When the marks had come of the vernacular language, in the critical Boards examination, shock awaited me. I had scored much less than what my teacher had expected. I remember standing crying, swearing never to study the (erstwhile) beloved subject again.
” How could this happen, sir? I really performed well. Never will I touch Malayalam again.”
Pavlov would have found a nice explanation about my reaction.
My learned teacher, an old man , believed in telling the truth- not sugar coating it with consolation.
” Do the opposite,” he smiled.
” What? ” I sobbed, all rebellion.
” Definitely study the subject further. Score the highest in your future course, and take sweet revenge.”
That was a great “aha” moment for me. I was being asked to take defeat on the chin and move on. And dare to dream again.
” More. Do more. Write a book someday in your mother tongue,” he laughed.
” In Malayalam?” I asked, wonder struck. ” There are too many stars here..where do I find my space, sir?’
” One day, you will find your space. Might be totally yours too. Find your own strong points- something totally your own”, he said firmly.
” Now, recite a favourite poem for me. In whatever language you like.”
I rubbed my eyes and recited Henley’s Invictus.
“.. In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.”
My beloved teacher is no more.
At the beginning of this new year, after 25 years of that conversation, I have cheerful news.
The leading publisher in my mother tongue has informed me that they are planning to publish two of my books.
One is a poetry translation from English. Another is a Philosophy translation from Hindi.
I have found my space, sir. And I touch your feet in my memories, with reverence.For that timely encouragement , when the head was bloodied with defeat and I had thought to call it quits.
May there be teachers like you, world over. May more dreams be kindled by words like yours. May each of us find our little space to shine in this beautiful world, using whatever gifts we are blessed with.
To remain, unique. To serve, in whatsoever way.However late it may be, in the order of time.