Updated: Jul 28, 2021
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 an audience. It was pin-drop silence as if everyone was completely hypnotized 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 an extraordinary man. I am exactly the same, what if you have seen me five-six years before. If I have achieved this honor today, this is only because of my teacher and my parents whose endeavor 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, maybe it will help the younger generation a lot, of course, if they take it into their account.'
‘I was in the 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 my parents were quarreling and blaming each other for 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 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 friends 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 dining table. She could guess well that I smoked. She didn’t ask me anything. Simply, she gazed at me pitifully! That day, for the first time I felt uneasy. I felt guilty for what, that even I didn’t know! Something was hurting me inside because when I went with my friends, I asked her for some money in a rude voice. I didn’t even ask her, 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 to 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 the future? An artist, a simple player, what exactly do you want? I don’t know what you want, but I want that my son should be a renowned officer or in a high rank so that you would be respected and earn enough money too. 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 bedroom. Ultimately my parents fixed a tuition teacher for me when their pursuing didn't work out 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 magical 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 introduced 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 typical behavior for an unruly 13-year-old. She, however, was used to such behavior and didn't bat an eye at my flippancy.
‘Can I be seated, Sonu?’ she asked.
Again I said nothing.
She pulled a chair and sat for a while, then started, ‘When I was a small girl, I had so many dreams, sometimes I wished to become a doctor, other times I wanted to be an engineer and then my mind would change and I wanted to be the manager of a large firm. Eventually, I became what my fate led to me, a teacher! But I am really very happy with what I am today. At least, I came in contact with so many beautiful, brilliant children like you.’
‘Again, I said nothing.’
She paused a little and started, ‘You know Sonu! You are a wonderful boy. Do not take my praise lightly, I'm not very inclined to give it. When your dad contacted me, he told me much about you. He was baffled that a boy with so many talents, refused to make use of them.’
I was sitting on a chair putting my head down. I was scratching the floor with my toes. I didn’t respond to anything. I was surprised by 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 storybooks, and some sportsbooks too. She was keen to know about my favorite food and other favorite things. Not only that every day, but she was also telling me one short story which had some ethical 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 the sixteenth day when she came, she didn’t talk anything regarding studies. Very casually she asked, ‘ Sonu, do you have a chessboard?’ I was taken aback at her question and looked at her repeating her word ‘chessboard?' Till then I was randomly answering her questions with only ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but that day when she asked me about chess, I immediately 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. I enjoyed every moment with her thereafter! With lots of fun, game, entertainment, she helped me to complete my studies. Truly, she was a wonderful, amazing teacher!’
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 a 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 at the school, where I had worked previously. A seventh-class child was very athletic. He used to participate in almost all sports without any thought of winning or losing. But unfortunately, because of an accident, he lost one of his legs. So, when he enrolled his name in the 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 severe pain in his leg but he did it. It was incredible!! Can you believe it?’
‘No miss, just WOW!!’
‘There are thousands of boys like you. Everyone is unique in their own way. The only thing you require is proper guidance in the 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.’
Overwhelming with joy, I said, ‘Now, I do understand why my parents have arranged you for me. But yet I have some doubts 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 with a better result than you can think of 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 study and at the same time, I attended the art college at night. I never thought that I would be honored 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 a child’s 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 realized 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 that my parents told me, 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 of 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 saying softly, ‘Look Sonu, children of your age are in a crucial age group of life. You are too immature to understand the reality of life. I do respect your decision but this is not the right time or right age to take a final decision for the future. 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 time to reveal, has come to an end! In the end, once again addressed to the audience, ‘ Thank you, thank you so much for listening to me! My earnest request to all of you is, please remember that ‘Understanding’ is very, very important in life. It is always reciprocal. Understanding is the only way through which you can communicate with others in a better way. Thanks again.'