I remember that day, it was the first day of our ninth grade, and having studied for nine years in the same educational setup, I pretty much knew what to expect. It would be a day when new teachers come in with an effort to make a good first impression, or rather an intimidating one, to make sure the class is under control for the rest of the year. It would be the usual introduction of herself, followed by each of us introducing ourselves with our names. If the teacher happens to be one who has already taught us before, it would be the usual claim of how different this year, her class is going to be, how the bar of intolerance has been lowered making it impossible for us to limbo.
She was our new kannada teacher, taller compared to average south Indian women, confident, and she walked in with a smile. The smile was not one of those, which spread the friendliness, nor was it a forced fake one, which would be followed by establishing the power equation between the students and herself. It was one of those , a tad sarcastic ones which gives you an impression that she knows what she is going to be put up with.
Kannada language is mother tongue to many people in karnataka. Having spoken the language all our life, we expect the command over the language, if there is one subject/language which we are sure of scoring well, it has to be that language. Its extremely difficult to be a teacher who teaches something which all the students are already aware of, its highly likely for the students to ignore the subject, and most importantly its extremely difficult to command their respect for the subject and the teacher.
The new kannada teacher had an unique way of introducing students to her. She started a simple exercise, all we had to do was, stand up with a text, and read the passage without making a mistake, stammer, or wrong pronunciation. The first flaw in the reading would result in the next person continuing.
It was a challenge which all of us thought was a piece of cake, we were sure that the book would never reach beyond two rows.
What followed was a hilarious few minutes, with people stumbling within first few words/sentences.
I had a big ego about my kannada, [In a sort of a way, I still do], when the book came to me, I was with full determination to complete a big passage. I stumbled right after the fourth sentence.
For some reason I have never forgotten this exercise nor the teacher. This ego bursting exercise has kept me on my toes even now. Every time I feel a little over confident I do this exercise with small alteration as per the field, and it has never stopped surprising me.
I don’t know where the teacher is, nor I have any idea if I will get to thank her for this “first” class of hers.