The first teacher of my school of life once told me that I am not a bad student. She said this when I informed her that I haven’t done well in my exam. She said I can do much better, only if I want to. I once asked my first teacher, how she knows me more than I know myself. She did not say much. I appeared for the exam next year. I did pretty well. The course of my life changed. The convictions of my first teacher created in me a will to excel. She knew that no one can be rescued or guided by someone else’s beliefs. She knew that conviction and confidence can’t be forced upon but come through self-realization. She knew that conviction is not enough. One needs a matching intellect to do well. A mismatch between will and intellect results in discontent. A teacher’s conviction can create the will. Perhaps, not doing well in the exam, awakened my dormant intellect. The intellect is not an extension of someone’s beliefs. It comes imprinted on the grey slate one is born with but it can be chiselled and polished. Here too my first teacher played a role. She saw imminent danger in my failure. She would not have succeeded in reforming me, had she enforced her ‘will’ upon me. She used restraint. She had faith in me. The year my teacher got married she was eighteen and had just completed her higher secondary. She wanted to be a Graduate. After the marriage there was a big gap but that did not deter her. She completed her graduation with me. Once I asked her, why did she go for graduation after such a long gap. She said, she wanted to get photographed wearing the Graduation robe. I know, why she decided to continue her studies. She wanted to give me company, as a student, as a friend. She wanted to give me courage and conviction that if she can do it at this age, why I can’t do it. My family celebrated my success. I am still celebrating my mother’s success, as a mother, and as my first teacher. When I did not do well in the exam, my mother must have been upset, but she also saw the potential in me. She did not parrot me. But she gave me the courage to say that I can root out my insecurities and self-doubts. She gave me the confidence that I can do it. I am so fortunate that I got the tutelage of a rulebreaker first teacher.

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