Friday, September 8, 2017

Grown up, dignity – down

I had just changed the school and it was my first day at my new school. As a new student, my uniform was not ready for the first day. Thus, I was in casual dress. In addition to that, I also did not possess the complete set of my textbooks. I had bought some books before the school hour and it turned out that rest of them would arrive only after a week. I was utterly disappointed. At the very first day, I had no uniform, only half text books with me and frightened to the bones as I marched towards the new school for the very first time with a long face, of course.

The first day was eventful as most of the teachers asked me about my uniform and books, as I introduced myself to them. Time ticked slow and in the third period, a giant (giant in a sense that she was tall and bulky and her high heels aided to that too) lady teacher entered the class-room. She introduced herself as an English teacher and after she shared some laughs, she started the very first lesson. It was a poem by Late Indian poet Harindranath Chattopadhyay ( sorry I forgot the name of the exact poem but remember his name because it seemed funny to me at that time). She made us write the poem in our exercise-book and so we did. As soon as we copied it, the period was over and before she left, she asked us to memorize the poem by the next day. We all nodded and she left.

Fast forward to the next day; she entered and asked if we memorized it. Faint mixture of ‘yes and no’ voice was vaguely heard and disappeared in the thin air quickly. Without losing a single moment, she made us stand up one by one and asked us to recite the poem from our memory. Only some did and many could not, including myself. And she asked us to justify the cause of our failure. No wonder, one of the students came up with a cunning excuse. ‘Teacher, I am yet to buy the textbook. Even if I wanted to, I could not memorize the poem.’ That was a valid justification. She asked if there were others with the same reason. Many raised their hands , I did not. Despite not having the textbook with me, I stood up not letting myself pardoned. Many got seated with big sigh of relief in their faces but I did not. We all had copied the poem the previous day in our exercise book. And if we wanted, we could have memorized the poem via that. My friends deceived the teacher. I did not want to do that. I cursed myself for not memorizing the poem. And I thought I deserved the punishment.

I was further asked, by the teacher, the reason of my failure to memorize the poem. I kept quiet. I did not want to demonstrate my honesty (about poem noted down on copies by everyone) as most of my friends got away from being punished with that cunning excuse. Had I told the teacher, they could have been ridiculed. I deserved the punishment and it was no point dragging my friends along with me. It was my idea to punish myself for what I did not do that I was asked of, when it could have been done easily. I was honest to myself. I was right to let me be punished. I was shameful for my failure but proud to what I did subsequently.

Sadly as I write this today, I am no more the same kid. The paragons of virtue, I possessed then, have come downhill. As I swim in my memory lane and meet myself from the past, I hardly can look straight at those honest eyes. Today, I am full of excuses, dishonesty and I lack dignity. At times, when I meet that kid in my memory lane, I get to learn a lot from him. From being that kid to now, I have come a long way, read hundreds of books, experienced a lot and still I remain a grown up with my dignity so down. I have not become better but gotten much worse.

This makes me think of William Wordsworth’s poem ‘The Rainbow’ also known as ‘My Heart Leaps Up’ where he states in the seventh line, ‘The child is the father of the man.’ It has been famously interpreted as ‘the conduct of a child indicates what he will become when he grows up’. But I wonder, if it matches with me? How about the other interpretation that I like and resembles to my situation? “The child could be a source of learning for adults; as far as his innocence, curiosity and honesty are concerned. As we grow up we would have lost them all, and it is time we re-learn them from the child?” This seems fair.

Pic. credit: http://enhanceyourchild.com

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