Image by brgfx on Freepik

It is no secret that I hated my 10+2 life in a school that I went to only for those two years. Having finished my 10th grade from a school which had very simple teachers – most of whom I loved or at least liked – and equally simple students, adjusting to a new school where pretenses mattered more was a rather difficult task for me. I didn’t make matters any easier from my side either, if I have to be honest. I was getting frustrated and flustered with every passing minute and it truly showed on my face, no matter how much I tried to look pleasant. The more I tried, the worse I seemed to be making it. The Principal hated me – the feeling was mutual. I hardly had any interaction with most of the teachers, unlike in my previous school. It was only by mid-term of the second year that I managed to break the ice with at least a couple of young teachers who I had a fun teacher-student relationship with, one of whom I am still in touch with.

While there are many incidents from this school that still remain fresh wounds – those involving threats of being kicked out of school, having to bring my mother to school to face the heat, writing numerous apology letters and multiple levels of shaming – one incident, rather trivial compared to the others, stands out in my mind even now. I am quite sure that people would laugh at this anecdote as it has a very “front-bencher problems” vibe to it. But to me, it was important at the time, and I guess that’s all that matters – not the judgement that would probably follow.

It was during the second or third month of classes during the second year, if I remember correctly. We had a new teacher who had started off recently. For some reason, he was extremely nervous when he started and it took him a couple of months to get over it. I had kind of settled down in class finally, having found a very small group of friends, just three or four girls, with whom I sat in class. I clearly remember that I was on the second bench in the middle rows of benches, and my friends occupied the first and second benches. The teacher – we will call him Sir from now on – was writing something on the blackboard and had his back towards us. And I was taking down notes – something I was always pretty good at.

I was rather engrossed in the meticulous note-making process. My friends were too, I’m sure. Suddenly, I see Sir turn around in a jiffy and point to me, saying,

“You! Get out!”

My first instinct was to look around to see who he was talking to. When I saw him still standing there, pointing his finger at me, I asked him with a baffled look,

“Who? Me?”

“Yes, you! Get out, I said!”

I looked at my friends with my mouth wide open to see that they were also having a confused look on their faces. I stood up and asked,

“What did I do?”

He was so nervous by now that he was struggling to maintain eye contact, and managed to say,

“You were disturbing the class.”

I was getting very upset by this time, because I was minding my business and taking down notes when he started blasting me. I stood there, refusing to go out, and said,

“I didn’t do anything. Ask anyone sitting around me if I even spoke a word.”

He wasn’t ready to even look at anyone, let alone ask them if I was telling the truth. Thankfully, my friends chose not to abandon me and spoke up,

“Really Sir, she didn’t say anything at all.”

At this point, he simply wanted to go back into his shell and must have been cursing himself for starting a conversation that he really didn’t want to continue. Not knowing what to do, and probably not wanting to admit that he was wrong, he turned back to the blackboard and continued writing, leaving me there, waiting for a verdict. As I stood there in the middle of the class, all eyes on me, I could feel my eyes welling up and hot tears starting to stream down my cheeks – something I hate myself for even now. After what seemed an eternity, he said curtly, without even turning around to face me,

“Sit down.”

And that was that. I sat down feeling humiliated and wronged, wondering why I didn’t ask him why he was accusing me for something I didn’t do. I wanted to tell him that he was wrong for simply assuming that I would be a troublemaker. I wanted to know if someone else had done something at all to kick off this drama in the first place, or if he had simply imagined it. If there was someone who had done something indeed, I wanted that guy/girl to drop dead for throwing me under the bus and sitting silently through all this. But I didn’t say anything. I simply wiped my tears which were still gushing out in abundance, and went back to taking down notes.

Even now, when I am in bed waiting for sleep on some days, this scene plays back in my mind and I feel surprised that the details are still vivid, as is the strong feeling of having been wronged. It has made such a strong mark on me that when I was working in a similar role – not a teacher, but a trainer – this was one of the things that I consciously tried to avoid – accusing someone blindly and making them feel helpless and wronged. There definitely were instances of having to scold my trainees, and having to tell them that what they thought was harmless wasn’t really so. But never have I taken a look at someone and assumed that they would be problematic and made them suffer for my wrong assumption. Maybe that way, this tiny incident from school was a blessing in disguise – it made me a slightly better person at least in one way. I guess, for that, I should be thankful.

Also published on Medium.