I was so ashamed of my English that I wanted to hide my face
By Madhurie Singh, April 14, 2014
This was in 1985. I was in class 10. We had shifted from a small industrial township, where my father was working with the Indian Telephone Industries as the head of the Personal & Administration department.
Due to his cardiac problem, he decided to move from Naini near Allahabad in UP to Bangalore in Karnataka, where the head office of this humongous public sector office exists. We moved in the middle of the academic year, ie in June 1985. No school was willing to give me admission as class 10 is tough even for the schools as they need the permission of the boards to enroll any new student that too in the midst of the class 10. My sister got into PUC class 12 of the state board and my brothers got into ASC Kendriya Vidyala school after a lot of phone calls to various ministers. Finally a colleague of my father, mentioned to him that his wife teaches Math in a CBSE private school and that we can try there. The principal of the school Mr Gopalkrishna, was known to be very strict and blunt. I passed the exam and finally got into National Public School, Indranagar, Bangalore. Check the school here.
I guess, getting admission back then seemed easier, in comparison to the loads of study that I had to catch up with. After getting the admission, I realized it was one of the most sought after schools in Bangalore where parents will do anything to secure admissions for their children. Even today it remains the same academic yet a prestigious schools there. I had a huge task of first copying the homeworks, classworks of the last 6 months in just one month’s time and be ready for the half yearly exams.
It was tough, tiring and daunting. But, I must have done it to pass in the half yearly with awesome marks except in English!
When the English teacher, Mrs Vijayan, started to discuss each one’s paper, my world sank down with each roll call.
I still remember very vividly, the calmness in the face of the teacher who was oblivious to my heart beats beating beyond any fast trains in those days. She said, “Madhurie, do you think in Hindi and translate in English?”
I tell you, I could feel my cheeks and my ears burning with the heat of embarrassment. All the students were quite. No one said anything then or ever after. That was a bliss I still cherish. My ears had stopped to send anything more to my brain that she was talking. I came back home and must have felt pathetic. Honestly, I do not recall if I cried or not. But, I do remember sitting quietly for the very long time, not eating my food until my brain was cleared by a solution, that I got in my dream!
Yes! I get many of my problems solved in my dreams and I follow the path diligently.
I had seen in my dream, that I am surrounded by a pile of books all around me and I am reading them one by one.
I did not need to really hunt for books. My father had a collection of management related books, self help books and all sorts of books in a big wooden rack. I started to read them one by one. And no I did not just read them. I memorized the good sentences, phrases or passages by heart. At that time, I had really good memory. By the end of my vacation, I had read 20 books and could recall the lines, words and phrases from any books that ranged from “The Autobiography of Lee Iacocca” to ” The Autobiography of a Yogi” ! Of course, I have to date never shared it with anyone except with a few parents who have visited me.
We again had our term exam very soon after the school reopened. Mrs Vijayan, called me and asked me how I was doing and what I did in my vacation time. Of course I did not mention to her about my tryst with those 20 books! She put her arms around my shoulder and said, ” Whatever you did in the vacation, continue it!” Whenever someone elderly holds me by my shoulder, I can get really emotional even now! Teachers, back then knew how to praise or encourage without really pumping the ego of any student.
I am not claiming that my English is superb. But, what I am trying to convey to you all is that firstly, it’s possible with hard work to achieve anything and secondly had I studied from the beginning in a school that enforced compulsory conversation in English, I would have probably, put in that extra hard work in understanding other subjects too.