I’ve had immense amount of luck in my life. People who’ve barely known me have been willing to take crazy bets on me when I myself had doubts and it’s incredibly humbling. Being the arrogant ass that I am, I haven’t managed to say “thank you” enough times. Here’s my small attempt at correcting that egregious error.

For part one of this, I’ll thank someone who’s interacted with me just once but her background presence in my life for two years made me a far better person. She forced me to rethink my approach to life. The story of this one interaction dates back 18 years. I was in standard 11 and a pretty holier than thou kid. I believed (still do, really) that prayer time in school was an absolute abomination. Since this was a government school in Sec 35, Chandigarh, the prayer was pretty religion-neutral and towards an abstract notion of god but a gigantic waste of time. So, to save those 30 mins, I used to reach school half an hour later than normal. Typically, I jumped over a wall around 10 feet high and went straight to class from a back entrance just before the first attendance was about to start. Academically, I used to be decent so I rarely gave my teachers a reason to crib.

However, every school has a sports teacher! The bugger has literally no other job than to give kids a hard time. This 6.5 feet tall, beer-bellied, intimidating sardar (can’t remember his name for the life of me) caught me once just as I was sneaking in. I know how lame this sounds. Mostly people get caught skipping school and I was caught getting in but yeah, my life, my rules and my lameness! He started an interrogation that resulted in a smack across my left cheek and dragged me to the principal’s office for what he and I thought, should be a harsher punishment.

The principal, Khushinder Sharma, the badass heroine of this particular story, was reminded that a dunce pupil has been made to stand outside in potty-posture and she was free to punish him as she saw fit. She was busy doing important work so I was made to wait for around ten minutes that seemed like an eternity. Out of epic boredom and nervousness, I concocted a big fat lie about how I met with an accident on the way and got late. She gestured me in and asked me what happened. For the next few minutes, I went on a rant which barely made any sense but I was definitely the victim in my sob-story. She offered me water and very politely said the only words of that conversation I remember: “I TRUST you… Now go to your class, you’re late. And remember, if you don’t trust your own words, no-one else will. Go on. Get out.” I’ve never felt so small in life before or after that incident. In very few words, she taught me the importance of belief.

I’m not that nice a guy to say that I’ve never lied in life again but I’ve come close. It’s only because one person was willing to reach out and show me what faith looks like even when I was totally undeserving of it. I’m a better person because of her and I owe her a debt that I cannot ever repay. So here’s something I never said, “Thank You Ma’am”



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