I tried not to be jealous. I tried feeling happy for them. I tried not to cry. I failed spectacularly. Watching my sister and my friends competing & enjoying themselves on the school playground was hard on the 9 year old me. I blinked back tears. Di was always so supportive. I should be feel happy for her. She will win, like she always does. I just wanted to enjoy too. It looked like fun. Or maybe I just wanted to belong. I couldn’t decide.
“Priya”! Someone shook me. I looked up to see the concerned face of my class-teacher.
“Are you alright?” she enquired.
“Yes ma’am, I am fine”. I muttered feebly.
“You come, sit with me in the staff room, I will let your sister know” she ordered politely.
I wanted to protest but decided it was for the best.
I limped back behind her, despondently.
After asking me to do my homework , she got busy with some papers.
It was eerily silent here. The whole school was busy conducting the annual sports event. Something I cant remember being a part of.
“I took part in there when I was really small, I couldn’t remember though. I didn’t win. I never win.” I blurted out, shattering the silence.
She looked up sharply and I regretted my words. She will tell my parents now. This day was getting worse.
“Do you know why I teach English and Mrs. Hegde teaches maths? Because she is best at that and I excel only in English. You cant play basketball like your sister but neither can she write essays and poems like you do. We cant be best at everything. We can only try.. ”
She took a deep breath and continued . “You will take part, priya. Maybe next year. After you get better” she encouraged. “But for now, you should do as your parents and teachers say.” she finished with a finality.
While I was contemplating her previous words of wisdom, she stood up and started rummaging some shelves.
“Priya, do you read story books?” She asked.
“Yes ma’am I read tinkle.” I replied with a small smile.
She laughed and nodded.
“You take this and return it back in two weeks after Christmas holidays, okay?” She said, handing me an old book.
I took it hesitantly. It didn’t look colourful.
“Little women by Louisa may Alcott” I read out aloud.
“Yes, you read it and tell this story to your sister and your friends. I think only you will able to do it. ” she winked.
I smiled and soon followed her to the playground, my mind slightly confused and heart somewhat lighter.
That day changed my life. Little did I know My teacher’s words of wisdom will be what that will anchor me while I waged wars with my own health. A war I almost lost but eventually won.
That and my love for books.
Books. I live them. I breath them. They saved me. From my own demons. My love for books is popular both online and offline. Often I get asked about the first (proper) book I had ever read. And I tell them about the battered old copy of “Little Women” that opened gates of imagination for me.
We all have such turning points in our lives. A curve that changed the way we thought, lived or loved. This was one of mine. What is yours?