Having gone through such a traumatic experience i expected to behave in a such a manner that from the next time anybody needed to be disciplined my name would be quoted as an ideal example to follow. I hoped my name would be exalted as the model of discipline that everyone should follow. So i thought as i stepped out of the room having done the impossible, becoming the only student whose name was in the list of 20 to get admitted. And i seriously believed every word of what i thought at that moment.
However, fate had other plans in store for me. It showed me how little i knew of myself, and how naive i was in thinking that change was so easy and permanent.
The 6th standard brought about 2 things that would stay on in my life.
1. Vasanthi Aunty.
Though the two might read differently on screen or print, to me they came to mean the very same thing, a belief that nobody ever gave me before. For the first time in my life i couldn’t believe that somebody would go out of their way to teach delinquents like me Suprabatham and Astothram by including it in the Human Values Syllabus and making us learn it and recite it, simply because she found most of us never even knew 2 lines after attending Suprabatham and Astothram for a good 6 years.
This was also the first year when we had access to additional books apart from those that we had to read in the library. The 6th and 7th standard classrooms were stocked with encyclopedias a couple of alphabets for each section(including the girls classrooms), with the rest of the books being scattered among the higher classes of the girls classrooms. Since i had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, i ran through the ones in our class in the first week of school reopening, and from then began to think of where i could get more of these wonderful books that showed me so much of the world that i never knew existed(although i had already run through the complete ‘Tell Me Why’ series at Jhansamma’s house during Holidays, those were more science-oriented, while this was general-purpose).
Needless to say, i ran through the two books in our class within 3 days, and soon had to begin looking for other ways to get more books. So i began the ‘great clandestine exchange’. Every week i would take the 2 books from our class cupboard and exchange it quietly with 2 others from another classroom. This way by the time 3 months were up had run through the whole series of the alphabet, and was left wishing there were more letters in the English alphabet. On one such day, Vasanthi Aunty was taking a class one day and suddenly she asked us what a Beagle was. Immediately i raised my hand and rattled off about it, and went to the cupboard and brought out the book i had just finished (the letters B and C), and showed her the picture of a Beagle. She was so pleased, her eyes were beginning to glint with the first drops of moistness.
Immediately she told me only one thing. “Thandav, when you become big, and become an IAS Officer, and when you come to see me, you must bring sweets.” “Gladly”, i told her. Sadly fate decided otherwise, and am nowhere near interested to becoming one, however, one thing i can promise her, i will definitely take sweets for her. One day i hope to keep the promise.
That year-ending, Pandu and Thatha garu came to take me home, and they were discussing with HM Aunty something when i entered the room. Apparently it was something good about me, because everyone was all smiles when i entered. Then the conversation continued, and HM Aunty asked me “What will you become when you grow big?”. Without batting an eyelid, i replied “An IAS Officer”. Everyone’s eyes just popped out. “Why?” they collectively asked. I knew the answer but couldn’t tell them so, and therefore told me because everyone in my class tells me it is a nice job. The real answer was because i wanted to get sweets for Vasanthi Aunty.
to be continued… …