A Moment of Optimism
I was eleven – A sixth standard student.
I went back to my school after a day’s leave. I knew that some of the answer papers had been distributed. And I was dead scared of my Mathematics paper. I did not like Maths and I wasn’t fond of my teacher. We did not like the way she taught. Besides, she was too strict and not much friendly.
I got to know from my friends that the Math paper had after all been distributed. My paper was with someone in the class. It must be with one of the bright students and so I approached Neha and asked her.
“Yes your paper is with me.”
“Please don’t tell me the marks. I’ll find it out when I see it.”, I did not want to get embarrassed when she ‘told me’ the marks, we made eye contact and you know, the awkward moment.
“But I did pass, didn’t I?”, I never failed. I was an average student whose grades just shot up during my terminal examinations. I lingered in 65s and 70s until the last moment and during the year end exams, I would end up close to 85s. never failed. But many times, I got close to the borderline.
“I passed right?”, I asked not sure whether she heard me.
She shook her head, “No you didn’t”
“Oh!”, though I felt miserable, I kept my face normal. I could do that naturally. It never took much effort.
I had got 14 out of 50. I had failed for the first time and I felt useless. My Math teacher fired me left, right and center. I got the rest from home and my mother had decided to send me for tuition. God! I hated them! They made me feel like a dumb kid.
I began to hate Math. Until the previous year, I loved the subject. But this year, it was either my failure or the algebra that had brought the ill feeling towards the subject. I mean how can ‘x’ be the number of fruits or tables or chairs!? How can x be a number at all? Besides, how can x*y be xy? Then, 2*3 should be 23!!! 😮
We were almost halfway through the academic year and I was going from bad to worse, my teacher was all the more rude to me and my parents were worried. I hated going to school, to tuition and going home. To top it all, our teacher decided to give us an oral quiz relating to Algebra. The marks would be added to our final marks. I tried learning or rather mugging up some of the formulae. But I was sure that I wasn’t going to crack it.
The Math hour began and all of us were tensed. My teacher began asking questions. As each child answered, I kept praying that there should be someone who wouldn’t answer, to keep me company. After around five children’s turn, our teacher asked a question that the girl couldn’t answer. She decided to carry forward the question to the rest. After some time, she said, “Nobody has answered this question so far. Until this question is answered, I won’t be asking anymore questions. Whoever answers this right, will get a munch from me.”
“Woooow! Oooooh!”, the whole class echoed. Munch was the recent chocolate in the market and most of us hadn’t tasted it. So it was a lottery for us.
All of us listened to the answers. We had no idea what the real answer was. Whenever she reached one of the nerd students, I was sure that he or she would crack it and our teacher would just say, “That is it!”. But she didn’t respond to any of the answers. She would point out the right answer only at the end. Finally, it was my turn. I got up and answered and felt relieved that it was over.
Finally, all had answered. It was my teacher’s turn.
“I heard all your answers. However, just one of you answered it right. Do you know who that is?”
“Neha!” some shouted. She shook her head in the negative.
“Vinay!”, was the next obvious name.
After some more likely nerd names came up, we all stopped guessing.
She said, “Ranjini said it right.”
I sat there wide eyed. I had only guessed. I just decided to give an answer that no one had given so far. I don’t even know how I said it. Maybe she heard it wrong.
“Yes. You answered x2y2 square right?”
“No ma’am I answered x2 into y2.”
“Yes. It is the right answer. See? You can do it if you want to. I will get your Munch tomorrow.”
I was flying. After a long while, I felt elated. I felt light and happy. Though I had only guessed it, that motivation was all I had needed. It was pure joy! And from that moment, I began to try. My score increased and Math wasn’t a bad subject anymore. Soon, I understood Algebra and grew fond of the area. I still love it. 🙂
That one moment, brought back my love for Math. Don’t you want to know what the question was? Easy as it may seem now, it was, ‘What is xy*xy?”
I said, “x2*y2” 🙂
That was the day I learnt that It just takes a moment to bring back the optimism in us.
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