And why wouldn’t I name this article “The English language”, as expected in its own mode…Well..because…this ain’t a story of some English, it’s the story of an Indian who learnt used English Language.
I had been moved upgraded to a reputed public school when I reached standard IV. Until then I had studied in (not so) English Medium schools. I mean, they claimed to be an English medium school, but the use was hardly inculcated. Anyways, as a 9 year old child, I was a fairly confident student. Little did I know that my confidence would go down the graveyard when I would enter a class full of disciplined & “English speaking” children.
I can recall our English teacher, Ms Veena,a lady in her 30’s, tall, slim, very fair,with long plaited henna dyed hair, seen mostly in light colored punjabi suits, big glasses on her eyes & not to forget, One of the strictest in the primary school.Ok, let me confess, I wasn’t good at her subject and more importantly, I wasn’t even trying to improve. She would give me occasional lectures whenever I wouldn’t do my homework well, sometimes on my handwriting. Crossing the Staff room, became a headache for me. Whenever she would see me, I don’t know exactly what would happen to her(& what did I do to cause that) but her eyes would become red with anger. The subject”English” has become a torture for me. I was irritated/scared/frustrated at the very sight of the name in our time table.
I don’t remember all the incidents but what I do remember clearly is when Ms. Veena was distributing our mid term English answer sheets. As expected ( by her), I had failed, failed miserably. She threw the answer sheet at me, controlling hard not to hit me…saying the roughest and rudest things about me and my background. That was the Blow. I burst out into tears and didn’t stop until I reached home that afternoon. I had to, had and had to show her that I was not some f***in villager who cannot do good in her subject. I had done fairly well in all other subjects, why did she not give me the benefit of doubt, before insulting my abilities in front of the class. I was desperate to prove myself back.
Newspapers was the first thing I banged on. My parents were surprised to see me reading aloud all the English newsletters, that we used to call. I would read all English magazines, whether I understood a word or not, but I would go on reading. I would stick to the TV only to watch English News that came twice on DD1 & learn the pronunciations. A dictionary would always be open by my side, so that I can look up each and every word that I don’t understand. Everyone found my behavior weird. I would always speak in English..be it the most broken form of a language anyone ever heard, but any mocking wouldn’t stop me now. I would learn and improve..and improve some more when somebody would make fun of my language or speaking skills. Some good friends at school helped me too.
I did not score great in the final English exam but I did fairly well, as was not expected by anyone. Ms Veena was happy with my performance. But I was still angry. Yes, I had an ego, even when I was 9. I would never wish her when I saw her. And after moving to the secondary school, I hardly got to see her again. Even if I did, I would think myself to be a big secondary school girl now, who doesn’t need to wish a primary school teacher. Little did I realize, that had she not done what she did to me, I would have never improved my English and perhaps, would have not been able to survive in the educated society. How I wish now, I could Thank her once!!
Anyways, story abhi baaki hai mere dost! I never stopped improving myself. Reading newspapers, glued to English news, speaking in English, writing continuously for hours to improve my handwriting…all this was still on. We moved to the city, and one more time I had to change my school.
I was now 13 and in IX standard. Our English teacher, Ms Shuchi, short hair, wheatish complexion, always seen in neatly draped crisp cotton saris and yes, one of the strictest teachers we had in this school. She checked our home work one day and came to my desk. She was quick and nobody would know what she was up to unless explicitly made clear by her. She asked me to stand up, gave me my notebook and asked me to read out the article that I had written as my homework. I was shivering and thought may be I had done some blunders with my English again. I wasn’t ready at all, to face one similar round of scolding’s in front of this new class. I read the article and then looked up at her. She was smiling at me! and then she started talking to the class, appreciating my command on the language. Every word she said was a treat to my ears and mind and heart. I thought I did it! I proved my point! She thought my article was the best written. I became one of her favorite students as I did better and better later. I scored a whooping 97 marks out of 100 in the X standard Board exams.
story abhi bhi baaki hai mere dost….I was jubilant and little did I know that was getting drawn to the other side now..Over Confidence!! I stopped improving myself and took my skills for granted. Most of my friends would copy my English assignments and I would take pride in letting them do so. Our English teacher in standard XI, Ms Chhaya, even told one of my friends” You are entirely at the mercy of Reema in this subject”. and There I go, I became so (over) confident that one day, when my maths teacher called up my parents to say “this girl isnt doing good in maths at all, when she’s a topper in English, why cant she study mathematics as well”, I was smiling, rather to be ashamed of not being good at mathematics.
Anyways, I realized only when it was too late. My XII std board exams results came out. Out of the class, I had scored the least in the subject English.
..And all I wanted to remember was Ms Veena!!
It feels great to achieve something that people say you cannot!…But it feels shameful to not be able to do something that people have full confidence that you can do….
What I learnt – Never take things that you (think you) know for granted, Strive hard to improve – You are never too good at anything, there’s always a scope for improvement….Right my Friend!!