Grade 1 and Counting…

With age progressing at the rate it is, I find it really hard to remember people and events. It has happened so many times that I am not able to correlate faces and names. There is a chemical flaw in me that causes this. I try and justify it so. But yeah, my memories are limited to either “very happy” or “very sad” or “something different” categories. I rarely register people and things around me in much detail. I hear this is a real shortcoming, especially if you aspire to be a writer. Half of writing is about observing and absorbing the environment around you in every way possible. 

I had to repeat Grade 1. We shifted to Dubai that year and since I was studying in a small village school in Kerala, I didn’t even know the English alphabet. So joining grade 2 in a CBSE school was obviously a mistake. After she received my textbooks from school, my mom decided to make me repeat. I was sent to a Kindergarten teacher for tuition to get me at par with my classmates. Some of my fondest memories of Dubai happened during these sessions. A whole new world of words opened up in front of me. This was in 1980.

It was during this time that my teacher at school started teaching us the English numbers. We were made to stand up and identify the numbers on the board. I had to identify the number 9. I was new to the language and my accent was still in the formative stages. I pronounced it wrong. Not a crime, I was just in grade 1 right? But the teacher deemed it alright to mock at me for that. My classmates had a good laugh at my expense too. 

My tuition teacher, on the other hand, was an epitome of patience. She would patiently teach me the alphabet and help me with the three letter words and numbers. Her home was a cozy one. She would come back from the kitchen and find me playing with her daughter after I had finished my assigned task. I was a very naughty child. It is one of the reasons I had to skip KG. We were in Madras then and my mom told me that I was sent back home on day 1 after I bit the teacher! I refused to go back after that. 

I still remember that embarrassment I felt back then in class. I still remember how disappointed I had become with the school. I spent the first grade somewhere in the rank 20 category (in a class of 30+). From Grade 2 onwards I was always among the top three ranks, up until I graduated from primary school (Grade 4) with a merit badge for topping the entire grade. It was the happiest day of my life. My class teacher pinned that badge on my uniform in front of the entire primary section.  I am sure that the grade 1 teacher was somewhere around. I wouldn’t know, I didn’t remember her face or her name. 

I remember it was a small circular badge with the word “Merit” written in the center in white. It was yellow in color because I was in the Topaz house throughout my school life. I also got a storybook as a gift from my class teacher, Mrs. Nath. I remember her smile and her loving encouragement throughout the academic year. Primary school teachers make or break a child’s personality. They are the most underrated and underpaid. In my opinion, at least some of them deserve more respect and love.

As a part of #WritingWednesday at The Frangipani Creative.


2 thoughts on “Grade 1 and Counting…

  1. Balaka says:

    such a lovely memory you shared Jyothy. I loved it. How you emerged as a meritorious student shows your determination. Most of us have loving memories of our primary teachers. I had a teacher Mrs. Tobden whom I shall never forget. Your story inspires me to write that story.


    • Jyothi says:

      Thank you Balaka. I look forward to reading your post on it!
      That determination led me to become someone with an OCD to be perfect. Life has taught me that search for perfection is a futile effort. I have learnt to accept things as they are. Too much energy wasted otherwise…


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