“Mistakes are painful but as the time goes by, they become a collection of experiences called lessons.”
As I read these lines , I am reminded of a classic instance of my immaturity, rather stupidity, dating back to the time when I had just joined a college as a lecturer on probation. At the age of twenty three, while I was still pursuing M Phil in Economics (dissertation was yet to be submitted), I started teaching. Overnight my status changed from that of a taught to a teacher but my conduct and behaviour remained essentially immature and brash for quite some time.
I remember I was assigned three sections of PREP (Pre-university class) with strength of around 80 students in each section. Mine was an afternoon time-table that stretched up to the tenth period which got over at 3.30 PM. I realized it was the least preferred schedule since no one wanted to stay in the college till the last period, not even the students as they kept approaching me with the request to adjust them in an earlier section. There was a sort of exodus of students from the tenth period which led to dwindling numbers in the last period and burgeoning, unmanageable strength in the earlier sections. My patience was getting exhausted as every day more and more students kept pouring in with the request for the section change. I decided to put my foot down and decline any such request.
It had been barely a week since I joined the college. The moment I finished the roll call, as usual the girls lined up for the section change. Exasperated, I shouted, “No more shifting.” In the meanwhile a girl approached me with a note from the principal to accommodate her in an earlier period. Without giving it a second thought, unmindful of what I was doing, I refused point blank. I yelled at the girl to go back to her seat.
How could I turn down a request from the head of the institution? But I did. When I look back I realize how stupid I was! Can’t still fathom how, I, a fresh probationer could show such an utter disregard to the principal. I was lucky that the principal, Mrs. Roy was a benevolent lady. She did not take any action against me otherwise the consequences could have been disastrous for me. It was her magnanimity that she chose to overlook my gross misconduct which could easily have been construed as an act of insubordination.
Was it a deliberate act of defiance? No. But then, what explanation do I have for such a brazen act? There is absolutely none but for my immaturity at that age. I believe it was the brashness of youth. I was naïve.
The reality is maturity comes with age and experience. I have learnt from my mistakes. Experience has taught me the life-skills to deal with the people and handle situations with maturity and wisdom.
( Published in Chandigarh Tribune on November 28, 2019)