Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Becoming Men

This is one incident from my school days which I remember vividly. I was in XII at that time.

Being the senior most class in the school, we all used to be very smug and sometimes even haughty. Except for one teacher or may be two, we had good relationships with all our teachers. It used to be a very friendly but hyper-charged environment in the class during those crazy days of studies and preparations for board exams.

A male teacher whom I would call 'A' sir was our class teacher. A sir was a popular teacher among senior school students and even more popular among the alumni of the school. I liked him too. He taught us English.

I was a volunteer for the school assembly which means I helped junior students get in line during the assembly and morning prayers. My duties also included helping the class monitors check their classmates for proper uniforms, particularly on Saturday which was the P.T. day. I took my duties as a volunteer a bit too seriously. I used to be very strict and took deep pride in wearing the badge

That year we had a new principal whom I would call Sister B. She had a panache of organizing some or other extracurricular activity every weekend. It didn't matter even if we had exams Not that it was bad, we used to enjoy them but as the term progressed, she went overboard with her innumerable social and cultural and god knows what events.

We had just finished with the annual cultural event at the school and now the board exams were fast approaching. We were all in the mood of serious studying. Just then the principal came with the idea of having a 'moral-value exhibition' that weekend. Only with her it was not an idea and we all had to simply cooperate. She had already made up her mind and nothing would make her change it.

In the class we had a heated discussion with A sir about the exhibition and even he was of the opinion that this exhibition was frivolous and we could all do without it. I was so opposed to the idea that I decided to resign from being a volunteer as a token of protest. I figured that was the only way in which I could let my opposition known to the principal.

After the lecture I went to A sir and took out my badge and gave it to him. I no longer wanted to be a volunteer. I was willing to let go of a job which I so dearly loved and which was a matter of pride for me. It was then that A sir talked to me. He told me he knew how much I valued my volunteer's badge and he told me he knew my feelings. He told me that even he was not in the favor of the exhibition but he was contributing to it nonetheless. It was a simple matter of obeying your superiors. Therefore, I should also take a part.

I did take a part in the exhibition and the event was a success. The chairman of the municipality was the chief guest and he was impressed by the show. Funny I remember these details.

What is not funny that I remember that day as when I became an adult. In those few minutes when I was talking to A sir, I was transformed from a boy to a man. He made me understand a very simple fact of life:

"....Courage to change the things I cannot accept and humility to accept the things I cannot

I am indebted to him for the rest of my life.