My first teacher

The first teacher of my school of life once told me that I am not a bad student. She said this when I informed her that I haven’t done well in my exam. She said I haven’t done well because I did not prepare well. She then assured me, I can do much better, only if I want to. She did not say much. I appeared for the same exam next year. I did pretty well this time. The course of my life changed.

The convictions of Ma created in me a will to excel. She knew that no one can be rescued or guided by someone else’s beliefs. Ma knew conviction and confidence can’t be forced upon, but come through self-realization. Conviction is not enough. One needs a matching intellect to do well. A mismatch between will and intellect results in discontent.

Perhaps failure awakened my dormant intellect.

The intellect is not an extension of someone’s beliefs. It comes imprinted on the grey slate we are born with. Intellect is inborn and can be chiselled and polished. Here too Ma played a role. Ma saw imminent danger in my failure. She would not have succeeded had she enforced her ‘will’ upon me. She used restraint, because she had faith in me.

The year Ma got married she was eighteen years old, and had just completed her Intermediate. She wanted to be a graduate. After the marriage there was a big gap, but that did not deter her. She completed her graduation as a private student along with me. Once I asked Ma, why did she go for graduation after such a long gap? She said she wanted to get photographed wearing the black graduation robe prevalent those days.

When I did not do well in the exam, my mother must have been upset, but she could also see the potential in me. She did not parrot me. But she gave me the courage to say that I can root out my insecurities and self-doubts. She gave me the confidence, that ‘I can do it’.

After so many years, perhaps, I know why she decided to continue her studies. She wanted to give me company as a student, as a friend. She wanted to give me courage and conviction that if she can do it at her age, why her son can’t do it. My family celebrated my success. I am still celebrating my mother’s success, as a mother and as a teacher in my school of life.

I am so fortunate that I got the tutelage of a rule-breaker mother.