subject called ‘MATHEMATICS’.
That was the subject that I hated and had often cursed. A thousand different feelings flooded my heart. I was happy because I had made my teacher proud. I felt proud of myself too. I was feeling restless now. I wanted to share my happiness with my teacher first.
I wanted her to know that her magical touch on my head had made all the difference in my performance.
I knew that only her encouraging words had motivated me to work harder. I had achieved the most impossible of things. I knew I could never have accomplished that on my own. I did not wait for long. I rushed to her. I ran to her. And the first thing that I did was to touch her feet.
I thanked her for being humane enough to understand my problems. She had walked through my journey of hard work with a lot of faith in me. I knew that a divine hand had given me a special blessing when I needed it the most. Her blessings had changed the course of my life and had moulded me into a confident human being.
Even today, I know her blessings are with me. I have only gone on to experience progress and growth in my life after that. I also know that all my teachers have contributed towards my growth in some way or the other.