It was a pleasant sunny February morning. Gauri was nervous, she was to give a speech on a farewell today. She dressed well for the farewell, a beautiful pink sari with motifs (sari was the custom attire for a farewell.) Her sister applied some make up on her face and she wore her mother’s pearl necklace. Gauri was a standard X student belonging to an ordinary convent school. She lived in a beautiful town near Pune, surrounded by the hills and paddy fields. The farewell ceremony began with a short prayer service in the school auditorium. All the time Gauri felt anxious, she was regretting her decision to stand for a farewell speech, and cancelling the speech was not an option. The function commenced with dance, choir songs, and laughter. Later her batch mates started with their speeches, her turn came after 2. She listened to their speeches, which basically praised the school, teachers, and friends.
Gauri felt her heart pounding, and almost made up her mind to say the stuff that her friends had already said. She climbed onstage, glanced at her original scribbling on the crumbled piece of paper and decided to narrate it, thinking about the efforts she had taken to compose it. Clearing her throat, she began ‘Good afternoon respected teachers and my dear friends. It is big day for all us. I am filled with trepidation that is because of these few lines which I have written.’ She said this pointing to the piece of paper. She continued ‘I came here in 5th standard when my parents shifted to this town. The first thought that came to my mind after seeing the school was “beautiful.’’ There are trees and vast playground, a hill at back, church, clean, and airy classrooms and of course, a clean washroom. It is the best place for schooling, isn’t it? However, this happiness was short-lived as the weeks passed on. I was an introvert girl with self–esteem issues. Even in my previous school, I was always alone sitting in the corner with no friends, never talked to anyone around me. Teachers complained about this to my parents who tried to put some sense in me but failed. I was just told by everyone “go and talk to your classmates”, “socialize” and so on. My parents did help me but in school, I was alone and it was of little help. Teachers never encouraged me to participate in any events as they thought I was weak. I was never made monitor or captain. Even classmates bullied me. I dreaded school. Then I came to this school and thought this would be good place and I will do better. Nevertheless, the same things were repeated. ‘
You may say I should have improved my confidence. I was a kid and to overcome this inborn low self-esteem was not possible for me. I never understood what was wrong with me. Teachers select the students for dance, drama, sports but the same faces are repeated in all events. Some never get chance. We were the weak students who, if allowed to participate in school events could potentially spoil the entire act. Once I had asked my faculty to take me to the computer education trip arranged under computer club but she denied as I was newly admitted and had no knowledge of computers and rarely spoke about it. Further, when I insisted she said I was not properly dressed and no smart enough. I hold no offence against the school and teachers. However, you should not only encourage good students but also the weak ones. Mostly, you fail in the second case. You ignore us considering we will not do anything good. All you do is complain about it to our parents. By encouragement, I mean giving a chance and not mere sympathy during the parents meet. What worse could happen, the weak ones would mess up the event or fail to compete? Despite this, you would give them the precious gift of confidence that would last for lifetime. Moreover, who knows this single chance may bring out the talent in them? I got such a chance once in the eighth standard when my class teacher gave me a responsibility, and guess what? Today I can speak confidently and enjoy the rest of my school life. I request all of you to give them a chance. Chance is more important than an hour long moral education lecture on low self-esteem. A school’s real aim should be strengthening the weak over the good ones who are sitting in front rows. Why repeat the same beautiful girls for dance performances? Why chose the same person as monitor or captain? As a teacher, you should be like Aamir Khan in the film Taare Zamin Par, instead of dissing out the weak students. They say school life is the best, ahead lie more challenges, but I believe school is also a challenge and I have completed the beginner’s level. I am glad my schooling is over. Thank you!’ With this Gauri ended her speech and followed by applause. Gauri rejoiced the moment and got out of the dread of her inner mental monsters ready to face the world with pride and hoping the future of coming weak students to be better.