My formal education started quite late. I started school at the age of 6 years. Although my schooling started late, I didn’t really suffer much as my mother used to teach me at home. By the time I stepped in class I, I was familiar with every bit of academic knowledge that my classmates possessed.

To my utter disappointment, I was allotted the front seat in my class. No ready-witted kid would ever want that sort of attention from the teachers and I was no exception. When I returned home the first day from school, I popped up the question to my mother about the biased seating arrangement. She said I deserved that front seat because of my weak physical state and brawny mental state. The journey of the world had just begun and I was already being judged.

Being a neophyte in this scholarly world doesn’t really help you. You got to learn the rules fast or you run the danger of being labelled as a loser. The world for me had just started its ride, and with each passing day, I loved the company of my classmates and my neighbourhood friends. All the academic excellence that my mother infused in me in my pre-school days quickly evaporated. I had no interest in studies and that accurately reflected in my report-cards; I secured 47/48 rank in class II. When a kid performs this miserably, he ought to feel somewhat bad, somewhat withdrawn. I refused to be a part of customaries, and instead I distributed sweets in my neighbourhood. I was thrilled that I did not perform well. It proved that the decision to make me a front-bencher was a flawed one.

As I reminisce, I think I was a born rebel. I was more eager to get my slice of life than to pass my time in the boring company of books and copies. I was mumbo-jumbo personified with a mutinous mind. By this time, most of my teachers started complaining to my mother about my starry-eyed attitude in the class, and I hated them for this. As far as I can recollect, I have never felt easy seeing my mother disappointed. For her, I was the apple of her eyes, and for me she was the nucleus of my existence.

I had barely managed to enter class III when my family shifted homes four times due to my father’s frequent transfers. We shifted from Pune to Delhi, then from Delhi to Halwara, then from Halwara to Ambala, and finally from Ambala to Jodhpur, all in the span of one year. It must have to do something with what they call a riot of luck that I kept on getting a platter of repeated questions in my exams at all these places. Voyage in class III was proving to be heavenly; I was getting good marks. Due to frequent shuffling of homes, I could not make working friendships in my neighbourhood and this is when the rendezvous with books started.



I shared a very convivial relationship with my elder brother during those days; however, as he was elder to me and the more studious one, I was mostly left alone with a quixotic dose of monkey business in my mind. I loved to stroll in the grimy courtyards of my house with my eyes searching for the perfect companion, someone ridden with equal amount of naughtiness.

To the delight of my parents, and my family, I secured the 3rd rank in all the 3 sections of class III put together. It was a giant academic leap and I had done no ground-breaking efforts to accomplish the feat. It was pure luck, as I see it now. Everybody at home was thrilled, as they never expected this from me. I was joyous too but my reasons were very different. Initially I used to think that one has to slog real hard to secure a decent rank in the class, but as I travelled the trajectory myself, I felt I just have to devote in some time with attention and the results would be brilliant. In view of my good performance in class III, I was rewarded with 2 books – ‘Oxford Dictionary’ & ‘Prithviraj Ki Aankhein’. In the days to come, the former one armoured me with my choice of words and the latter one infused the warrior-spirit in me.

All of a sudden I was the centre of attraction in my vicinity. I felt wooed, as neighbourhood aunties started quoting my academic performance to their kids so that they could emulate my success. I developed an obsession to excel in academics since then and even before the final results were announced, I was sure to secure the topmost rank.

I secured great academic feats from class IV to class VIII. I topped all the sections put together. Jodhpur proved to be a lucky mascot for my academic metamorphosis. The years were peppy, full of vigour and animated spirit. With every rising sun, my mental confines were defying boundaries and I revelled in the everyday feast of life, with a palpable dash.


I never really hided the mischievous side of my personality. I used to play merciless pranks on my friends and my teachers with equal gusto. I clearly remember putting a fire-cracker beneath the wooden chair of my Sanskrit teacher as she just settled in. The punishment that later followed was worth the sight that we witnessed her changing facial expressions as the fire-cracker exploded. It was pure unadulterated fun. Once I placed a small puppy, the progeny of a stray dog, in the drawer of my English teacher’s table. As she opened the drawer, to her horrid disbelief, the canine came out crawling. She produced this ear-splitting scream and we, the kids, were in seventh heaven. I enjoyed all the attention and felt like a star. As I was the best scholar in my school, and was good at extra-curricular activities as well, the tag of class monitor came naturally to me. The fact that I was the class monitor never deterred me from prank-playing. Requests were made to the school principal to dethrone me of my “class monitor-ship” by the affected souls; however, the second best student was way behind me.

I remember, in class V, I got less than expected marks in English. I scored a mere 37/70; the fact was indigestible to me. To my surprise, my English teacher, Mr P C Sharma, decided to recheck my exam papers on his own accord and the rectified marks were much higher. I got 65/70 and emerged as the class topper. My pride was swelled and reinstated. My faith in the teacher-student relationship got a boost as well.

I used to perform well in all the subjects with the notable exception of mathematics. The theoretical riddles, the mystifying formulae were just not meant for me. I used to barely pass in mathematics and it was due to over achievement in other subjects that I topped in every class.

I recollect quite precisely, it was the annual paper of mathematics in class VI when the examination paper was leaked. In spite of being fully familiar with all questions and having plenty of time to be acquainted with the right answers, I could manage only 47 out of 100 marks. To add insult to injury, the rest 28 classmates scored full marks. But this bruise was tough to heal. In the days to come, I kept on thinking why I could not get better marks even when the exam paper was known to me before hand. I established my personality in my own inner sphere to be that of the warrior. It made no sense to me to make any real effort for an exam whose question paper was made public days before. I never cheated in any exam of my life; I truly believe that results are for your consideration and you must get what you deserve. Your accomplishments should not be built on ephemeral foundations, for the rides of life can be quite rocky.

I tried my hand at every possible sport. And as I did that I found as if I was having a look at my own insights, from different dimensions of course. I used to be the ace shooter for my basketball team and contributed heavily in a series of triumphs in various tournaments. Playing basketball gave me that urbane edge. I used to play cricket also; my primary role was that of an off break baller, though I fitted in the skin of an all rounder perfectly. I was this typical Indian teenager, full of fracas and froth. The days gave enough reasons to be jubilant, and the nights gave enough reasons to sleep tight.

As the final exams of class IX were approaching, my jig at sports blessed me with fractured patella bone (right sided), and to my horror, I had to miss the classes for a good two months. It was so difficult sitting at home. It was like arriving at a screeching halt from a full throttle ride. It was one of the palpable kafkaesque experiences of my life, and I can still feel the gloom that used to haunt me then.

I was the only male student in Biology class. Out of a total of 8 students of Biology, 7 were girls. Biology interested me, and I used to borrow classroom notes from my female counterparts and they were more than eager to help me. I enjoyed an enviable reputation amongst my female colleagues due to my active stints in the playground and impeccable academic records. Aashi and Rekha are the ones still in touch with me.

I always had this compulsive habit to calculate my expected marks after any examination that I took; and my calculations were seldom wrong. In the final exams of class IX, I secured the 4th rank, taking into account the cumulative performance in all the term examinations much to my disappointment. I scanned the detailed report card with worried eyes and to my relief, I found that half yearly marks were not added in the final score sheet. The other side of the spectrum was a thoroughly inspiring one. Even when the half yearly marks were not added, I was able to secure the 4th rank. I pointed out the error to my parents. They had this gut feeling that something was amiss and their belief got life. Soon after the school vacations, the final results were declared. I approached the Principal with my father to make him aware of the error in my report card.

It was a bright, sunny morning with zealous thrusts of winds making merry. The clouds were sparse and had this pink sheen around them. This was the first day of the next class i.e. Class X, and it was assembly time. Our Principle was at the podium with keen eyes, holding the microphone close to his lips. As the ritual of morning prayers finished, I was announced to be the overall topper in the previous class. It was clearly mentioned that I missed the feat because of a clerical error and official apologies were announced. All eyes were on me. I could feel the inner-bound elation. As I approached the stage amidst a riot of thunderclaps, I felt as if some sort of divine force has entered my body.

In the coming years, I worked hard to keep up with my reputation of a brilliant scholar and an exceptional sportsman throughout my schooling years.