Lost and Found

Lost and Found

“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

These words of Nelson Mandela, from a lesson I studied in the eighth grade, echoed in my mind and heart when on a sunny June morning, I stood at the door of the ninth-grade class at St. Peters High School, Kolkata. 

Yet, my legs felt weak and I almost ran away from there. 

Several thoughts came rushing forth like a hurricane, almost drowning my resolve to enter the class which my mom and dad had classified as ‘normal’

Was I considered abnormal till now?

This class looked so different from the classes I attended at Unnati Remedial Foundation, Ballygunge, Kolkata. 

I walked gingerly into the classroom. There were no big boards with bright pictures of numbers, alphabets, newspaper clippings, etc. which adorned the walls. Instead, a big screen protruded from the wall which I thought could be operated with the help of a PC that stood in the corner of the room. 

I saw the monotonous ruled and unruled books that every child in the class had. 

My God! They looked so drab. I missed the colourful charts and bold letter books we were given to read at Unnati. 

And the teacher spoke so fast! I turned to see every child noting it all down frantically. 

I moved to the last bench like a mouse and tried to hide from all these ‘smart’ kids when I heard the soft voice of my teacher call out my name. I stuck my head out to see several young faces staring at me. 

I almost wanted to dive down, beneath the bench again but felt a reassuring hand on my shoulder. Thereon, my class teacher Miss Rosaline strengthened my belief in Mandela’s words.

***

In the days to come, I was assisted in several ways by students and staff from different backgrounds, religions, castes, etc. I was trained to read, write and recite just like them. Never once, was I treated as a ‘slow learner’ or a ‘special child’.

I was as ‘normal’ as all of them. I was given some responsibilities like Akash, Ganga and even Siddid, who never passed his exams. I was forced to participate in debates and competitions which I enjoyed, much to my surprise.

Mom and Dad shed tears of joy to see the change in me. Their decision to go in for mainstream education in my high school years actually changed me from a stuttering child to a happy, confident young teenager.  

And I was thankful to all the people in my life who believed that different colours could come together and form a beautiful rainbow.

I was thankful to be ‘Lost and Found!’
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