Lets get a couple of things straight. I have always been a nerd. One of those people who took their class ranks and test marks seriously. Might not have shown in later years but deep inside all the more worried still.

Story is extremely simple. I come from a Hindi speaking family where english as a medium is hardly ever used in spoken terms. So while I always managed to score highest marks in Maths and science, I barely scrapped through English.

And this could have all continued till kingdom come but alas finally one fateful exam I flunked in English. Yup a sad thirty eight saw a red mark from my teacher. 

Again this all could have continued but my teacher called my mother to school and showed my paper. She said, “I cannot take this to the Principal saying the girl ranks second in class but fails in a subject. So here I am writing ‘two marks grace’ to save her a red. But ma’am, you must know your child has failed.”

If she had not given me those two marks as grace all would have been well. But to my mother being at the mercy of underserving brownie points was not what she would have liked her daughter to face.

Off she went to one of my school teachers and simply said,” Ma’am she will do what you say, please get her english in order”.

Mrs. Sadiq (then Linda John) smiled, pulled me close and said, “Let’s get this sorted now”. I was scared. I thought I am going to sacrifice whatever little playtime I had in my life.

She instructed my mother to buy a dictionary called “Long John sliver” which apparently had meanings of each word along with their usage in a sentence. She asked my mother to teach me that each day. So twenty pages of a dictionary was the medicine prescribed.

But this was not to be. My mother asked for more.

“Make her watch nine o’clock news in English on Star TV”- there goes my dinner time as well.

No, more.

“She should read the first page of the newspaper out loud each day in front of the mirror”- extra ten minutes of sleep given up right there.

“I need her to score in English as much as she scores in Science and Maths”, my mother was possessed. Well those who knew her will say, this was her forever state 😀

Mrs. Sadiq wrote something on paper and handed it to my mother. My mother nodded and together we left.

Right here I want to tell you that my english was so bad that when kids from prep school asked me in their flawless english: “What is your name?” I would start crying.

What was on that piece of paper? Oh some horrible things. Horrid names. Like Famous Five, Secret Seven, Mallory Towers. Oh the horror!

There it was. My day started with reading newspaper, coming home to finish twenty pages from a novel and then watching news at nine pm.

Needless to say my playtime was reduced to just five minutes of pleasantries exchanged. 

For the first few weeks, I hated George and her dog. I hated how every day there was something up at Mallory Towers. I was horrified at the outlandish behavior of the seven who just couldn’t keep indoors !

But then suddenly it changed. I have no clue when. But perhaps once I finished a couple, I was hooked. I was reading during dinner time, before breakfast, at times in between lectures at school. I was an addict.

Next year in school, I won second Prize in English Impromptu Speech. I scored the highest in English.

My mother taught me a valuable lesson that time. There are no grace marks in life. You don’t live on grace, you fight it out to leave them all behind 🙂

This World Book Day, I hope my story inspires each one of you to pick up a book and get lost in this sweet addiction of reading!

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I owe my life to this lady here 🙂

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