He looked at everyone sitting in the class. Some had not heard the teacher ask the question. Some were pressing their heads as if the answers would jump out of their mouth. Some in the front of the class as usual had raised their hands as if they were the only people the teacher came to the class for. Sometimes he even felt that these kids in the front knew so much more than the teachers and they were here just for fun.
He knew he was not dumb, but he also knew that He had no clue of some of the things that was being taught. The fact that he had never got up in the class room and embarrassed himself with any questions leave alone attempting to answer what was asked, he fondly built a resentment to the front benchers. A few attempts to be part of that pack had fallen flat on the ground in the first week itself and he had to spend the first trimester begging and praying to move to somewhere in the back where he can be unnoticed and alone.
The classes continued and no one noticed a frail looking backbencher who had nothing different or new knowledgable to contribute to the class. The parade was run by the front benchers holding the flags and the real trouble makers dancing along with the teacher often refereeing the dancers to be more controlled. He was more like a member in the parade who had nothing more to do that the bystander on the pavement. May be the bystander at least had the activity of enjoying the parade. He was so insignificant that ants walked by without noticing his existence.
Life was not bad, no one thought what was going on in his mind, he was well dressed, had a happy family and he was not that bad at studies. He did have friends with whom he played in the recess and evenings near the house, just what anyone would call a normal kid. He was not sure if he liked it, but not being the age where choices can be exercised, life kept moving on.
Years after school looking back he wondered what it was to be just an ‘also ran’. The concept of ‘also ran’ was created so the ones who reach first can rejoice and make the rest feel bad. But it would be wrong to put people who are not part of the race term as an ‘also ran’. He was never part of any race. Some live the life like a race and win and loose some of them in various points in life. Some just don’t take part in the race and move on. What was better for him?, he was still not sure.
As he played around with his memories and thoughts he felt a pat on his shoulder and he looked back; A man in his seventies sat behind him in the train. The man smiled at him and called him by name. Not wanting to embarrass himself showing that he did not recognize, he too returned the smile. The man leaned forward and said “I remember you, you are that silent kid who always sat in one of the back benches.”
He was surprised, but hiding it he rushed his mind to twenty years before and looked an all known faces in the class, Slowly he could see the man’s face twenty years younger that what it was now. The man was the teacher who taught them poetry for two months while he was in his seventh grade.
He came closer and said “I always liked what you wrote, but the curriculum was more tuned to process and system and less on imagination and so did not really acknowledge you in front of the class, and I have always felt bad for that.” The man smiled and continued with a pat on his shoulder “Today I want to give you a ten out of ten for every year of your education.” He got up and touched his teacher’s feet.
“You might think no one notices you, but the world looks at you if you are good at something, find that and follow it….” His teacher said and sat back in his chair