There was a time when my family’s financial condition wasn’t very well. My parents barely managed our studies. We were five and I was second youngest. I studied in a Hindi medium convent girl’s school always dreamt to get admission in an English medium school. I was very sincere and disciplined girl in my school and that made me school leader who used to manage prayers, speeches, guest welcome and everything else that happens in high schools (already nostalgic)……….
I was the answer to every inter school speech competition because I was a very good orator. I went to few women’s colleges and some village schools for speech competition. Audience used to applause me for my skill because I was only 15 at that time. All credit goes to my father who used to write speeches for me and then taught me how to deliver it effectively and in which part I need to give stress upon. I was introvert but being topper of the school made me nerd too. Even though I used to top my class test (specially in maths I used to solve algebra very fast), mid term exams quizzes and speeches I wanted to be like those girls who used to dance and had fun talking to boys. But I wasn’t like them. I wasn’t used to talking to boys and have fun because all I did was study. I was literally scared of boys. On my way back from school, I used to cross an ICSE board school and I would bent my head looking at my knees, holding my bicycle from both my hand, wearing long skirt covering 3/4th of my leg and with two braids tied with red ribbons (I still picture myself and laugh). I wanted to cross that path as quickly as possible and wanted least to be noticed by anyone.
Then came an invitation to participate in an inter school speech competition where city’s top English medium school was going to compete. So, basically it was a competition where you can deliver speech in English or Hindi. I was favorite student of my sister Madhu, my school principal. She called me and informed me about this competition. She wanted me to participate in this competition and represent our school. I got scared thinking of English medium school and hesitated to nominate my name for the competition. I also told my principal about my fear of outspoken boys and gals (yes, I was that weird : p). Somehow, I was convinced by everybody to participate. I prepared hard not to be mistaken. I didn’t wanted to feel insulted in front of everyone and moreover I was going on stage for the first time to compete with those ICSE and CBSE students who would stand in front of me and listen to me. That feeling was enough to bring lumps in my throat.
The D day arrived. That day I tried hard not to look nerdy because I wanted to look good when noticed. I tied one pony and folded my skirt to cover my knees (I don’t know why I did that :P). When I came to school my principal said, “That’s how you would represent our school. Remember that you are unique and you do not need to copy anyone”. I didn’t say anything and after a while, I was back in my geeky look.
The auditorium was big. I was never been in such large hall before. I went inside the hall and took a chair in the corner, holding my paper in my hand trying to remember my speech in sequence. I saw girls and boys laughing as if this means nothing to them. They were fearless and for some reason this was big for me. I had to overcome my fear of being in spotlight. Competition had already started and moderator was calling name one by one to come on stage. Our topic was “Save trees save life”. No one was delivering speech in Hindi in that hall. With me was my school miss ‘Miss Bindu’. She came and told me that we are the only one to participate in Hindi. I did not say anything, all I did was trying to remember my father’s voice retelling the speech and correcting me. Then my name was called. I bent to touch my misses feet (I was told by my father to do this). I suddenly felt sense of responsibility and strong sense of emotion for myself belonging to Hindi background. I wanted to let everyone know and most of all I wanted myself to believe that I am not ashamed of belonging to Hindi medium. I went on stage with nothing in my mind. While I was going on stage it was déjà vu moment. I felt like I have climbed this stage ladder before. I have seen this many audience, judges and mikes before. I felt like I am back on stage and then nothing mattered. I went on and on, not scared, not intimidated but the way my father had wanted me to 🙂 :). When I finished my speech, I could see everyone was clapping with smile in their face judges, parents, teachers and those boys and girls too. I came back to the corner still blank not sure what just happened. Miss Bindu was very happy. I think she tried to tell me that all the judges were looking at me and I did very well but I wasn’t totally listening to her. I was on my own. My ears were red but not because I was scared. It was because I had overcome my fear. Winner was about to announce and I kept sitting on the chair like a shy diffident girl. I think everyone in that hall already knew the winner except me. As always, I was looking down at my knees and everyone else was looking at me smiling. I heard someone took my name and the first prize goes to Shimpy and the entire auditorium was clapping.
This was one of the best moment for me till date in my school life.