“Have you ever had any education about this subject; English, in your whole life.”
Stinging words, yes! But, for some reason, these did not hurt me much! After all, truth was spoken for the first time to me in the education domain, and well, just to let you know, those words came from my class teacher; Mrs. Kanda, in 12th standard.
I am not saying I was the brightest of minds when it came to studies till my 10th, but as soon as I arrived in Delhi, leaving the memories of my small town in Rajasthan behind me, during the first month of schooling, I realized that I wasn’t the dumbest either. All I needed to do was, concentrate a bit on what’s being talked about in the class and I could grasp it. Rather easily actually!
Believe it or not, I was a shy guy (I still consider myself one), who did not know how to construct two sentences together and make some meaning out of it. But those words from Kanda Ma’m (as we used to call her), changed my mind and made me determined to change everyone’s perception.
You see, Kanda Ma’m was a lady of finesse and class. A lady who would devote her time to make sure that her students not only did well in her subject (English), but became better at understanding the language and its importance in general life. After all, this is the universal language that bridges the gap between countries and people alike. And for some reason, I had this inclination that she wanted me to improve and do well, not only in her subject, but also as a human being, as a person!
What did I do?
I always had this tendency to write, ever since I was a 14 year old guy, but my poems and other written materials were all in Hindi. However, post that day, I stopped writing or even thinking in Hindi (no disrespect to the language, but there is a certain method to improve yourself in all the domains and in this this was it), and started working on English poems. The catch was, my vocabulary was so weak that I just could not.
One fine day, I sat with a dictionary in my hand and took out about 50 odd words from it. All ranging from love, emotions, pain, dedication, improvisation and thought processes. And using them, out came a poem, my first ever; in ENGLISH!
I have to admit, it wasn’t half as good to what I can write today, but that feeling of accomplishment that I felt that day, still remains unmatched till date, no matter how good or better I have become. That day, I felt I have achieved something for the first time in my life, credits to Mrs. Kanda. Without her words it would not have been possible.
But the story ends not here, I submitted (for some weird reason), that poem to International Library of Poetry via www.poetry.com and guess what happened? The poem was selected by the International Library of Poetry, got published in one of their books and they apparently recorded a song too out of it, for which they mailed me the CD. All of it happened, because of her harsh, but true words.
It ignited the fire within me even harder and pushed me to do even better. I started spending a lot of time reading news papers, re-writing the articles that I would read there and find out new words to make them appear better, started talking to people in English a lot (made a fool out of me on a lot of occasions, but that did not stop me), got to using internet and chatting with people randomly to increase my writing qualities and sharpen the language. The process was time consuming and money consuming too, considering I had no computer at home, and I would spend a lot of money sitting in Cyber Cafes to do such activities, but it was all worth it.
Post that I think I have done quite a bit in my life, when it comes to connection with this language i.e. English! Worked with Gucci, HT CITY, www.stylekandy.com, freelanced for brands like Chasseur Magazine (UK), Sutra Magazine (South Africa), Miss Malini, iDiva before I launched my own Men Centric, Fashion and lifestyle portal – www.stylerug.net and a portal for Academic Writing Solutions recently; www.thewordsolution.com.
Better understandaing of the language combined with skills in journalism also lead me to teach Fashion Journalism for two years in Pearl Academy, Delhi before I opted to move on and concentrate on my own work again.
However, all this meant nothing to that moment which (luckily), I shared with Kanda Ma’m about 4 years ago in an alumni meet at my school (Manav Bharti India International School). Attended by one of the best students of my cohort (most of them working in USA with MNCs and what not), it proved to be a dais to me, wherein, I could hold my head high and say – that woman changed my life, and for good.
As our Principal Ma’m looked and asked around for anyone to come on stage from my cohort to come and share their experience from their school days, none of the guys or girls stood up to talk (stage fear probably), but me. I took it as a chance to thank Mrs. Kanda for the contribution that she had made in my life and turned it round the corner to create a better me. Because in my eyes she was #Madeofgreat. We both did share a drop of tear on the stage and I could see pride that she had in her eyes for me. I felt complete!
In life we look upon people who are #madeofgreat, just like the little Afghan Boy Murtaza Ahmadi, who was seen wearing a plastic jersey with Number 10 couple of years back playing football, inspired by the great Leionel Messi, to be able to achieve our own little dreams.
What the extremists do not realize though is that people who follow people that are #madeofgreat, can only go on, to be become people who are #madeofgreat.
For me Kanda Ma’m was #madeofgreat … and I just hope, I can be even 10% of what she was and is for me.
– Sandeep Verma