I could have been one of the dullest pupils for I was promoted to class five with just “CP”, meaning Considered Pass. I got chance to continue my study any way.
It was in 1987; I was in class five, section-B. Yeshi Sir, a new teacher in the school was my class teacher. He taught us English. He was a voracious reader himself and would narrate lots of stories from his readings to us in the class. Of all the stories I heard from him, I’ll never forget the one – about Gasa Lamai Singye. Around that time my class teacher got entangled in love with a woman from the nearby village and this was one reason what motivated him to narrate such a great love story in the class that took almost a month to end. And when it ended, he announced his marriage with that village woman.
Yeshi Sir was a great teacher. He would always keep us busy – make us read books, draw and paint, and go through games and activities that helped us build our learning capability.
One morning, he walked in late to the class. As he entered, his hands were loaded with chart papers, bundles of paint brushes and pencils, and packets of water colours and crayons. He carefully placed these materials on his table and announced, “My dear boys and girls, today there is an announcement in the Kuensel newspaper about an art competition on nature. Therefore, we shall do drawings and paintings in the class and best entries shall be sent for the competition.”
For about an hour we all worked on our entries. I drew a tiger jumping over a rabbit in a thick forest. I painted it with water colour. As I readied my paint brush for my final stroke, Yeshi Sir approached. He stood besides my desk smiling and staring at my work for long. I could see appreciation and acceptance on his face.
“It looks nice. Can you redo it once again?” Yeshi Sir whispered to my ears. I looked up surprised. He nodded and said, “I can give you another chart paper and one more day to complete.” So I did it again and submitted. It looked much better.
“Choed Ausa phaley Jomi mo, Choed Gasa Jomi mena mo…” Yeshi Sir would often sing this song melancholically with all his heart upon our requests and the normal classes continued side by side with the story of “Gasa Lamai Singye.”
“My dear boys and girls, I’ve important news to share,” Yeshi Sir announced one morning. We all sat there in complete silence, eager to hear that important news.
“Do you remember we did painting on nature about few months ago?”
“Yes Sir” we all responded.
“From those, I selected three entries and sent it to the RSPN’s office for the competition. One of them was Thubten’s tiger in action.” Everyone in the class turned towards me.
“Thubten, stand up please,” continued Yeshi Sir. I stood up nervous.
“His painting has won second prize. Everyone give him a big applause.”
Huge clapping followed while I stood there completely awestruck.
During the break, I was called to Principal’s office. Principal Sir handed me a cash prize of Nu. 320.00 and two books titled “One Thousand Questions and Answers,” along with a handshake.
It was a huge amount. I never handled such a huge amount before and when it came, it was to change me – my behavior. From the very next day, seeking ways to spend that money I would report for the attendance only and disappear from the second period. Study was losing its place from my priority list as I hardly touched books thereafter. Life continued like that for months.
And when my prize money was exhausted final examinations began. What more can be expected from a person who hardly cared to read books. I don’t know what I wrote, but I did not miss even a single paper.
17th December came and it was National Day celebration in the morning and results declaration in the afternoon.
In the afternoon, all students gathered in front of the main academic block and stood in line class wise while Principal and teachers gathered on a raised ground each holding a folder containing our academic mark sheets.
From the platform Principal Sir announced, “Those who fail this year, please do not get disheartened. Since we do not have too many admission pressures, we’ll let you repeat as day scholars.”
Then the teachers took hold of their respective classes. I knew my results even before my class teacher handed me my mark sheet. But one thing that never struck my mind, the aftermath of a poor performance.
“Thubten,” it was my turn. I walked up and when Yeshi Sir handed me my mark sheet it was all circled in red and worse even, it said “Failed” in bold. Yeshi Sir looked concerned as he spoke, “Repeat next year and study hard.”
Tears welled up my eyes as I folded the paper and turned away from my teacher to fall back into line. There was joy. There was merry making. But all these were not to last long. They left me behind all by myself with a lump of sadness in my heart.
Come March, 1988 I’ll be a repeater in class five.
Triple Five continued...
Triple Five continued...