All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
My class had a girl by the name of Preeti. Preeti was detested by everyone in the class. She was snubbed, insulted and teased a lot. She was this thin and bland looking girl who always sat in the corner of the classroom and stuffed potato chips in her mouth without caring a damn as to who looked. She didn’t care what the others thought about her, how she did in studies or how she fared in the behavior section specified by the teachers. The only thing she ever cared about was her leg whose use she had lost when she was five and had got polio. She moved around her motorized wheelchair, moaning about how useless and foolish she was.
Once, I spotted her in the playground, watching the other kids play Basketball. In our school, people who played BB were considered ‘popular’. Preeti had often expressed her desire to play the game and become one of the ‘popular cliques’, though she knew crystal clear as we did that she couldn’t. I walked up to her.
“Why are you always shying away from others? Why do you consider yourself weak? Why don’t you go out there and prove our worth?” The words tumbled out of my mouth uncontrollably, as if they had been chained in for aeons and longed for freedom to express themselves.
“Because I have no worth, dear girl,” she said, her voice cold, “I am not a first ranker like you. God forgot to give me brains. Nor has he given me beauty or health.”
“God has made you human,” I said, “And given you a comfortable life. And as for brains, everyone has them. You just have to master the art to use them.”
“There is no such art.”
“Why, there is! How do you think I get the first rank? I can teach you. ”
I looked at her dubious face. The harshness was softening. Finally after a little bit more convincing, she agreed. “Meet me after school,” I told her.
She met me in the hall after the entire school left. Well, the entire school, except for Austin, a smart second ranker boy in our class. He managed to impress almost any teacher with his classic good looks and brightness. So when he spotted me teaching the different orders of the class reptilian, he stepped in to the conversation.
“Hello girls! Learning science?”
“Which is terribly hard,” Preeti exclaimed, “How will I differentiate between Rhychocephlia and Squamata?”
“I told you Preeti…….” I sighed, exasperated by her constant questions. I had taught her the orders twice and still she was asking me such a stupid question?
“See Preeti,” Austin said, his sincere brown eyes filled with concern, “Just remember Squamata has saurian and serpentes, remember the Sauron from the Lord of the rings. As for serpentes, just think of the serpent of Salazar Slytherin of Harry Potter. You will recollect all the answers if you take interest in studies in such a way.”
Preeti nodded, flabbergasted. She had always spoken about how snobbish Austin was being perfect in all aspects. He turned out to be the exact opposite.
I couldn’t help but feel that Austin was a great teacher. He made the toughest of subjects the easiest for Preeti. He was her new teacher; both him and I knew that. He made Maths look like a bunch of numbers just to be put right, SST as the most interesting subject on earth and science as a child’s play. Preeti’s performance elevated, much to the pleasure and astonishment of the teachers. Then she had transformed from back bencher to ‘scholar girl’. All the teachers and students approached her with a much different attitude when she stood third in the class. Life was just as she wanted it to be, she had been involved in all the happenings of the popular cliques. The next two years she spent in the school were beautiful for her. Austin, the jock, was her best friend. He too left school when she did.
I wasn’t in contact with them for the next seven years or so. But when I was walking on the streets one fine morning with my sister, I spotted both of them, arm in arm. Preeti saw me and waved.
What I found out from her was this. She and Austin were married. She was a writer and he was a teacher for the mentally and physically challenged. He also taught in D.Y. Patil medical college. Life was perfect for them, and she said it was all thanks to Austin.
Even today, when I recount the incident, I am filled with a special respect for Austin’s patience and selfless nature and Preeti’s determination. I always knew they had a special bond and also knew she would realize her dreams someday. And the two lines she sent me as a message when I wrote to her about how lucky she was to have Austin who helped her so much, she replied,
‘The person who started all this, who had confidence in me, who told me I could do it, shook me out of my reverie is the true person who changed my life. And that person was you.’