To-day’s article is about something that has been bothering me for a while, to which I could not find a satisfying solution. In all my nineteen-and-a-half years, nearly no one had been able to say “I’m sorry” in front of me – to my face. I have almost no problem doing so myself (in others’ faces, not mine, I mean), but what is it about my face that people don’t feel like apologising?
They have no problem saying “Thank you”, though…
And I am talking about people other than all my friends—my family, my relatives, the teachers I had to tolerate… Not one of them has been able to tell me “I am sorry”. Oh – and they do expect me to! I feel a little weird – more than annoyed – when that happens.
I shall give you a couple of examples:
The Whacko New Teacher
This happened in January 2014. I had this really idiotic teacher for Biology – and, mind you, I was doing XII standard then – and, although I did go to tuitions for Math, Physics, and Chemistry, Biology had been left for self-study – quite literally, although I did get help from my friends and, sometimes, my Chemistry tuition teacher (the one who, to my disappointment, said that we both were sisters!!). So, this whacko (whoa – Swetha’s going to be proud of me!) teacher came to our school after our summer vacation, which means that, the extra classes for XII students were already done. Anyhow, she was tall and lean, and, I sensed, extremely ugly underneath. I mean no offense to anybody except that teacher, because I have a genuine cause to despise her very much. Apparently (i.e., as she had told us) she taught at a girls’ school for twelve years before then, and had got a good ranking as a teacher—some 96% or something. However, we had problems ever since she first came to the class.
She simply assumed (and I loathe people who do this) that every one of us twenty (Biology) students were taking tuition classes in the subject – just because a handful of them were – and taught us without writing down a single difficult technical term on the board – the way our last Biology ma’am would – the way any other teacher would!! Her diagrams were fine, but she was an extremely proud person. So, she had some corners to be rubbed off…
I tolerated her, and tried to listen to everything she said. But, when I started to practically fail in Biology (and this never happened with the other ma’am, the one we loved), I realised that this new teacher was no good at all! As usual, I complained of this to my mother. My mother promised to do something at the first parent-teacher meeting that year (ah yes, we used to have that silliness – but, thank goodness we students didn’t have to go!) that was held one Saturday.
When she came back home, Mother told me all that had happened between that whacko teacher and her. Apparently, my mother had suggested the former buy charts to explain, instead of drawing on the board; she had also suggested that important terms be written on the board.
Pat came an instant reply – in the form of scorn. It was delivered to us the next Monday, during the Biology class. She came in, absolutely furious, set down her things, and turned towards the class. I still remember the scene in the classroom almost accurately in my head. So, she turned towards us and told us how she used to get good rankings back in her old school, and how very disappointed she was that we had gone back home and told our parents about her teaching skills. Basically saying, “Why the dickens did you have to go and tell your parents about how bad I teach?! Is it not enough that I hate my teaching myself!?” Yes, she was pathetic – as she proved to us during the rest of the year.
Oh – and I came home and told this to my mother, who was actually probably feeling sorry for the pathetic teacher!
Then, more incidents similar to this took place, but none of them as bad or even as major as the one I am about to describe. Listen carefully please. I know that most of my readers have been told this (by me, of course), but I would like more to know, so they can feel that not all teachers are wise Lakshmis.
This happened during my Biology practical board examinations. All three practical exams were conducted in our school itself, so we knew where all the heavy machinery was. By this time, I had quite ‘proved’ to that whacko Biology teacher that I was worthless in studies (you’re going to be shocked as you read more). Then, two or three days before the exam, my ninth standard Biology ma’am – of whom I am in awe of – who also teaches XI and XII Biotechnology, had probably got wind of my ‘pathetic condition’ but nevertheless, she must have had faith in me, for she indirectly wished me for my exam; basically saying that she gave me advice. I accepted it graciously (as gracious as I could possibly be). This was also the day that Megha…well, set off every bomb she could! 😀
The day of the exam is my main focus here. I had to do some two or three experiments – and the rest were spotting experiments. We were all given some two-two-half hours. By the time I could write conclusions for two experiments, I was called for the spotting experiment and so, I left them to deal with later, after the spottings. Meanwhile, as I wrote my observations and came back to my desk, the whacko ma’am had to choose that time to come and drivel to me about not drawing the spot fish properly and not writing the conclusions. She tried to make me copy first from Niharika and then from Surabhi (or it could have been the other way around); although I tried my best to avoid copying, she forced me – and I ended up committing a sin I vowed never to force anybody else into – even myself.
The only thought that kept me sane was something that the overseeing teacher had told me, to encourage me, since I was so down in the dumps and sure that I was going to fail again, just like I did many times before. She told me about how I could score the passing mark by just focusing on the topics I really liked. (And that is what I did – but, again, that is not the focus of this story.)
And then, a few minutes later, when the whacko ma’am came to my seat again, she was so disgusted with my work, that she said, “I know you are good for nothing!” – actually said so in such an sickened tone of voice that I wanted to punch her in the face (as usual) and tell her what things I was better at, and what I thought of her. But, decently, I did not. Which only, probably, made her gloat over me more.
I came straight home and told of this to my mother. She was actually angry at that psycho and decided, probably, to teach her a lesson soon. Her time came on Saturday, 01 February 2014. Till then, she comforted me that God will take care of people like that psycho Biology ma’am. I hung on to those words. (I know Mother must be really surprised at this! 😉 )
Soon, our Chemistry, Physics, and Computer Science practicals were all done. We were partying – till it was time to study for the Boards, of course! But, before that, we had our Farewell Party. The day before, i.e., on Friday, 31 January 2014, the Olympiad – or some such exam – was held, and all my friends and most of the class were off, expect for a few girls and a few more boys. As our class were occupied by juniors writing their exams, we had to take ‘refuge’ in the Chemistry lab. Both Chemistry ma’am and Physics ma’am had classes to attend to. So, our class teacher gave us the whole exam-time off, as games period (here, I’m sure she took permission). The rest of the class took off, except a few like me.
Who should I be left with but Ipsita and the new XII standard girl whose name I do not particularly want to remember?
Well, I didn’t want to be left behind, so I asked Ipsita if she would go to the ground with me, but she refused – as usual. I was nervous to go all on my own, since they caught students wandering around with no good reason – games wasn’t. I went a little way, but when I came back and saw what was happening inside the Chemistry lab we had all left , I at once made up my mind to take off once again – and think later! So, I went; I caught up with Surabhi and her friends. They were kind enough to accept me into their group when I asked them. I still cherish that morning.
Now coming back to the Chemistry lab for a moment, who should be left in-charge of the students left behind but that whacko Biology teacher? So, now you know why I left in a hurry. 😀
Then, two hours or so later, at break time, I was back in the Chemistry lab, having taken leave of my classmates, when the Chemistry ma’am came back and told me to tell everybody else to shift their bags to the Physics lab next door (the exam was still going on) – and to take ‘refuge’ there. I said that I would, and took mine and my friends’ bag. I also told every classmate I could find thereafter to do the same. As I settled the bags onto a table in the Physics lab, some teachers began trickling in, including the Physics ma’am. You see, about six or so teachers, other than the Physics ma’am, came there for their break times every day.
Who should be one of them but the whacko Biology ma’am?
She approached me as I was taking out my snack box and, in a pretend subdued voice, told me to bring my mother to her at the Farewell Party the next day, when she would be in the school anyways. By then, I had begun to adopt an attitude of ignorance towards her; so, I simply nodded my head coldly, with not a trace of a smile on my face. She went away. I told my friends of this later, after eleven of the clock, when they had begun to trickle out of the library after their exam. (By then, they had known of that whacko ma’am’s betrayal the other day.)
I came home crying and told my mother about it. She coolly told me not to worry; that she would tackle with the situation somehow and that I should leave it completely in her hands. I did so, as much as I could.
The next evening, we had our Farewell Party. After Dinner, my friends had gone to say goodbye to the Biology ma’am; I had not been aware of this, but was glad of having missed the opportunity of doing so. I went around with them to say goodbye to the rest of the teachers, excited. I knew I was going to miss my Chemistry ma’am, since she had been very good to me the two years I had studied under her. And I knew I shan’t miss my Physics ma’am, since she was very mean to weaklings like me – weak in her subject, I mean.
Then, in the end, Megha’s family was to drop my mother and me (my father was out of town that weekend) off at our apartment; so, after saying goodbye to my friends, I went out the gate with her. The gate, which was usually a wide, sliding one, was now open such that, it was just enough for one person to pass through at a time, if he/she did so sideways, like a crab. First Megha went through, followed by me. As I was doing so, I saw the whacko Biology ma’am standing to my right; so, in order to avoid talking to her and to let her know that, I deliberately turned my back to her as I went through the gate – literally cold-shouldered her. My mother was behind me and, as might have been expected, Whacko Ma’am stopped her to have a chat. I suppose she expected to tell Mother how bad I was at her subject and say that that was why she said what she did on the day of the practical exam. However, she definitely did not expect the nasty shock she received instead, as I was to know later.
Back home, Mother told me what happened between the two. Whacko Ma’am had told my mother that she was sorry she said those things to me the other day and that was because she was tensed. My mother had been cold as she told her that someone as old as her should not say such things to a student and it was very irresponsible of her, and so and so, till Whacko Ma’am actually began to feel bad (according to my mother). She had told Mother to let me know that I can go to her for clarifications; and that she knew it would be very hard for me to forgive her. Clarifications, my foot!! As if she even taught properly in class! She left out a major portion of female reproductive organs simply because she was too nervous to take it up with four boys (the only ones for Biology) in the class!
Anyhow, Mother said that I should forgive her now. I did so, immediately, but never as much as talked to her – and I never felt the need to, since after that day, we had study vacation and then, exams. And then, vacation for me, to apply for colleges for Bachelor of Arts in History. I had been perfectly happy since; I enjoyed cold-shouldering her, even during the prayer-time in the Chemistry lab, just before boarding the buses to our exam centre.
I keep wondering why Whacko Ma’am was so afraid to apologise to me to my face…
The Orthodox Aunt
If anybody outside of my circle of family and friends had known of this, this particular family, whose father happens to be the brother of my mother, would probably have avoided doing anything to annoy me. It was the day after the house-warming ceremony of our Napa Valley house, Bangalore, when this family was preparing to leave. Mother was giving them the traditional return gifts to the mother and the father. She had one taambulam in her hand, and she requested me, nearby, to get the other. I found it in a tray and separated it from the tray, which was my mistake—I lost my control over the things in my hands (or, rather, arms). So, I asked Sunandhitha, the eldest daughter, who was nearby reading a Tinkle, to help me; saying so, I bent down and was about to place the things in her hands, when every one of her family – including her – screamed at the tops of their voices. I retrieved my arms, confusion all over my face. I was so embarrassed, especially since they didn’t tell me why they screamed.
Apparently, after I disappeared, they told my parents, and everybody present there, that Sunandhitha’s cycles were going on then. When Father told me of this later, when we came back to our rented home, I recollected something of the sort happening earlier that incident, but had not taken any notice of it at the time. Apparently, they follow this orthodox norm of untouchability during cycle-period. Father said that they probably assumed, due to familial closeness, that we would understand that and respect them. How should I know about that matter when they scream like and not explain later?
Oh – and who respects a family of screamers???
And, to top it all, they had not even apologised for how they had behaved that day – not even as I write this all down. You see, that Aunt seems to be quite fond of me, but – I suppose this thought might have been at the back of my mind for a while now – it may simply have been like “She’s such a superb creature on the outside” – you know, you fall in love with a person for who is on the outside and not because how he/she is in his/her heart, mostly because you do not know at all. For this reason, in a self-assessment test, I called myself a rose.
So, coming back to that incident in question, what did the ignorant me think? That I should not hand over the taambulam to anybody but the person intended to!
And the funny thing is that, I had been having the feeling, before that day, that this sort of thing would happen soon, with that very family. Now, when I meet them or talk to them on the phone, I act very coolly towards them – them only – and not take any interest in their affairs, as I would have done earlier.
Like I said before, I hate people who assume – me included. So now, they don’t have a clue as to why I am behaving like that towards them. My parents do, though they probably think it is childish. But, let me tell you I have forgiven them. Why? Now, that is a big puzzle…
But all the same, don’t you feel that I had forgiven all these people unjustly? Well, I do.
Now, you know more about me, don’t you? Take care not to fall into my bad books then! 😉
Best of luck, my readers!
Sayonara! See you in my next article!
P.S. You know, whenever I talk to people or discuss something with them, I always feel like I am boring them to death. Now, I know why! 😀