Monday, January 11, 2016


Pic.: Azriel D'Souza

“Ma’am, I wish I could do that,” I told Shashi’s* mom. She spoke to me, this morning, for more than twenty minutes… essentially on only one thing: Why her daughter, my eleventh-standard student, was not able to work hard and score well in the exams.

Shashi’s mom is a chronically-anxious mother. I have lost count of the times she has spoken to me on the subject. Shashi isn’t that bad as her mother thinks she is. But, the anxious mother keeps transmitting her anxiety and panic in her young-one’s mind… and, that seems to backfire…

Every time Shahi’s mom calls me, I spend all my time calming her down. .. “Ma’am, relax,” I tell her gently, “Shashi will do well.”

“How can I relax sir,” the mother reacts, her heart almost broken, “She is not doing well at all.”

“Okay, in such situation, I need to relax,” I reminded myself. Then, I asked the mother, “Tell me ma’am, what you want me to do?”

“I don’t know sir,” Shashi’s mother voiced, “Can you make her work harder.”

“Ma’am, I wish I could do that,” I told the worried mother.

Why did I say that? As Shashi’s teacher – and as someone who talks so much about motivation and inspiration everyday through his blog – didn’t I possess at my disposal a trick or two to make the 17-year-old work harder?

No. Not until Shahsi knew why she had to work harder. In other words, not until she knew what she wanted to do with those marks… that good result.

“Our motivation comes from our personal goals”… I keep telling this to my students and their anxious parents. When the goal comes, the reason to work hard – call it ‘motivation – comes on his own. Just how a donkey goes to the pond on his own when he is thirty…

Now, who gave the donkey the thirst?

Who will give it to our Shashi?

Who will tell it to her mother?

The day I dreamt of becoming a teacher, I knew how to take myself there… Just the way the proverbial donkey did!

“There is a way out,” my friend Ghosh, a corporate trainer, would tell his trainees, in his own contagious way, “Nicely rub some salt on the donkey’s mouth… He will run to the pond!”

 *Name changed


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