Growing Up: Discovering New Interests – In Quest of the Last Victory

Coming into Existence 9
Growing Up: Discovering New Interests
In 1980, from this small settlement in the hills, I was shifted to
one of the biggest schools in the national capital, just a mile from
the hospital where I was born. Life will keep bringing me back in the
vicinity of this hospital. This school would initiate many learning
phases in my life. There were over 60 students in my class and there
were a lot of bright students who were closer to the teacher, forming
the centre of activity and attention. It was they who were asked
questions by the teacher. It was they who answered, minded the
class when the teacher wasn’t there and carried the bundles of class
notebooks for the teacher to the staffroom.
Overshadowed by the brighter students, I felt like a mediocre
student, more than ever before. As it is, I had diffi culty in under-
standing. While every teacher told me that my handwriting was
pathetic and at times would ask me to write some sentences a 100
times over as punishment, no one ever told me how I could make
my handwriting good. By myself I could not fi gure out how to make
my handwriting good. I wanted to be good but no one told me how
I could be good. Besides the regular play and study schedule, a desire
was building up gradually, wanting to be good. I wanted to be good
and likeable. At times it was frustrating to feel like an inferior and
lesser child from all quarters. More often I would use this frustration
to work harder.
Introduction to writing
When I was in the 3rd grade, the teacher asked the class to write a
poem on the colourful Indian festival of Diwali. I was able to write a
poem by myself (I was in the 3rd grade). I was able to put the joy and
colour of the festival in the form of some partly rhyming sentences
10 In Quest of the Last Victory
of equal length. The teacher appreciated my poem. This little appre-
ciation I got, coupled with the fact that I was actually able to write a
poem, encouraged me to write more often. It was very satisfying to
look at a fi nished poem that I had written.
I am so thankful this happened. It gave me a means to express
myself and for this I received appreciation as well. Even now I keep
returning to writing as a means of expression of my thoughts.
Though, initially it was just in the form of small rhyming poems, the
poems often got me a little of the much needed appreciation from my
teachers and my classmates. Writing gave me the time and space to
get the right words to explain my thoughts. It was an uninterrupted
expression of thoughts. It was not affected by the hesitation that
I would feel in spoken expression of thoughts. I enjoyed it.
The challenge of mathematics
When I was in 4th grade, I failed in the mathematics paper in the
rst exam of the year. I could not understand mathematics at all.
How and why the signs and numbers were behaving the way they
were? A plus becomes a minus and a multiply becomes a divide,
what is up goes down and what is down comes up across the ‘equal
to’ sign and all that stuff with brackets. It was very unclear. I felt I
could do well if someone explained the basics to me. At this time
my mathematics teacher called me and another classmate of mine
who was weak in studies for extra classes and taught me the basics of
mathematics in her spare time. That helped me get good marks in
the very next exam.
I remember when everyone’s score in mathematics was being
announced in class, there was applause when my marks were an-
nounced and I walked up to collect my answer sheet. I had not done
Coming into Existence 11
exemplarily well, but then no one expected me to score high marks
after failing the previous exam. Had this teacher not been there
maybe I would have remained eternally weak at mathematics. I wish I
could fi nd her and thank her but I don’t even remember her name.
Love for athletics and sports
In my 4th grade, what started as a small early morning walk for my
pet dog gradually became a morning jog. Thankfully, this duty of
walking the pet dog fell on me after everyone else had said a ‘no’ to
it. I would take around two and a half kilometres walk and run with
my dog. Thanks to this one activity, I got into the habit of waking up
early and going for a jog. Gradually I took a liking to it. As I grew up
I continued running. I would run in the rain, heat, cold, morning,
afternoon, evening and even at night. I always loved running. Running
made me feel so alive.
Around this time football came into my life. I enjoyed playing
football. It was the easiest thing to do, run after a ball and kick it;
it was fun. And it was the only game in which I could make con-
tact with the ball. Football would, in due course of time, become a
way of life for me. The eleven players from the opponent team trying
to prevent you from reaching a goal is very much like the obstacles
and challenges of life that come in the way of success. To succeed, you
need to beat the toughest of oppositions and enjoy doing so. Football
would induce me with the energy of life. It would teach me to rule
inertia—run, stop, take off, change direction, throw myself and
dribble the ball around obstacles and kick. And I would always carry
this energy in every sphere of life. As I always say, ‘Life is a game
of football’. Though I wasn’t very good at it in the beginning, my
enthusiasm for it usually found me a place in the team. I could not
dribble well or kick hard, but with my good running I could keep the
opposite team occupied and running.