Monday, January 25, 2010

A Journey from NO to MANY!

There are some moments that get engraved in memory and you never forget them. Even ages later, they keep coming back to mind as fresh as dew. I am narrating one such incident here that dates long back to the days when I was in class I at Loreto.

We were being taught sentence construction. Mrs. Basu, our class teacher, was speaking out random words and we were raising our hands, as soon as we had thought of a sentence.

"Apple", she said.

"An apple is red", replied one of my classmates.

"Very good", nodded Mrs. Basu.

"Cat", said Mrs. Basu.

A little girl quickly raised her hand and said, "The cat is on the mat". Mrs. Basu smiled and nodded again.

"Book", "Chair", "Flower"...the nerve-wracking rapid-fire round of sentence making went on for about ten minutes and then we were asked to open our class-work notebooks. Mrs. Basu wrote five words on the black-board and asked us to quietly write down sentences on each of them.

I sat at my desk, carefully and meticulously trying to make the best possible sentence for each word. After completing my work, I reviewed it and satisfied with my attempt, I submitted it with a smile on my face. I was expecting a "Smiley" or a "Star" - those coveted shiny stickers - for my work, after all, I had made some classic sentences.

We received our notebooks back after corrections during the last two minutes of school that day and none of us got the time to check and flaunt the remarks we had received. The minute I reached home, I flung open my bag to check whether I had received a Smiley or a Star. I quickly flipped over to the last written page and what I saw there was shocking. There was a big red cross against the third sentence I had made. Tears began rolling down my cheeks. This was unreal - one big red cross!!!

Seeing that aghast look on my face, my Dad grabbed the notebook from my hands. He read the sentence and then burst out laughing. He showed the notebook to Mom and she began smiling too. They both wiped off my tears and told me to calm down. My Dad opened the last page of the notebook again and there I saw the following lines:

3. Friend - I have no friends.

My class teacher had made a big circle around the NO and changed it to MANY.

Papa asked me why I had made such a sentence. I argued that the sentence wasn't wrong. Trusting my grammar, even today I hold that this was a perfectly grammatically correct sentence. Papa made me sit in his lap and then suggested that I should have used the word MANY instead of NO in the first place. He didn't want his little daughter to grow up with the feeling that she lacked friends. He told me that one always has friends, there is nobody who doesn't have friends. I remember myself sulking back, "Papa, why should I lie when I have NO friends".

Looking back, I realize how Mrs. Basu changed my life for ever that day by changing one word in my notebook. Although I love flaunting my "Grammatical Correctness" to all my FRIENDS even today, I now understand the difference that a single word can make. I humbly stand corrected:

3. Friend - I have MANY friends.

This goes out to my dear parents and all my loving friends who've shaped my life in their own special ways. Thanks everyone! :)