I used to fear everyone who is elder to me or those who are dominant, I used to see some part of my father in them. I used to look at everything around me in a negative way, I always had the feeling that the whole nature was designed to ruin my life and spoil my happiness, without even realising how insignificant I was in this universe. I avoided good friends because of the fear that I might lose them too, as I kept changing my school every year or more than once a year. All these fear and negativity seemed to subside after my 10th results and also by the fact that I continued studying in the same school for third consecutive year for the first time in my life.
I started looking at people without any preconceived notions and with a slightly positive mindset. We entered 11th standard, tot of changes happened with the classes, with Karthik, Sudha and I taking biology group and Ashwin, Sethu and others opting for Computer science. I did not have any focus or guidance then, I loved nuclear physics and chemistry but did not know how to pursue a career or even what college to opt for after school. So just like a sheep going along with a herd I too said that I aspired to become a doctor or an engineer. It looks quite stupid now, how can a person aspire to become either Doctor or an Engineer, or how can that even be an aspiration. However I never knew what to do, so not to sound insane I said I wanted to become a doctor.
A new group of guys from other schools joined us, Om Prakash, Shivrajanand and Jeevan from another school, and my ex-classmates from 9th std C section Navin and Senthil kumar joined us. I instantly got acquainted with these guys. They were typical backbenchers and it was awesome to just be with them. I was completely out of touch with them for many years, until few months back when I found them through orkut.
There used to be elections in the school, where the 11th standard students can contest the election to become the school pupil leader. Where everything will be like a regular election, with canvassing, voting, ballot boxes and counting. When I was in 10th std, I liked a guy and his symbol was star, so I voted for him. After counting they announce the result during prayer assembly the next day, the guy I voted got 6 votes and the students started teasing him as ‘Six Vote Super Star’. I harbored the dreams of contesting the election, but this event made me a bit nervous. I was sure that I did not have the mental courage to face such a defeat. I made up my mind and the first thing that I did was to ask Karthik about his interest in the election. He was reluctant and initially said that he would not contest. It was a big relief for me, as he was the most popular guy among the whole school. He studied there for nearly 13 years, and knew many juniors and all the staff will support him. So even before contesting I made up my mind that I would lose if he stands in the election.
I was confident of performing decently as Karthick would not contest. On the day of nomination Karthick changed his mind and nominated himself. Few others nominated themselves, the other prominent guy was Ashwin and new comer to the school, a commerce student Ashok. Like always I started evaluating my competition, for some reason I thought that Ashwin did not have the charisma to win the election. I was actually worried about Ashok, he looked handsome and his verbal ability was amazing. Ashok became my major worry, as I could not do much about Karthick as I assumed him to be the hot favorite. All my strategies revolved around somehow managing to come second so that I could at least become the assistant school pupil leader. I started devising my strategies, I wanted to do something drastically different. I announced my symbol as ‘sword and shield’ and started canvassing. We were free to skip classes and go to other classes for canvassing. Navin accompanied me to canvass, not because he was very keen in getting me votes, but to skip classes. Since I worked in printing press before I had this idea of printing notices and giving it to students to elect me. I got 300 small notices printed with my symbol and asking people to elect me. I was actually scared to issue those notices and went and asked our principal if I can issue them, he became so angry and he threatened me that he would cancel my nomination if I did such things and he snatched away those notices and kept it inside his room.
It was a major blow for me, however I changed my strategies and got one active person from every class to promote my campaign. I told them my agenda and those guys did a good bit of propaganda for me. However the biggest lesson I learnt during that process was from a 9th standard junior. I used to imitate rajinikanth dialogues from the movie arunachalam while canvassing, that girl told me that I had my own style and everyone liked it and she added that one should not copy others but remain original. Thanks to her, till date I follow that advice.
Ashok the other competitor was losing ground rapidly, posing himself to be a very studious guy did not do any good for his image. Ashwin meanwhile was very confident of winning as Sethu gave me feedback on how Ashwin felt. Karthik was silently confident (or that was what I thought). Canvassing ended, and there was a day’s break before the election. I was not confident, but I knew I had a great deal of support from juniors. From looking for a second place I started believing that I could win the election. It was the election day, our class went for voting, and most of my classmates voted for me ahead of Karthik. However most juniors came back to me and told me that Asha (teacher) was forcing them not to vote for me but to vote for Karthik. I did not know what to do or how to react to that. I went to the new supervisor and told him about the issue, but he did not buy the argument and defended Asha. I waited for the results the next day and in the prayer assembly they called out my name as the school pupil leader and karthik as the assistant school pupil leader. I had goose bumps, but did not show it off and went to receive the badges, but unlike previous elections they did not give the vote count while calling up. I saw the list the figures of the vote count was 634 for me followed by 137 for Karthick and 135 for Ashwin. I realized that I seriously underestimated Ashwin. Ashwin was furious with his own classmates (venkat and other, as they voted for Karthik), our counter parts among girls were Jyothi Priya and Soumyashree.
I learnt a few lessons during that election, anything that happens to me is not dependent on what others are doing around me but depends on what I do. I also realized that I am not someone whom everyone would like to hate, but rather a likable personality.
Life took a U turn and some of my most happy days started, I was made the class representative. I had a great time with my friends, I learnt how to ride a bike. Om Prakash taught me using his huge Yezdi, we bunked schools and spent time at Jeevan’s house. I completely forgot about studies, teachers became a bit biased and I got more than what I deserved (the same case with Karthik too) but no complaints. However my quest for knowledge continued, I started going for RSS meetings, and got the acquaintance of a retired professor from Germany named Gireesanji. He was the first person to answer all my doubts regarding Chemistry none of my teachers even attempted to answer them. However there was no one to answer my doubts regarding nuclear physics which fascinated me the most along with cosmology. I started comprehending spirituality through science. I started hating the fact that languages are also being considered as subjects. What significance did getting marks in tamil had to do with pursuing any career path? I started ignoring it completely and everyday used to be punished by our tamil teacher. She used to beat us, however Karthik continued to be the perfect guy.
This is the phase when I started spending more time with him and realized that despite having everything he never had any airs about it. I started admiring him more as a person, I wanted him to be my best friend, however there was a fear of rejection. I was worried about the fact that he was quite close to guys like Navin, Ilangnayuru and so on. So I was not sure if I can become his best friend, I was not mature enough then to understand that friendship is not a tangible asset and having friendship with many will by no means affect the strength of friendship.
To my grand mother I was her world, and to all my friends in my native I used to be their best friend ever, that being my ideal world anything less than that was not acceptable for me. As I hated my parents, my friends became the most important part of my life in chennai. I wanted all of them to consider me as their best friend. However Karthik remained to me as the most favorite person and a good friend. I tried to impress him by all means, he used to like small onion samosas, so whenever I used to go to his place I used to buy those for him to impress him. We became quite close however I had an imaginary wall between him and me.
There was a match between Prince and New Prince. Like always, Karthik captained our team (as he commanded more respect despite not being as good as Sethu or Venkat), as usual I was slated to come way down the order. In my native I represented a famous club (Blue Diamond Cricket Club) and played with a real leather ball, however in chennai we played with a rubber/tennis ball and above all no one knew how well I can play. This match being a match between two schools, the match was conducted in a military camp ground with proper cricket ball and protective gears. Sethu and Venkat opened the innings as usual. I asked Karthik to send me at one down, he was reluctant but then I convinced him and a wicket fell and I joined Sethu. Sethu is a left hand player and a God of leg side. He was playing superbly. I joined him, the first ball i faced was an over pitched ball and I played a cover drive for four. Anything that I hit that day came of the middle of the bat with cover drives and square drives flowing just the way I wanted them, runs were coming thick and fast and for that period I out scored Sethu, I was on 37 and swept a ball straight in to deep square leg. For the first time I walked of happily. Karthik appreciated me and said that he never knew that I could bat so well. Sethu got out after reaching a 50 and we won the match. I have played many good innings some match defining innings before that day and after that day and I remember most of them. But that day was the most happiest day for me while playing a sport. During my PG I represented my college in inter-state soccer tournament and have achieved a quite a few things in sports and games, however nothing matched the happiness that I got during that day.
The tortures of my parents did continue, I am a big sachin fan and 1998 was the year when he was most prolific (the same year as my 11th standard) so in addition to other tortures, my father will not allow me to watch cricket. He will keep watching news or the tv would be switched off. I don’t know for what reason, probably just to show who was in control. If possible I used to watch the match in sethu’s house else I read the newspaper the next day at sethu’s place. However all the bad things that happened during this time was completely overshadowed by the good things. Above all from being someone with full of self doubts, I became a confident individual. Being happy and smiling can change a person’s life, my life changed completely.