“Do you remember how I hated writing letters in your class? Well, here I am today. Although, I do hope you don’t find errors in this one.”

To be honest, I didn’t like you very much in school, just like the other kids. I hated the way you called me shabby when I didn’t wear my uniform the way it was meant to be worn. I hated how you taunted me about my posture. I hated how you said I don’t sit ‘like a lady’. I hated how you told me my shoes weren’t polished enough. Most of all, I hated how you wouldn’t ever compliment my work unless it was the absolute best.

I remember talking back to you when you corrected me. I remember how you would send me out of the class when I ‘spoke too much’ and I would walk out with my nose in the air. I remember how I did impressions of you every time you turned towards the blackboard. I think now you know why the class started laughing every time you turned around.

You know how I loved elocutions. But you would always make me stand at the back of the auditorium and watch the others while they practiced. I remember how you’d told me to switch schools because this one wouldn’t bear my tantrums. Oh! How I hated you then.

“You shaped me into the person I am today.”

stocksnap_s059qdgbogAs I look back today, I realize how important your criticisms were. You shaped me into the person I am today. Every time I sit with my back slouched, I hear a little voice in my head and I sit up straight.  I never walk out of the house with unpolished shoes or shabby clothes. I almost never mispronounce words or talk out of my turn. And for all that I am extremely grateful.

I still remember the inter-school declamation in class X. I wanted to take part in it ever since I was in pre-school. I had delivered Benito Mussolini’s speech and was overwhelmed when I was awarded the ‘Best Speaker’. As soon as the crowd had dispersed, I ran with the Cup towards your office, barged in and said ‘I won’. You smiled  your loving smile and said that you had always believed I could do it. It was then that I realized how much I owe to you.

You taught me more than what the portion asked for. You taught me dignity, discipline and self-appreciation. Most importantly, you taught me that I could achieve what most people (and frankly, even I) thought I couldn’t. And for that lesson I cannot thank you enough.


The naughtiest student of your class.

Author: Zainab Haji