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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!

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