Year 2005-06, I was preparing for my MBA entrance exam & I had taken admission in IMS coaching centre, Bhubaneswar. The test comprised of 3 verticals – Quantitative ability, Data interpretation, Verbal ability and Logical reasoning. Being a Mathematics graduate and having keen interest in numbers, I did well in the first two verticals, but I was pathetic in Verbal ability, though not much in Logical reasoning. My primary education was in vernacular medium & my English, both written & spoken was basic level. My pronunciations sucked & my grammar was Subhanallah. English died in a corner every time I spoke. Ideally, in this situation, one would put more effort in weak areas; instead, I shied away from it…. till that one fine evening. I don’t remember the date & day, but I will never forget the evening that changed my life thereafter.
It was the 3rd session of a task which was given to us in “Spoken English & Vocabulary” . The task was to pick a topic & speak at least for 5 minutes. I managed to hide from the Teacher’s sight for 2 sessions but not in the 3rd session. It was a lady teacher with profound level of knowledge in English & literature. She caught me shying away – “Hey you. Yes you. I haven’t seen you speaking here. You’re next.” I had no choice. All I had was 5 minutes, to think of a topic & make a story out of it. I managed to frame the introductory part, where I thought I will build some story, but my fate had a different thing waiting for me.
Somehow I managed to stand in front of the class & I started with something like that – “It was a PUR family who lived in..
Teacher: Stop. What the hell is “PURR”? Spell it.
(I was clueless what went wrong)
Me: It’s ‘P-O-O-R’ ma’am
Teacher: You pronounced “Poor” as “PUR”? Seriously? It’s “poo r” not ‘purr’.. Say it aloud
(The entire class were laughing their ass off)
She made me pronounce it loudly for some 10-12 times & the class was still laughing. Of course it was embarrassing. I just stood still till I pronounced it right & then ended up laughing at myself.
Quite an embarrassing moment?!
The best thing it did to me is that – I don’t feel embarrassed in any such situations anymore.
The 2nd benefit : Some of the classmates who laughed at me, humiliated me, who kept making fun of me for this incident since forever.. Started helping me in my Vocab & written English whichever way they could. They were not masters in English too, but they were better than me. They shared whatever they knew. Their verbal English was not fluent too, but they were better off. They encouraged me to speak in English & corrected me when I made a mistake. Eventually we became friends & helped each other out. I helped them with Mathematics & they helped me with English & vice-verse.
“When I look back it seems to me that – They were not laughing just at me, they were laughing at themselves too. It’s just they found a companion to grow up with. I’m not in touch with most of them, but I’m sure all of them are doing well.”
Thereafter I learnt the ways to learn from people around. I don’t hesitate to ask help from friends & peers, even if it is just a simple “pronunciation” or any basic level stuff. They laugh if they find some of my questions/ pronunciations stupid & I laugh with them too. Though, I insist them on correcting me then & there, and they do help.
It was that embarrassing moment that has helped me shape my life the way it is today. I extend my gratitude to all of them who laughed at me that day. 🙂