As a fifth grader, I was the usual kid. Loved to play, family was the hugest horizon, slightly an introvert at school, hated Math, dreaded remedial of any sort, dirty handwriting, hated my class teacher even more.
As a 10 year old, 5th grade was a huge huge deal. Somehow, it sounded "grown up" just cause we were shifting to "SST" from "EVS". I can't help but laugh when I think of that :P
I always loved English. I always finished my English book before any other kid even bothered to check its index out. So this year, as in 5th grade, I had tonnes of stories of my choice, and we had a new English teacher.....
I remember being scared of her, because she looked darn strict, and she looked like the "No nonsense" lady. I enjoyed her classes, because I liked the way she made us all speak what we felt instead of telling us the interpretation of whatever the text was. However...I didn't quite take her strictness very seriously, and went on writing in an untidy handwriting, in an extremely unorganized copy which was almost falling apart with no index.
It didn't matter to me much. I was a 10 year old, doing her homework on time, and enjoying the simplicity of life and worrying about stuff like what my mother might have given me for tiffin.
Then came the first copy submission of fifth grade. I stood in the line, kept my copy on the pile, and went back to my seat to chat with a friend who used to be my best friend. After a while, I heard my name being called in a very stern manner by ma'am. I walked nervously, she looked dead angry. She held out my copy which was pretty much torn and tattered and calmly yet with anger spoke loudly and said "Class, this is a copy. Is it?" . She scolded me left right center in front of the whole class. I was shocked, cause I never thought a messy copy was a big deal. I was shocked because for the first time, I was being scolded in front of the class by a teacher. That incident somehow hit me real hard.
I went back home that day, and fixed my copy first thing before touching a single piece of rice.
Few more days went by, I had a feeling my English teacher hated me. And that used to upset me, cause I loved the subject. My spellings were horrible . And everyday, I'd be asked to write each and every wrong spelling a minimum of ten times as correction. And mind you, a single paragraph of mine had at least three spelling mistakes.
However, these punishments only made me adamant to prove to my teacher that I was a good student, and that I wasn't the back bencher sorts. I wanted to show her my love and respect for the language.
With time, my spellings became better. It took a lot of time,yes, but nevertheless they kept getting better. With time, my English teacher started encouraging me to keep going.. Her emotions were very careful, she never gave away a lot of them. Probably that is why, I had a balanced head when I started getting better and better.
She noticed my answer writing style. They were always original.. She asked me if I write, I told her I did. She asked me to show her some of my work, I remember her advising me very seriously to keep writing. She told me she saw something in me, my writing. She had faith in what I wrote.
And that's how it began. My diary. My first step to writing.
Once I started, there was no end. I'd run to her first thing after every single thing I wrote. From the most kiddish to the silliest of poems. She never laughed at them,though. She only smiled, and told me that I was good, and that I needed to keep going.
Years passed, she was pretty much one of my very close friends in school. I never hesitated to reach out to her at any point of time. She'd be there, no matter how many test papers she might have had to check. She'd carry my work home just so that she could give me a feedback.
She introduced me to the SCHOLASTIC Writing Awards competition, and told me that I must write in the fiction category.
She's the one who asked me for a box of sweets the day the results came out. She broke the news of my story to have won the 5th position all over India. She hugged me to the memory I still cherish when she told me that my story had been selected with 23 other top entries to be published into a book.
This dynamic lady made me. This lady gave me the strength and the confidence to speak out, and speak different. To speak my opinion. She made me realize that I could make a difference with a pen and a paper. She's the reason why today, I am a published author, with all my spellings correct in place.. and I stand somewhere.
She's the reason I believe in A Teacher.
I have so many memories that I cling on to,even today ma'am. I have so many memories which make me cry for the happiness and gratitude I feel for you. A blogpost is not enough for the keyboard to capture every memory that still seems to be painted fresh in the canvas of my mind and heart. I can never repay what you've done for me, I can never repay that extra effort. But I swear I'll try to make you proud someday, someday when I make a difference in the world.
I know you're reading this ma'am,
and I just wanted you to know, that I miss you. And Thank you. I stand tall because of you, ma'am. I stand as a confident 16 year old ready to unleash her thoughts on to a paper without the fear of acceptance, because of you.
Because you taught me, much more than English. You taught me persistence,humanity....and more importantly, you had faith on me.
Here's to you, Mrs. Suman Anand Ma'am.
A very Happy Teacher's Day to you.
the girl with the untidy handwriting,