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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Even If I Could Do Them All Over Again, I Wouldn't Do These Any Differently

Warning; emo post ahead. Feel free to leave if not in the mood.


Back when I was schooling, I used to play cricket for the college team. All five week days after school, often Saturday mornings as well, were dedicated to practice. This was when I was playing for the U13 team, and there was a bunch of friends in my team who lived in the same neighbourhood as I did. So every day, after practice we'd return home together, on foot since the school wasn't more that 20 minutes away from home. On our way, there was this small 'kadey' where they sold all kinds of stuff which included those 'ice packs'. Not ice cream, just those stuff came in small polythene bags which were priced at fifty cents apiece back then if I remember correctly. Those days, pocket money never exceeded five rupees and we were lucky to see a ten rupee note.

Anyway, everyday, we'd collect all our pocket money on our way back home and buy loads of those ice packs and enjoy them all the way home. But just buying stuff wasn't adventurous enough for us, I think, and one day, one of the guys shoplifted one of those while the unsuspecting good old uncle at the shop was attending to something else - he totally trusted

us for we being kids, schooling at a highly reputed school and knowing most of our parents. Not getting caught was so cool, and this was our proud secret for some time and we continued to steal just for the sake of it. Embarrassing, I know, but thinking back, I don't think we did that for any other reason than just for the sake of it, for wanting to do something rebellious if you call it that, but still it was stealing. And shameful. Luckily - yes, luckily - we got caught eventually. I don't want to go into the details except for the fact that we were caught red handed and that we were shit scared. We were so sure that our parents would be informed, so will be our school and the embarrassment, not to mention the ass whipping, would have been unbearable.

But the old fella at the shop was a wise guy, and he knew better than to complain to our parents or the school. He knew that it would not have helped, so instead he just chose to forgive us. His only words were, "Sons, I trust you fellas not to do that again!"

Stealing I never did again, to this day, and I'm forever grateful to that wise old man for teaching us a lesson a thousand punishments would not have. Respect, sir!


When I was still a kid, my English sucked big time. I could hardly put a sentence together, a children's book contained far too many words I had never heard, you had to speak sentences containing not more than five words for me to understand and speaking it was just beyond me. Back in the day, I usually got marks over 80 for every subject in term tests, except for English. It was a cause for celebration if I got a 50, come to think of it. Simply, English was not my thing.

But one day something happened that changed all that forever. It was when I was in Grade 7, and I was the class monitor for that term. Keeping the class quiet if there was a free period was one of many responsibilities I had, but hell I myself was never really one to stay very quiet at that age. So this day, there was no teacher in the class and I was happily chatting - no, shouting - with my friends about, well, whatever it is that the 12 year olds used to chat about those days. Suddenly, a prefect appeared out of nowhere and I was summoned to be inquired so as to why the whole class was making such a big noise when it was supposed to be quiet. Of course I did not know that that's what he asked me about, because he spoke to me in English! Me being me, not understanding a thing he was saying, just stared at him probably like a retard until he realized that something was wrong. But instead of switching to Sinhala, probably he thought I should be humiliated further for the crime I committed, he summoned another guy and repeated to him what he said earlier and asked to translate it to me. The embarrassment was just too much to handle. I remember most of the classmates were sniggering behind me, and I do not blame them for that because we were just kids and we didn't know what to laugh at and what not to.

But that one incident made me think. Once I got over the embarrassment, I was thinking that nobody's really going to help me if I wanted to learn it, and that it is all up to me if I wanted to make a change. Learn, I wanted to do, and thus started the long and hard hours of self learning. When I look back, I can fondly recall those long, frustrating hours I spent by myself putting the hard yards. I started with children's books with a dictionary in hand, and started reading them. At first, it was painful. It took well beyond ten fifteen minutes to get through just one page. But I was making progress. Slowly but surely. Also, I made up my mind to speak it whenever the opportunity was presented, ignoring the people who looked down on me when I was speaking such crap English. Luckily I was courageous enough to keep going. I just never gave up, and I just kept learning every day.

And today, it is so satisfactory to see that all those years of hard work had paid off better than I ever imagined. I don't claim that I know everything today, in fact my English is still far from being perfect, but if I stop being modest for a moment, I believe I'm good at it. How far have I come.

As for that prefect dude, while I pity his ignorance and insensitivity, I also thank him for his stupidity. If it wasn't for him, if he didn't humiliate me so much, I would never have been so determined to learn English. He, unknowingly, presented me a challenge that I accepted so seriously, to the point of being insane. But that incident also taught me to put myself in other people's shoes, so to speak, in situations like that. To this day, I have never ever laughed at, or even made a sarcastic comment about anyone's ineptness at English. Not being fluent at it is not something to be ashamed of, I think, while you should be if you can't at least speak your own mother tongue. I have since learned to admire, respect and help all those people who are not so good at it, but who try to learn, who are brave enough to try.

For that, I thank that clueless soul.


Despite spending almost all my time to not study but for other things while in my Advanced Level classes, I got selected to a local university after my first shot at A/Ls. University of Peradeniya no less. A privilege that only a very little percentage of students who sit for A/Ls get to enjoy. Yet for some stupid reasons that I can't believe today, I did not want to go there! I wanted to pursue a career in IT so I want to study in a more professional institution, a BSc is not a professional qualification but merely a few letters in front of my name and universities are stupid anyway, were few of my reasons. How very wrong I was!

Luckily I loved my mom, and I still do, very very much and after many days of reasoning, threats, pleadings and what not finally I decided to go with it just to satisfy her. Looking back, I dread to think what I would have been had I decided not to go there. That university, the four years I spent there, taught me a lot more than any other place, person or a book has ever taught me and I'm forever grateful to my mom for opening my eyes that day. Bless her, she has some wisdom!

I made a bunch of great friends, we had many great times together, we had our fair share of disputes, and I learned a lot about people - a lot more than I learned about Bernoulli's equations or Fourier transformations. There were all kinds of people, and they behaved in all kinds of ways you can imagine. A true cross section of the society, if there ever was one. I learned how to deal with people, how things doesn't always go the way you want, and how to keep your head held high when all things suggested you shouldn't. It taught me the value of humans, the value of friends, and most of all it taught me not to take what you have for granted. Those four years truly made me a different man, and a better one too, I would like to think.

Thank you mom, for making me the man who I am today!


  1. i like.

    scary aint it how your life could have been if these random people never crossed your path.
    and funny how they will never know what they have done for you.

  2. Thanks Delilah!
    And I too have often wondered about that.

    For instance, that shop owner must have long forgotten what he's done and will never know the impact he had on a bunch of little kids.

    And that prefect dude will never know that silly little kid who couldn't understand a word he said went on to write a blog of his own.

  3. oh man, u jst inspired me..
    :D MS

  4. Anon, thanks!
    Glad to hear that really...