By Anjali Mohapatra • March 27, 2015
Samarth, the first Indian to get a million dollars cash prize for his fine art. This was his welcome ceremony. The gallery was full of audience. It was pin drop silence as if everyone was completely hypnotised by his speech. He began his speech, ‘ I am sincerely thankful to all of you, those who have made me what I am today. I am not any extraordinary man. I am exactly the same, what if you have seen me five six years before. If I have achieved this honour today, this is only because of my teacher and my parents whose endeavour and constant guidance pulled me to this point. I, genuinely, am thankful to my teacher.’ He sighed a little then started again, ‘ Although it is my personal matter, yet I think if I reveal some of my true experience, may be it will help the younger generation a lot, of course if they take it in to their account.’
‘ I was in eighth standard. My dad and mom both were service holders. We were a small family, two sisters and me. I was more interested in arts and games rather than studies. Since I was the only son of my parents, they were very much worried about my studies. Particularly, my slow progress in studies created a lot of discomfort in the family. Every now and then they were quarrelling and blaming each other of my upbringing. So many times they called me separately and advised me with so many examples but nothing worked out. When my mom was asking me to do some homework or to explain any chapter, I just retorted her bluntly, ‘ I know my work, I am a big boy , please leave me alone.’ ‘I can’t even think the way I was behaving with my parents and my elders too.’
‘ I remember one day, I was outing with my friends, one of my friend offered me a cigarette to taste. I was so obsessed with friends that without any second thought I took one and smoked. After sparing a long time with them I came back to my home. Mom was waiting for me near the dine table. She could guess well that I smoked. She didn’t ask me anything simply she gave me a pity look. That day, for the first time I felt uneasy, I felt guilty for what even I didn’t know. Something was hurting me inside because when I went with my friends I demanded some money, I didn’t ask her even whether she had any problem or not. Mom came slowly towards me held my hand and very softly said, ‘ Sonu, am I not doing enough for you? Is there anything wrong with me or dad? Why are you not open to us? You know what! I have no objection for art or sports, but for that matter also you have to go through a minimum education. And by the way, what do you want to be in future? An artist, a simple player, what exactly you want? I don’t know what you want but I want that my son should be a renown officer or in a big position so that you can earn enough money. Whose mother doesn’t want that her son should be in a high position? Do you understand me?’ I spoke nothing. She waited for some time then softly patted me and went away to her bed room. Ultimately my parents fixed a tuition teacher for me. The first encounter with my tuition teacher was remarkable. She was an elderly lady. Most probably she was in her fifties. She was looking very cool and reserved. I couldn’t appreciate this sudden arrangement of my parents but no choice was left. Samarth taking a brief breath said again, ‘ Ladies and gentlemen, believe me or not ,that teacher had changed me upside down. I don’t know what magic words she spelled but eventually it was successful. Really, now I feel her ethical teaching was a blessing in disguise. I am just quoting some of our interactions.’
My teacher, Mrs. Sood entered my study room lead by my mom. She introduce herself, ‘ Hello, Sonu! How are you? I am Mrs. Sood. Would you like to talk to me, please?’
‘I kept silent. I just glared at her.’ ‘Of course it was a typical behaviour. Perhaps she was acquainted with this type of behaviour before.’
‘Can I be seated, Sonu?’ she asked. Again I said nothing. She pulled a chair and sat for a while, then started, ‘ Sonu, you know what, when I was a small girl, I had so many dreams like sometimes I wished to become a doctor, sometimes I was thinking to be an engineer and sometimes to be a management head. But eventually I became what my fate led to me, a teacher. But I am really very happy what I am today. At least I came in contact with so many beautiful children like you.’
‘Again, I said nothing.’ She paused a little and started, ‘You know Sonu! You are a wonderful boy. I am not joking, I am serious. When your dad contacted me, he told me everything about you. I was really surprised that a boy who has so many good talents, why will not come out? You understood me?’ she asked me. I was sitting on a chair putting my head down. I was scratching the floor with my toes. I didn’t respond anything. I was surprised to see her patience.' Looking at the audience Samarth addressed again, ‘ You know what, for fifteen days continuously, she was coming to me, doing nothing but showing some paintings, some good story books and some sport books too, she was keen to know about my favourite food and other favourite things. Not only that every day she was telling me one short story which had some ethic sense, she never bothered whether I was listening or not. She was absolutely confident that at least some words would be heard by me. But I was unaffected. On sixteenth day when she came she didn’t talk anything regarding studies. Very casually she asked, ‘ Sonu, do you have a chess board?’ I was taken aback at her question and looked at her repeating her word ‘chess board? Till then I was randomly answering her questions with only ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but that day when she asked me about chess, immediately I answered ‘Yeah’. ‘ Do you know how to play?’ she asked. This time I forgot how I was behaving with her, I smiled and instantly said, ‘ Yes, I know.’ ‘Bring it, let us play,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t get you,’ I replied. ‘Oh! Come on, bring the chess and let us play.’ ‘This time I obeyed her nicely. We played and I enjoyed it completely since I won. I was very happy. Slowly she became very familiar to me.
‘ Ladies and gentlemen, I beg your pardon for such a long speech which is too personal but I had decided before coming to this meeting that definitely I would express my views that would help you and the young youths. Please hold your breath for few minutes more. Then he continued, ‘ The next day when she came, she pulled a chair in my study room and sat there. ‘Sonu,’ she addressed me softly and continued, ‘ I will tell you something, listen to me carefully perhaps this will be my last story and last example. Is that O.K for you?’ I lowered my voice said ‘yes, miss.’ She started, ‘Once there was a long jump competition in my school where I was working previously. A seventh class child was very sportive. He used to participate in almost all sports without any thought of winning or loosing. But unfortunately because of an accident he lost one of his leg. So, when he enrolled his name in long jump everybody was asking him to withdraw his name. But he was firmed in his decision, eventually he jumped with his artificial leg and won the first prize. He got sever pain in his leg but he did it. It was incredible. Can you believe it?’ “No, miss, it’s just wow.’ ‘ Do you know why I sited this example?’ ‘ You know what? There are thousands of boys like you. Everyone is unique in his own way. The only thing you require is proper guidance in proper direction and proper time. The main thing is determination and concentration. ‘Am I right, Sonu?’
‘Yes miss, absolutely,’ I replied .‘Can I ask you one question, Miss?’ ‘Yes ,of course you can.’ ‘Now I do understand why my parents have arranged you for me. But yet I have some doubt, miss, if I am choosing to go for fine art, is there anything wrong?’ I asked her. ‘No, not at all, there is nothing wrong to be an artist but I believe it is better to finish your 12+ first in better result then you can think anything else. However you must consult regarding this with your parents. They are your best guardians, trust me.’
She said, ‘ Next day onwards you will concentrate on your studies. It’s not wrong at all if you want to go for art or sports but before that you have to have a minimum qualification. You got it?’ This way she taught me till I cleared my 10+. After tenth class she didn’t teach me. I requested her so many times to teach me the next class but she refused that. I remember the last day of her teaching, she smiled at me, patted fondly at my back and very strongly said, ‘ I trust you, Samarth, you can do it.’In the meanwhile, I was already keen to studies and at the same time I attended the art college at night. I never thought that I would be honoured in my Art. At last my dream came true. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my earnest request to all of you, please do not hurt the thought of a child. Never ignore his decisions or feelings because it hurts his ego and once it hurts his ego he becomes arrogant and unmanageable. When I completed my education, I realised how cleverly my teacher, Mrs. Sood applied her technique of handling me. I am really, really thankful to her. She told me the same thing what my parents were telling but the only difference between my parents and Mrs. Sood was, she applied things in a different way. She always respected my views never neglected me thinking me as a child. The best part was whenever she was telling me a story immediately she was asking my views on that If ever I was giving my statement, she was questioning me with ‘why’ ‘what’ and ‘how’. She was very softly saying, ‘ Look Sonu, children of your age are in a crucial age group of life. You are too immature to understand the reality. I do respect your decision but the time has not come for you to finalise your future now. Please, please try to understand your parents and try to understand the depth of my language.’
Samarth gave a sigh of relief as if something he was waiting for such a long days to reveal, has come to an end, at the end he once again addressed to the audience, ‘ Thanks, thanks a lot for listening to me. My request to all of you, please remember that ‘Understanding’ is always reciprocal. Thanks again.
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