'I Give up My English Teacher'
October 4, 2014


‘I give up my English teacher!!’

Here comes the ruler… huh! "Come here and stand on the platform, shameless buffalo!" shouted my English teacher miserably... The whole class commenced to float in an ocean of laughter!! Anxiety, fear and curiosity started haunting all who were present. "I give up my English teacher!!" he roared again. It gathered silence in seconds as all feared that it could be any one of us who framed a sentence on the phrase ‘give up’ in the ‘grade nine’ midterm examination! The teacher was distributing the answer sheets. Turmoil had begun! I was shocked and flabbergasted! God, it shouldn’t be me. How can I take it if it is me? No… oh god, please…all prayed and a few promised god of passing over certain contribution!

Believe me, getting humiliated in front of fellow opposite sex pupils is the highest form of vilification during school days. "Volunteer yourself and come front, let all see the linguistic master… it should be he who doesn’t even know what he wrote, useless donkey…"
Silence… perhaps that's what they call ‘pin drop silence’.

"Who could this be other than Mahammad Aseef…? Huh! Scored 18 of 100, come here, let all see your blessed face," the teacher broke the silence. I was trembling with shame. I thought of running away from the class… somewhere envisioning the consequences, I told myself to stay calm and face whatever that would happen. I began walking towards the platform staring at the floor with hard steps. The teacher was correct; I did not even know what it meant until somebody told me as I was walking towards the blackboard!! My goodness, I should not have framed the sentence in that way. Horizontally and vertically falling on the desks, holding their stomachs back, and nodding their heads, each one of them irrespective of gender, caste and grade began to laugh. 

‘Pardon me sir, I thought it meant ‘depend’ and framed such a sentence!! It will not happen again’ I started whispering in his ears. 

"Stand on one foot holding your ear, hurry up". He did not appear like listening.

Call it my destiny, I stood. He took a marker and drew a line around my foot and said "if your feet touch the line, you are dead". 

I stared at all; laughter continued and none took the gaze away from me. The feeling was a disaster; it was a feeling of having lost everything. Criticism, failure and humiliation rebelliously make a man lose hope. You will have no motivation to keep the fight going. 

My medium of education was not English. I incessantly wondered how someone could speak English. It was concrete in my mind that the former was just a subject; none could speak!!! I never heard anyone speaking - it was only the reading by the teacher while explaining the chapters till I joined ‘plus two’. It is a puzzle even now how I wrote English in my exams. When I was in primary school, my cousin told me to forget learning English as he had made thousands of failed attempts to do so. I always had an excuse not to read the subject recalling my cousin’s words. 

I think I was in ‘grade five’ when English was introduced to me. I am really quick in grasping things and considerably a quick learner. The one who told me to forget learning was the one who taught me English first. Within a few days, I could write, recognize and read letters of the alphabet both in lower and upper cases. I was the favorite student of all my teachers when I was in primary school as I was the topper in the class. I was asked to stand in the front during morning assembly as a state of honor! It was always me who led my class at the time of physical exercise even when the inspector came for inspection. How can I forget the moment when the inspector called me and said ‘’well done". The days I loved the most, the days I was so proud of myself, the days of unbeatable moments. 

"Someone must take this shameless pig to a desert to cut his head off," the teacher said staring at me. He continued, "Can you explain why you come to school, huh? People like you are good for nothing, you are a national waste and people like you must be expelled from the country." The laughter of classmates continued. 
I could not figure out what happened to me soon after I completed primary education and joined high school. Standing in the front and getting humiliated after you had a dream school life is nothing less than going busted. "Let him die" the teacher continued and asked the class to return the paper. He began to enter the marks of each student in the ledger calling one by one in alphabetical order as it was arranged in the attendance register. When it was my turn he asked me to stay there till everyone finished. My leg started aching and I thought I would collapse in a few seconds. Ensuring that the teacher was busy entering scores of the students, I slowly began to land my other leg to get refreshed for a while. My classmates had nothing to do but stare at me and get entertained. It is the mindset of the students at that age. Observing my attempts to land my other leg, someone from the middle shouted, "Sir, he touched the line with both of his legs." Hearing this, the teacher leaped towards me like a cheetah at its prey. Don’t ask me the punishment I had to undergo then! I stood for almost 40 minutes on one leg, holding my ear with both hands and getting physically assaulted in between!
I simply ran away as the school bell rang in the evening fearing the sympathetic questions that would arise from friends. The impact of humiliation made me decide to learn English and prove myself to the teacher and the class. ‘Yes, I will definitely speak one day, no matter how difficult’ I kept telling myself. I was confused how to learn and ‘forget learning’ statement made by my cousin. In front of the aspiration to study, ‘forget learning’ disappeared in real. ‘Before I clear my current grade, I must be one among the top scorer’ I said to myself.  I decided to buy a dictionary and a book titled "How can I Speak English?"  You know that the presence of vegetables and rice with other relevant ingredients will not give you a great lunch though your aspiration is to cook well. When all these ingredients are provided and you are asked to make a good lunch when you have zero knowledge about cooking, certainly would not know ‘how to’ and ‘where to’ begin. I was exactly similar!

Initial pages of the book "How can I Speak English?" discussed in the regional language the importance of learning English in today’s day-to-day business and how this book would help the reader to learn English. Though the book carried basic information in simple tenses, it was too heavy to digest for someone who had minimal understanding of the language, and I was not an exception. ‘Why is grammar essential to learn English’ was the question obsessing me all day. I tried to memorize a few sentences and began to speak on my own. I began to lose interest as days progressed. Great aspiration, vision, setting goals to prove ourselves are easy to dream of.

Gaining back your lost image is a ‘Hercules task’. You will have no motivation to bounce back. Living with critics will crumble your morale and you will likewise be one in ten. I survived among the annoyers as a loser.

Years rolled!! Aspiration to learn English never dissolved. Somehow I cleared my SSLC and got admitted to a pre-university college. New environment, new friends gave me an opportunity to be a beginner again. For the first time in my life I heard people speaking English. Hearing someone speak inspired me. I began to listen more and more though I did not understand what it all meant in the beginning. Being among people who respect you and trust your ability will give you the confidence to exhibit more with consistency. Meanwhile I happened to meet an amazing English teacher during the summer vacation who taught me the fundamentals of English grammar and gave me valuable tips to where and how to begin the learning. I stayed with him for about two months acquiring all that was possible. His methodology of teaching was amazing. I loved it. "Don’t memorize. Try to understand the subject. Whenever you see something, ask yourself what it is called in English. This will assist you to improve your lexicon," he said. I just did what he said. My thirst to learn inspired him. English grammar is not simple to understand, but his teaching of the rules of English usage guided me in remembering them and apply them with confidence. I was asked to write all that happened on the previous day using only the tense he taught on the day. This helped me to understand the application of grammatical rules. His strategy of appraisal boosted my morale.
 
"Go near the blackboard and speak assuming that people are here," he said. What shall I speak about? I asked. "Speak anything of your interest, anything that comes to your mind; speak about your home, about your siblings, your school, anything." Although I could not speak anything at the initial stage, I could frame a few sentences that explained the current economy, politics, history and sports. The teacher asked me to consider reading English newspaper and hearing English news broadcast that was useful for me to experience the beauty of thelanguage written and spoken. "Speak on your own, no matter what someone says; critics are a part of life. Don’t be frightened of the critics. Fear is a sickness," he said. 

When the classes commenced after vacation, he praised me for learning English in a remarkable way. He told the class that I was an extraordinary student though I don’t know what extraordinary things he had seen in me. But his appraisal boosted my confidence and gave me an identity in the class which further intensified my aspiration to learn..! I continued my studies with a special focus on English.

It is more than a decade now. I have a Masters Degree in Business Management from an institution of repute. I also have a Masters Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. Training and giving motivational talk is my passion. I happened to meet a couple of incredible personalities during my college who had determined to ‘train the brain’. Forming an association of inspired individuals, I have trained thousands of students, professionals, lecturers and coached different individuals of society on Effective Communication Skill, Career Development, Skill Identification, Stress Management, and on Leadership with an outstanding 94% of ‘Excellent Trainer’ feedback. I have met different nationalities, people of different cultures and people of different accents that made me learn various accents of spoken English. 

"Somebody gave your contact number, how are you?" a call from an unknown number early in the morning during my vacation made me raise my eyebrows. "I heard that you give lectures these days, come with your team and address our students when you are free." It was my high school English teacher!!! I was happy to give an appointment and visit my school to address the students on the topic ‘Kill Fear’. When I gave my own example to boost the morale of the students and explain the subject in a logical manner, none seemed to believed Me. The impact of the interactive session was tremendous. A few students spontaneously came forward to express their views on the session. There were about 300 students of grade 9 and 10. I was surprised to witness a felicitation in which the correspondent of the school said that the school is very proud to see an old student become a well known trainer, writer and a lecturer! 

My English teacher was also given an opportunity to express his views as he was the one who organized the event. "He was a naughty boy during his school days and I punished him in almost all my classes. He was very sincere in undergoing the punishment," he said, evoking  laughter among the students. He added, "He never spoke back. Possibly he was waiting for this day to speak here in a noteworthy fashion," he said in his speech. Tears rolled down unwittingly.

Truth be told, I had no plan to visit my school. I never dreamt I would address the class in the presence of my teacher who nearly considered me a national waste! I simply concentrated on enhancing my skills and followed what my heart said. My limitless debt is not just to the one who taught me writing, but also to the one who inspired me to write. There is no doubt, a determined mind certainly will lead you to achieve the set goal. All you have to do is to stay calm and get yourself groomed. Just love what you do while you do what you love. When you fail, appreciate yourself for giving a try and keep the effort going. Praise and criticism are the two faces of a coin. When you begin to enhance your skills ignoring the critics, you make all the difference.

Looking back, I never thought that the day I cried would make me laugh. If I had not framed the sentence in the grade nine examinations as ‘I give up my English teacher’, if I had not undergone the punishment by the teacher and if I was not humiliated, perhaps you would not have read this article! 

Now I completely leave it to your true assessment to check whether the sentence ‘I give up my English teacher’ is grammatically correct!



Author's email: mahammadaseef@gmail.com