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The price of forgetting

Brain from wooden puzzles. Mental Health and problems with memory.  

I keep annoying my family with my forgetfulness. I have always been forgetful, even in the most unimaginable circumstances.

Once while chiding us for “forgetting” to bring the completed homework, our Malayalam teacher in the seventh standard asked whether we ever forgot to eat our meals. Innocently, I piped up, “Teacher, once or twice, I have forgotten to eat!” That set the class laughing.

Once, the Principal sent the peon to the class to collect the school diary from me to affix a merit stamp for securing the first rank in the monthly test. The boy who got the second rank handed over his diary. Alas, I had forgotten to bring it.

Stinging blows

The peon reappeared shortly, and said the Principal had called me to his room. The Principal gave me an earful. Then ominously, he announced that notwithstanding my first rank, he would have to punish me. For the first time in my life, I got caned on my palm. The stinging blows came twice, hurting horribly. I also felt humiliated. I returned to the class quietly. Not even my best friends asked me about it. I think they knew.

In the eighth standard, I was always class first and topped in most subjects. I was the favourite of the English teacher. One day at the end of the class, he told us to bring our prose textbook next day instead of the poetry book.

The teacher came into the room and the class started. He asked all those who didn’t bring their prose books to stand up. I was the lone one! He asked me to come to the front of the class. Burning with shame, I obeyed. He asked me to hold out my hand for the caning. “You are a good student, but that does not exempt you from punishment for forgetting,” he said.

The next morning on the school bus, the teacher told me to show my palm. He wept on seeing the red welt. He said he felt terrible about caning me, but he had to be fair to all students. He hoped that I would not be forgetful anymore. If only he knew!

These punishments have not helped me. I continue to have “forgetting” episodes. But my career had not been marred by my forgetfulness. That is a miracle!

r.rema@yahoo.com

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 6:32:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-price-of-forgetting/article33201731.ece

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