The curious case of Mallikarjun
Meet S. Mallikarjun-A 13 year old boy in my class who thinks the dot separating the initial in his
name from his full name is so important that it deserves to be written big. So big, that his name is
often thought of as Somallikarjun!
After almost 10 months of teaching, I can still not find one word to describe this boy. On the first day
of school, he introduced himself and told me that since his name was big, I could call him Malli like
his friends do. I agreed. And how could I not? He seemed a quiet, sweet and innocent boy, with
Kumkum on his forehead and neatly combed hair and ironed uniform!
Little did I know what lay ahead…
A week into teaching and Malli was just not learning! He could not spell five letter words, he could
not articulate his thoughts, he was always distracted. He would walk around class while I was
teaching and he would refuse to obey me. He would shout and walk away in anger. He would get
into petty fights with girls.
But there were days when he would be totally engrossed in my lesson and would even raise his hand
to answer a question! I would jump in delight, only to be disappointed because his answers would
not be relevant and his only intention was to make everyone laugh and annoy me.
Months passed and one day, we were learning to write poems. I wanted my kids to use rhyming
words and since we had done limericks earlier, they knew what they were. I wrote down some
rhyming words on the board-sit, pit, kit and rat, pat, sat etc and I asked my kids what such words
were called. Unfortunately, not one person could answer and I was deeply disappointed! I expected
them to remember but they did not!
Then a quiet voice spoke up, “Miss! Rhyming words, miss!” I looked around in surprise! It was Malli
who had answered! I was so shocked that I did not speak for about a minute! Malli! The boy who
never learnt! He remembered lessons from over 3 months ago! I was lost for words, and I still am! I
appreciated Malli and he glowed with pride. But within two hours, he was back to his usual attitude.
The term ended and Malli was back to his customary behaviour. Defiance, singing in class, not paying
heed to anything!
But one day, he came up to me when I was filing some papers and he said three sentences- “Miss, I
wrote my homework. I felt happy yesterday. I saw you writing in your diary this morning.”
I said, “Okay, Malli. Good to know!”
He replied, “Miss, you did not hear, Miss. I used past tense.”
I dropped the papers in my hand and stared at him in shock. Malli had never got this concept! He
would always say “I learn this yesterday. I eat yesterday. I see movie last week.”
And suddenly, here he was, using past tense perfectly and even pointing it out to me!! My joy knew
no bounds as I rushed to my Co-Fellow in school to share my happiness! My eyes gleamed with joy
as I shared the incident with him!
These are just two heart-warming incidents in my Fellowship life. There are so many more such
incidents! There are so many difficulties and tough days, but then, there are also Mallis who astonish
me continuously! It is moments such as these that make me wake up the next morning and go out
there and work, despite all the challenges that I face!