Years back as a 6-year-old, I went and gave my name for the essay writing contest in Carmel convent, Udhampur. The topic was – My Pet Dog. My mom helped me learn the essay which she had prompted me to write. After several drafts, the final one was selected & okayed by her. Except the first line which she scratched out and wrote, yet again. It now began thus: That small little brown puppy sitting on my doorstep is Tommy.
I do not remember much of what followed after that, except that I did go and write my essay in the competition and that soon afterwards, Dad was posted out to Srinagar.
Since we would most of the time get transferred to new places in the middle of academic sessions, this was the case here too and I vaguely recall travelling in the army officers bus with Dad to Srinagar to give the entrance test at Presentation Convent, Srinagar for grade 2. Needless to add that I had not completed grade 1 at Carmel Convent, Udhampur.
Admission done into Grade 2 at Presentation Convent, Srinagar, we packed and were to leave Udhampur after the customary 2 months of packing time/ movement period, when Dad visited my old school at Udhampur to ask for what is popularly called a ‘TC’ in India. An important school leaving proof document, pretty stern sounding but whose full form is a mundane: Transfer Certificate. But the Mother Superior at Carmel Convent, Udhampur told my father that she would not able to issue this ‘TC’ to me for she had one pending task left to be done. And I was summoned to school.
Imagine the plight of a 6-year-old who has been asked to come to a school she is no longer a part of and an important document not issued till she meets the Mother Superior. As I write this, I now realize that the subsequent outcome of that visit always led to the focus shifting elsewhere and I never got to ask my father whether he had been told why I was being called to school & whether he was hand n glove with the Mother Superior in scaring the wits out of me.
And ‘being scared’ was the only vivid thing I remember of that impending visit.
As it turned out, I was greeted in the Mother Superior’s larder (for schools had closed for winter vacations) and then marched to the auditorium where the lights were switched on and Lo and behold what followed has stayed forever in my memory. I was called on stage and the Mother Superior gave me my certificate for standing First in the Essay Competition, in the whole school!! (those days the competitions used be for the whole school with no segregation of Primary, Middle and Senior schools worked in – and imagine we competed with the whole lot and have come out just fine! No scarred for life, no defective pieces – leave aside the thinking-too-much-feeling-too-much defects!! No offense anyone & “malice to none” – Thank you my dear Icon!! The referred person would understand I am sure!)
The purpose of boring everyone with this narrative was to tell you of the impact of that one and first prize I won for my writing. And the reason why I kept on writing since a six-year-old.
The impact was phenomenal – for I haven’t stopped writing since. The reason for this has been my Mom and her belief in and love for my juggling with words.
As I scribbled behind bills, on newspaper corners, on old diary pages, behind envelopes, on cards – never on the regular kind of new fresh paper – she kept on picking up those bills, pieces of paper and compiling them in a file (would be found somewhere in the papers tucked away amongst the files, at my dad’s home).
Always saying that I wrote well and someday she would get my work published.
I would roll up my eyes in disbelief, shake my head some more and throw up my hands in the air and say to her: Love you Mom! Never believing in myself like she believed in me.
Today as I almost have a book to my name – soon: T minus 14 days and counting!! – I kept on remembering her even more.
Love you Mom! I dedicate my book: The Deccan Trailblazers – Education Icons of Hyderabad to you!