I hope some of you who quoted from and asked about my blog one forenoon last week are reading this! :-) If you are, thank you! I loved being there!
I am not too much of a fan of little children, never been, having taken after a favourite aunt of mine. I clarify that I do not hate them, just that I don't have it in me to naturally be all gooey with them and keep them giggling. But in the long list of life's tragedies, kids take to me in an instant. I swear I can't see why. If you know me, you would wonder too. Touchy subject that this is, I must repeat, I do not hate kids, just that, well, read the lines above.
But in another of those contradictions, I enjoy working with them immensely. Hmm...that sounded strange to my ears even. Anyways, it so happened some months ago that through a dear friend I found myself sitting in front of a room full of kids listening to them read their stories and essays. That was to do with the Bal Bhavan, part of GoI, where I was judging kids from the South zone in creative writing. The chosen ones would compete at the national levels. Those two days were good fun, I came out thinking.
Some time later, the Karnataka Bal Bhavan called me again to judge them at the state level. There were many more kids and I had some more fun. I particularly remember a little one from Shimoga, called Aarya, who was one of the most bubbly kids I have ever seen. She is the sorts who will be somebody some day. (I sound old, don't I, saying that!?)
This and that happened over the next few months until I found myself talked into giving a seminar on freelance journalism (!) for journalism students at Vivekananda College in Puttur, Dakshin Kannada. It is a very prestigious college in those parts, also where my mum, her sisters and my uncle studied. The principal is an old family friend. There is a lot of history that binds my family with that college. Plus the utter dread of giving a speech!!! I used to be on the Student Council back in school and gave dozens of seminars in college, so not many people believe me when I say I hate giving speeches. I don't have stage fright, no. It's just that I am not comfortable standing on stage and trying to give the gyaan that I don't have. Or so I thought.
Last Saturday, it was sweltering hot in Puttur. In my beautifully hand-bound notebook, I had a speech written, having decided to read from it in a worst case scenario. When I was being introduced, a student mentioned this blog and read out a line from what I have on the profile. I hadn't expected that and was highly embarrassed.
Then the moment arrived and I promised to talk for 20 mins. I went on for 40, I was told. Parents, the parents that they are, said that I was getting better at speaking. Uncle said something similar. I didn't see anyone doze off and the next speaker began by quoting from what I said. These are people with work experience more than what my age is, so I know I didn't deserve the nice things they said about me. More utter embarrassment.
But at the end of it, after being gherao-ed by students, I confessed to myself that I actually enjoyed it. There is something about talking with children and the young adults that appeals to me. I know I am not the teacher material but it would be great fun to be more involved with young minds. And that is why I see myself working with them in a greater capacity some day in the future.
A glass memento adorns my shelf now. Most Kannada dailies in that region covered it; felt weird to be on the other side of the report. One apparently mentioned that I was a yuva lekhaki, a young writer and I couldn't help but laugh at that. Some of the students took my number and promised to be in touch. I hope they do.
In this year of letting go, I think I let go of my apprehensions about public speaking.