This happened during my 5th std. School inspection is going to happen.
My science teacher who is also my class teacher entered our class in a rush. We can clearly see a sense of urgency in her face.
She informed the entire class that School inspection is coming up in next 1 week. I don't know what a School inspection is. She told that everyone should draw a chart and bring it to paste in the classroom.
She opened the Science textbook and started giving topics to each and every child as per attendance order. I'm all excited. For the first time in my life, I'm going to be part of a school inspection. My art is going to decorate the walls of my school.
I was eagerly waiting for my turn.
Gopal - Reflection
Harish - Sound Waves
Karthee - Teeth
Yes, I got my topic. I have been assigned the task of drawing 'Teeth'. Yes, teeth.
Human beings has 32 teeth. Right. That teeth. Same teeth, I need to draw!
I was expecting a bigger challenge. A more tougher challenge. But, that's ok. I need to draw a teeth now. The human teeth.
This is my first assignment. I need to prove this world who I am. Time to show my artistic skill to the world.
The teacher finished assigning tasks to all students and left the classroom. The deadline is 3 days. On the 4th day, I need to bring it to the school.
I got up from my seat with lot of proudness because someone has trusted me and has given me an assignment.
I felt like an astronomer who was shortlisted by NASA for their next Moon mission.
With the background music playing inside my ear, the one which only I can hear, the school bell rang. It is time to leave school and get in to action.
My teeth mission started.
My uncle came to pick me from school. Once I reached my home, while I was removing my slippers, I was shouting 'Mummy, Mummy...'
I came inside, quickly removed my school bag and told my mom about the important project that I has been assigned in School.
I clearly explained her all the raw materials that I need to accomplish this mission. We listed them down on a piece of paper. We made a call to my dad using our landline phone and asked him to purchase the items while coming back to home today (Thanks to the technology. I'm making some quick progress in my mission!).
My dad use to come back to home by 8.30PM or 8.45PM everyday. It is just 5.30PM. I'm looking at the clock every 5 minutes. The clock is ticking slowly. I felt like a boy who is waiting in the park for his girl friend. Excited and impatient.
The excitement and waiting took a toll on my health. I went asleep by the time dad reached home. Day-0 is over.
I woke up the next day and felt excited to see all the raw materials for my mission ready. But, it is time to go to school. I went to school, done for the day and back to home now.
Time to take my first step. I opened the chart. It is the first time, I'm working on a chart. I never thought that it will be that big. It is almost 20 times bigger than my regular notebook which I use everyday in my school. It is almost half my height.
Mastering such a big piece of paper is my first challenge.
I remembered the instruction given by my teacher. The chart should have a margin.
Wow. That's great. I decided to complete this milestone first.
The chart is so big and my scale is very small. What's the fun in it if there is no challenge?
I started drawing the margins. I was rolling, diving, jumping, sleeping, kneeling down and used all humanly possible postures to complete the margins on all four sides of a chart.
I'm done. It took me 2 hours to finish drawing the margins.
I stepped back to see the work I have done. Wow, 4 lines on 4 sides of a chart. Not very perfect. Not straight. But that's okay. What is more important is the art inside these margins and not the margins.
With all those gymnastic postures, acrobatic moves that I made for drawing the margins, I got tired and slept near the chart itself.
Day-1 is over. More importantly, I completed Milestone-1: Drawing margins.
I'm back home after a tough day at school. After drinking my routine cup of boost, it's time to immerse myself in the world of art.
It's time to bring the Picasso in you.
I opened my chart, looked into my margins and felt proud once again.
You can't pride yourself in victory when there is a bigger mission to achieve. I stopped glaring at those beautiful margins and opened the page number which my teacher marked me for my art.
I saw 3 art in that page:
- An art with single tooth
- An art with 5 or 6 tooth put together
- An inside view of one's mouth trying to cover all 32 teeth.
A decision paralysis engulfed me. Which one to draw now? My teacher only gave me the page number and topic. She did not tell me exactly which art.
Oh, my God. How am I going to make a decision now? Should I choose the easy art which is a single tooth or chose the complex one which has 32 teeth in it.
A champion always chose tougher challenges over easier ones. So, I decided to choose the 3rd art: 32 teeth.
By the time, I made the decision, I already spent 1 hour.
I started drawing the teeth, one by one. Every curve, every shape, I started to replicate. My full concentration is on the art.
Suddenly, I stopped. I got a doubt whether the original image has all 32 teeth in it. I started counting them in my book. I cannot find more than 20 (I was not aware that we need a 3D model to show all 32 teeth and it is tough to replicate it in a 2D model).
Oh my god. I'm in mid of my art work and my original art has a big mistake. It do not have all the 32 teeth. Confused by whether to go ahead or not, I'm paralysed once again.
With all these tough decisions to make, my brain got tired and I slept for the day.
Day 2 is over.
The final day before submission. My chart now has a margin and partially drawn teeth.
The clock is ticking.
An artist need creativity and time to build his masterpiece.
I'm full of creativity. But, the clock is ticking. I need to submit the art to my class teacher next day. I'm running out my time.
I had a proverb in my 5th std English book which said 'Time and tide wait for none'.
Now, being confident that time is not going to wait for me, I'm in a race against time. I brought the best in me. I'm in full flow. The teeth's are laid out one after another. There is no Colgate or Pepsodent to look at my art. If they were there, they would have sponsored me to show my art in their advertisements.
It's time for dinner. I quickly completed my dinner and back to work. It's time to colour my teeth.
I gave it white colour (Thank god, I chose a light blue chart for my artwork!).
The masterpiece is ready now. I asked my mom to roll the chart and tie it with a thread.
I went to bed while my masterpiece is waiting to be rejoiced by the world the next day.
I woke up a little earlier. Took a nice bath, dressed myself, applied oil to my hair, combed my hair properly and made sure that I'm looking in the best possible version of me.
Had breakfast and my journey to the school started in my dad's TVS 50.
My lunchbox is put in the front while I'm holding my school bag in my back, my two hands are carefully holding my artwork.
There are no siren in our vehicle. There are no security guards surrounding us. The responsibility of safeguarding my masterpiece is absolutely with me.
I need to carefully hold it against the racing wind (Even if I'm in a TVS 50), the bumpy roads and the dust in the atmosphere.
I finally reached the school on time. Myself and my masterpiece, both of us were waiting for the Science period to start.
The most expected period has come. My class teacher is inside our classroom. She is going to see all our art and appreciate us.
She started calling one by one in alphabetical order.
Akash handed over the art work to the teacher. The teacher saw the art and showed it to the entire class. The entire class goes in wow and clapping hands like crazy.
My teacher called out the the next names...
That's the first time in my life, I blamed my parents for naming me with the starting letter as 'K'.
I was waiting for my turn.
My name came. The teacher called out my name. I stood up from my bench. Took my masterpiece and proudly walked towards my teacher in slow motion and a background music in my ears.
I handed over my artwork to the teacher like a king handing over the sword to his Army head before the war.
The teacher opened my chart. She gazed over it. She took extra few seconds to look at my chart.
She lifted her eyebrows. I felt so happy. I'm sure she is impressed. I'm waiting for her to turn and show my art to the entire class. I'm waiting for my class to applaud me, applaud my art.
Time to tell the world, that the Picasso of this generation is here.
My teacher looked me into my eyes. She rotated the chart and showed it to the entire class.
I was looking at my classmates. I'm waiting for the class to go in awe.
Suddenly, everyone's opened their eyes to their maximum. They bought all their focus to my chart.
But, unfortunately they could not find the art in it. Everyone is searching for the art.
I'm a very practical guy. I love to bring reality in whatever I do.
So, in that big chart, I drew the teeth in the teeth size itself. Yes, my teeth is just 1 to 2cms in that big chart.
When my classmates found it out, the class erupted in laughter.
My teacher looked into my eyes and said something which I will never forget in my life - "Karthee, unaku drawing varadhu. Nee ini drawing try pannadey" (Karthee, drawing is not for you. Do not try to draw anything in future).
She said this and told "Rajashekar, take this chart with you and draw teeth at the backside of the chart". Rajashekar is the 1st rank holder in my class and a very good friend of mine.
I came back to my bench disappointed. The eyes are filled with tears. The background music stopped. Only my teacher word is echoing in my ears. She told me I couldn't draw.
All students trust their teachers. When a teacher say something, the student believes it. I believed my teacher. I believed that I cannot draw.
I started avoiding any drawing assignments. To draw animal and plant cells during my 8th std is like hell. It will take me days to get it done.
I will skip a simple drawing which will take just 5 mins to draw in exams and start answering questions which will take me 20 mins of writing a big essay.
I decided to choose 'Computer Science' group in Plus-1 because 'Biology' group will involve a lot of work to do with diagrams.
Drawing margins on my unruled notebook is the most complicated work for me. I could not draw a straight margin because my teacher told me that I cannot draw. I believed her.
When they introduced 'Integration' in Maths in 11th std, I could not draw the integration symbol which looked like a big piece of art to me. I could not draw it because my teacher told me that I cannot draw.
When my family asked me to take 'Mechanical Engineering' after my Plus-2, I avoided it because it involves doing lot of drawing about machines.
Despite joining 'Metallurgical Engineering' (in Govt College, Salem), I could not avoid the 'Engineering Drawing' subject in my second semester.
What? A full subject dedicated for drawing to become an engineer?
I use to bribe my friends with tea, biscuits to get my engineering drawing assignments done. Somehow, I cleared my 'Engineering Drawing' exam.
I joined an IT Company. Whenever, I try to draw something on whiteboard during a brainstorming session, my colleagues have a lot of fun looking at my drawings.
My sweet teammates at Team Everest use to take pictures of my whiteboard drawings and even blackmail to make it public 🙂.
All this happened, because my teacher told me that I cannot draw. And, I believed her.
A teacher can make or break you. This is a story of a teacher who killed the artist in me. (I have a story of another teacher who made me realise my full potential. That's a story for another day)
If you are a teacher, choose your words wisely.
If you are a student, choose your teacher wisely.
Because, a teacher can make or break the Picasso in you.
About the Author
I'm Karthee Vidya, founder & first volunteer of Team Everest, a non profit organisation which I founded in 2006 when I'm fresh out of engineering. For 8 years (2006 to 2014), I worked in Cognizant.
I quit my high paying job 5 years back to promote volunteering in India. Check my complete journey here.
My dream is to inspire every Indian to Volunteer.
Today, we have 15,000 volunteers and helping 40,000 children a year. You can know more about our work in www.teameverest.ngo
Interested to volunteer& teach kids? Click here to Volunteer.
Ready to sponsor a kid? Click here to make a small donation or be a monthly donor.