I made a dramatic entry into this world.Or so I was led to believe. My father was a doctor in the army. He was transferred to Madras from Bangalore and was asked to report immediately. My mom was either over confident about my father’s capabilities or she lacked confidence to protest so she accompanied him bag and baggage plus an older son and a mother in law even though she was eight and a half months pregnant. After all it was an overnight’s journey and all she had to do was to sleep through the night. But God willed otherwise. She had to disembark at Jolarpet and I was born at the Railway hospital around the time she expected to reach Madras. My grandmother arrived in Madras bag and baggage minus her son and daughter in law with a four year old grandson accompanying her. My dad was a good narrator and he made me feel like a heroine of Hindi films, right from the time I could understand his words. He repeated the story of my birth to anyone who was willing (or unwilling) to listen. However, others in the extended family were less charitable. I was a darkling born to fair skinned parents and both sides of the family were quick to disown me. My father’s sisters said that I looked like my mother’s brother and sister and my mother’s family swore that I was an exact replica of my dad’s sisters. Had it not been for my dad I might have been traumatised. He made me feel that I was God’s special gift to him. There were times when I’d wonder if I actually belonged to another family and if there had been an exchange of babies in the railway hospital. I would invariably end up deciding that even if my ‘real’ parents came asking for me I’d never ever agree to go with them! I remember asking my father why I was dark when he was fair. He would reply that all children were born dark but became fair when they drank a lot of milk. I really believed him and after drinking a glass of milk I’d invariably check out if I had indeed become fairer.
My mother was, by nature, a quiet person but I remember her being a very caring person from my earliest memories of her. I had never seen her openly agitated or aggressive. She neither defended nor offended me.But in her own way she left a lasting impression on me. As a child she would tell me not to waste food.
“ Goddess Annapoorna will cry if you waste food.”she would say “ She’ll say ‘with so many children going without food, this little girl wastes so much of it’.” Being my dad’s daughter, I’d visualise a Goddess with crown and jewels sitting by a well and crying on account of me.
I owe it to my fifth grade teacher who made me realise that it is the ‘mind’ that matters in the long run. She was Miss Claire who was perhaps the best teacher I’ve ever had. She was our class teacher and for the first time in my life I was selected to play an important role in a play. According to her, my pronounciation was good and with a little effort I’d be fine. I was so grateful to her that I decided to give the role my best shot. After all I could not afford to let her down! The play was a success with not only me but each of those who had a role in it feeling proud to have been part of the group. She instilled a confidence that continues to remain with me till this day. The good thing about her was that she made each one of us feel special. Even the weakest student could approach her without fear. She would give us responsibilities and trust us to live up to her expectations and for our part we’d take them rather seriously.Today I realise the value of having her for a teacher during my formative years.God bless you Miss Claire wherever you may be!
Each child should be made to feel special and wanted. They too nurse a good amount of self respect.Unfortunately, due to our busy schedule, we are not able pay much attention to their feelings. Let us atleast refrain from making insensitive remarks. Children today face so much competition and this is perhaps the least we can do for them.