Growing Up

How I became a better student at school

This is the story of how I became a better student. My schools had no role to play in me becoming a better student. It was all my skills, my talent, and my hard work. I promise. Don’t believe me? Read on –

During my initial days in school, my father always compared me to the Prithvi missile, which was designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organization.

I don’t know what my father’s reasoning was…but I guess it had something to do with the fact that Prithvi missile never hit its intended target. (Update: After many years of trials, it did start hitting the targets. Just like me.)

“You are just like that surface-to-surface missile, Prithvi. Can’t even find Pakistan,” he would say.

It wasn’t always my mistake that my father got called to the school often. Like that time when the teacher asked me that dogs question. She said: “Rajan if I give you two dogs and then give you two more dogs…how many dogs would you have?”

I said: “Five Dogs.”

The teacher asked this question many times and every time my answer was five. I think after the seventh attempt, she lost her cool and called in my father. My father’s answer was ‘Four Dogs’ and even after I reminded him that we already had a dog at home, and the correct answer was ‘Five Dogs’ he only gave me a stare.

I think I was in Kendriya Vidyalaya No 2, Jalandhar, Punjab then – in the 1st standard. The moment we got my first standard results (I passed), he said we would be moving to Kholapur in Maharashtra.

“Papa, why are we moving? Have you been transferred?” I asked him.

“No, I wanted to put you in a stricter school and that’s why we are moving.” He replied without looking up.

Once in Kholapur, I was admitted to Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) School. The first day changed everything – they took me to a hall where they had publicly nailed one student on a giant plus sign.

Just to confirm, I asked the student sitting next to me: “Why do you think that guy has been nailed to a big plus and hung on the wall?”

He replied: “Maybe, he failed maths. Why else, would they nail him on a big plus.”

I thanked God that he hadn’t failed English. Imagine being nailed to an ‘A’ – a nail thro’ the head for sure.

I didn’t want to meet the same fate and ended up becoming the best student the school had ever seen. Now, I could get my progress report signed on the same day it was given to me by my teachers – not because I was getting good marks, but because now my classmates had stopped borrowing it to scare their parents.

By now I had realized that the lesser activities I did in school, the lesser my chances of making mistakes, and thus even lesser my chances of being nailed and hung on the wall. When one makes lesser mistakes, one becomes a better student.

In order to limit the activities, I avoided eye contact with teachers and when they asked me to do anything I would re-confirm if they were talking to me.

I think I was in the fourth standard when I became the favorite student of my English teacher. She had spent the last 15 minutes waiting for one of us to give two examples of the pronoun. I tried hard to avoid eye-contact but after 15 minutes, my turn did come. She asked: “You over there….give me two examples of a pronoun.”

I was quite. I didn’t look up.

She came closer, and said: “Hellow…you…look up and give me two examples of a pronoun.”

I had no choice but to look up. I looked at her, looked behind, and looked on both my sides and then looked back at the teacher and asked: “Who? Me?”

The teacher went ecstatic. Since then I became her favorite student. Unfortunately, we left SDA when I got my fourth standard results.

Current Affairs

Color clashes in school – dress rehearsal for communal clashes later

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Warning: This is not a funny article. It is more of the thinking types.

A few hours back, I received a call from a relative of mine, whose son studies in a top-school, here in Chennai. She said, her son had got injured in what she described as ‘color clashes`.

She didn`t have the time to explain ‘color clashes` on phone. And anyways, I had to visit her son at the hospital so I let it go. In the hospital, I saw this boy of 10 years bandaged from head to toe. There were other children also in the room – boys and girls – all grievously injured.

Here is the story I squeezed out of the bandaged boy using my journalistic skills. I have tried to use the boy`s words as much as possible.

* * * * * * * * *

To bring a healthy competition among the students of the school, a few years back our Principal had divided the school into four houses – Red, Green, Yellow and Blue. Everything went on well. For years we fought our battles in the playgrounds or the auditorium.

Everything was fair and square until we were exposed to all these communal clashes. Somebody said Mohammed`s cartoons were in bad taste, somebody said Durga shouldn`t have been depicted on liquor bottles. Somebody was offering a bounty on the Danish Cartoonist`s head while somebody lynching men transporting cows. We kids found your mature games interesting and decided to have our own version of the game.

Thus, the school pupil leader called a meeting of all class representatives and announced the plan. None of the four house members were to respect the others. Whenever you saw somebody belonging to the other house, you had to call names and tease till he/she cried and ran away.

Overtime, students came up with insulting phrases for each house. Reds were insulted when somebody walked up to them and said: “Red, Red…susu in the bed.” The Green house members hated it when the others walked up to them and said: “Green Green, marry the Queen.” The Yellow house members didn`t like being addressed as: “Yellow, yellow, dirty fellow.” The Blue house in turn had extreme disdain for those who teased them with this one liner: “Blue Blue, you have no clue.”

Many a times, there were voices from within the fighting houses to bring an end to all these clashes but nobody heeded. We kept on fighting till we stopped studying and attended school only to clash with those who didn`t belong to our group.

* * * * * * * * *
The boy had finished his narrative. Now he was looking at the ceiling. I broke the monotony: “So, when is all this going to stop?”

“The day the other houses don`t call us names or tease us” he replied.

“But somebody has to take the first step? No?” I snapped.

The boy thought for a while and said, “I agree. But we don`t want to be the first. It won’t look good on our group.”

“What do you mean?” I prodded him because I didn’t understand what he was saying.

“If we are the first to give up, everybody will think we got scared,” the boy smiled as he said. His jaw must have hurt because he grimaced in pain even as his lips parted to show his teeth.

I got up from his hospital bed, on which I was sitting and asked him: “Why do you get into all these color clashes?”

“The same reason the elders get into communal clashes,” he replied. So saying, he turned his head away from me and closed his eyes. I didn`t have the heart to probe him further.

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