EXCELLENCE IN ACCOUNTANCY AND EXCELLENCE IN ACCOUNTABILITY
If someone says ‘Sorry’ to you because you insist or ask that person to say ‘Sorry’… then, that person is not sorry at all.
Doesn’t it make sense?
So, this morning, I found myself telling this young girl, a twelfth-standard student, “Now, before you go, say ‘Sorry’.”
“Sorry sir,” the young girl said looking down…
“Beta, look at me and say, ‘Sorry’,” I gently insisted.
Was I satisfying my own ego? Was I forcing her to say something she did not want to?
This girl was to write a test yesterday along with her group. When I did not see her in the class, I called her… The phone was ringing, but she was not taking my call. I left a message, asking her to revert… No response. There was another girl, who, too, was absent… The same story repeated. After the class, I asked their friends to leave a message in their group that the two girls had to call me… A few hours later, the second girl did.
They had Board exams coming up… and, so, I had repeatedly emphasized on taking their commitments seriously. I had also insisted, that if they were not able to attend, they had to communicate with me about their inability to attend so that we could reschedule…
“Sorry sir,” this girl said sincerely over the phone, “Can I come tomorrow and write the test.”
I just wanted that… I did not want to get a sadistic pleasure by subduing them, intimidating them and getting them to say ‘Sorry’. All that I wanted them to remember was that they could not take their commitments casually… They could not take their authorities casually… In life, there was accountability…and, they should know about it, now…
So, this girl negotiated with me… We agreed that she would come today at 8 am and write the test she had missed. “Please ask your friend (the first girl), too, to write it tomorrow… But, ask her to call me before that.”
The first girl did not call me. This morning, she was here along with the second girl to write the test. I controlled my urge to sermonize her before the test. Once they wrote the test, I asked her to sit down for a while and gave her a piece of my mind...
“Madam, had I repeatedly told you not to miss the test?”
“Had I repeatedly told you to talk to me – negotiate with me – if you were not able to make it?”
“Have you not repeatedly made the same mistake?”
“Yes sir, I have.”
“Which was better – calling me and negotiating or ignoring and getting scolded like this?”
Obliviously, the girl knew which was better.
The subject which I taught – ‘Accountancy’ – was not at all important to me when I was sermonizing my students. The importance of learning ‘accountability’ in life was. In a few months from now, they would go their own way. But, they would never be able to go away from accountability in life… So, I told them this:
“World would not end if you miss a test or two, darlings… But, if you do not learn to feel bad for your mistakes – we call it feeling ‘remorseful’ – and if you do not learn to feel empathetic, see how it feels by placing yourself in other people’s situations… yes, if you do not learn these ‘subjects’ when you are young, what good your excellence in Accountancy will serve you?”
In Life, we are taught, that fear, shame and guilt are not good… Yes, they are not. But, if we do not have empathy and remorse in Life, being fearless, shameless and guiltless can only make us monsters!
I still hope, I have not forced my two students to say ‘Sorry’!
Pic.: Raj Hunashikatti