You have just one more chance to prove you can do it,” my mother cautioned, forced into declaring this dire statement by my report card with its usual Es and Us.
“It’s getting good grades or saying goodbye to school forever. Let me see one more ‘U’ on your report, and I won’t pay your school fee for the next month.” With this, she flung my report card on the bed, and stamped out of my room angrily.
I sat frozen on the bed. Guided by sheer intuition, I knew without a doubt that my mother would do exactly what she had proclaimed to. Worse still, she would carry out all of it — and more — without any misgivings.
Reluctantly, I faced the fact that she wouldn’t be wrong in doing so; my grades were one of my greatest weaknesses. In monthly, revision and surprise tests, I usually failed. In finals, I managed to obtain passing marks, and get promoted to the next grade.
It wasn’t that I was completely satisfied with this bleak situation. When my mother had pressed me to obtain better marks previously, I had tried to improve my grades. In fact, I myself wanted good grades but I wasn’t willing to bid farewell to all the entertaining diversions that are scattered all around. So, it was a very half-hearted attempt on my part. Obviously, it didn’t particularly help in improving my school performance. Discouraged, I convinced myself I could not do it and, over the years, learnt to feel relief when I passed each level with below-average marks.
My mother, however, could not or would not accept it. She scolded me, grounded me, coaxed me into studying harder and cut my pocket money. When every tactic had failed, she was reduced to threatening me with the one threat she knew would work. And, this one sure did.
I threw myself in my studies with more devotion than ever before. I declined invitations to parties, get-togethers and outings. Despite my outwardly nonchalance in front of my mother, I was terrified of the daunting prospect of having to drop out of school. I barely glanced at my computer those days, let alone use it. Shunning the television totally, I immersed myself in work and kept myself going until I dropped into bed at night, exhausted.
My real challenge lay in math. I was hopeless at calculus and trigonometry, and it seemed to me as if half of the entire syllabus was dedicated to the two topics I hated most. When I approached my math teacher for help, she tried to change my perspective toward the subject. And, surprisingly, I let her. I was amazed just how much that one little thing helped. It banished my fear of flunking math no matter how much I tried, and I began understanding each technical concept gradually, taking time to absorb one completely before moving on to the next.
Days merged into weeks that passed in a blur of frantic studying until at last, the final examinations arrived. For perhaps the first time in my life, the questions in the exam made sense. As I solved each exam, a tiny seed of hope planted itself stubbornly in my unwilling heart. When the result sheet was put up on display on the notice board of our school, I summoned up enough courage to walk up to it, and check out my grades. Wobbling slightly around the knees, I hesitantly walked towards the notice board, then stopped short in surprise. Heart pounding, hands perspiring, I gaped at the two As and three Bs scrawled beside my name.
My grades blurred, then disappeared as tears stung my eyes. Swallowing the strange lump in my throat, I admitted to myself silently that miracles do happen, if only you allow yourself to pursue them. It just takes some time and focus, and a degree of belief in your abilities. Turning around to walk back to my class, I was determined never to lose hope again.