‘I want to become a pilot.’ I had answered when the class teacher had asked me what I want to become when I grow up. I was in second standard then. It was my dream to fly the plane into the sky. I had flied it in my imagination a thousand times. I would pass through the clouds. From the sky the mountains on the earth looked liked matchboxes and houses were just specs. I wanted to grow at the earliest so that my dream would shape into reality. So I would eat all the vegetables including those which were leafy and drink milk. ‘If you eat leafy vegetables and drink milk daily you will grow soon.’ Aai, my mother had told me.
As I grew something changed. Something changed within me and something changed around me. I became a victim of partiality. My teachers were highly partial towards those students who took their private tuitions. They paid more attention towards them. They also gave them extra-marks. I still remember when I was in eighth I had written that betel nut was a monocot plant and my biology teacher had marked it as wrong. I went and requested her to reconsider my answer. ‘betel nut is a monocot plant.’ I told again.
‘Your tongue has started to waggle too much. Still there are marks of internal assessment in my hands. Do not forget it.’ She said. I was disturbed. What sin had I committed. I had just told her that my answer was correct. But she became defensive and even threatened to assign lesser marks in the internal assessment.
I was disturbed. I cried a lot. I did not feel like going to school. Going to school meant facing those obnoxious teachers again. I lost all the interest in studies. But my parents compelled me to go to school daily.
But I couldn’t live with injustice. One day I went to the Principal’s cabin. I told her all that had happened. ‘If this is the case then it is very wrong.’ She herself was a biology teacher before she became Principal. She knew betel nut was a monocot plant. She summoned my biology paper. The biology teacher was summoned. She took the defence that I was very argumentative and did not respect the teachers. ‘But betel nut is a monocot plant.’ The Principal said and the biology teacher was silenced.
The Principal said, ‘My dear Mahesh, I am glad that you stood up for justice. For others it may seem a very small thing. But you had a valid point. There is no harm in raising voice when things are going wrong. Many time adults do not like pointing their mistakes. They feel that they are always right. But the way you presented your case was excellent. These skills will take you a very long way. I think you should become a lawyer. You have inborn skills for that profession. When I am saying this I am not joking. I am offering you serious advice. Think over it.’