Many years ago, a young mallu Dad toiling away in the gelf was shopping for his return home. He came across a toyshop selling wooden blocks with the numbers 1-10 painted on them.
“And ideal toy to teach your youngster numbers”, the shopkeeper assured him.
The young mallu Dad’s eyes took on a far away look as he visualized his little daughter playing and learning Math and rapidly growing up to be a brilliant Accountant and helping him evade huge amounts in income tax. With such pleasant thoughts in his head and a spring in his step the young mallu Dad bought the wooden learning blocks and took a cab to the airport.
He had a pleasant flight home, except for a strange incessant urge to make a hole under his seat to retrieve the wooden number blocks from the cargo bay and teach a lesson or two to the cabin crew in in-flight hospitality.
After landing home safely (which was a miracle of sorts since he flew Air India), he opened the gift and showed it to his one-year-old daughter. She developed an instant dislike to number five and threw it out of the window. Soon she developed a dislike for number seven and it too met with a similar fate. Then she developed an instant dislike for numbers one, two, three, four, six, eight, nine and ten and they too followed suit…out of the window. The parents of the little gal looked ominously at each other. Two of their worst fears had come true.
1. They would have to pay their Income Tax like other law-abiding citizens.
2. Their daughter didn’t like wooden blocks with numbers painted on them.
That was my rather unfortunate introduction to Mathematics. Since that fateful day, I have had a love hate relationship with this subject…more of hate than love really, like 99% hate and 1% love. The one percent love that I felt towards the subject was when the Math teacher was absent and we could go out and play.
My Math teachers on the other hand, made sure that my foundation of hatred for Math would be strong and deep rooted and that I would never add, subtract, multiply or divide, even to save my own life.
Man with gun: Tell me what is 2 x 2 or I will shoot you dead.
Me: I don’t know.
Man with gun: O.k. I will give you another chance!
Man with gun: *bang*
It all started with the teacher teaching me Addition. The first sum was quite easy, even though it looked complicated.
Very simple no? The teacher beamed at us and we all beamed back. It looked so easy. And then teacher gave us homework, so that we could practice this ‘easy subject’ at home. When I took the homework home, my Dad’s developed an instant dislike towards my math’s teacher. My homework was:
Add 56455675478 and 12907563
Next day, the teacher taught us multiplication. And my very first sum was:
Very simple no? The teacher beamed at us and we all beamed back, the suckers that we were. It looked so easy!! The homework this time was:
5347585 x 3366
My Dad cursed fluently and my mom had to physically restrain him from calling a “bhai’ in Mumbai and putting a ‘supari’on the teacher.
Next I learnt Division. The first sum went thus:
1/1 = 1Quotient Remainder 0
Very simple no? The teacher beamed at us and we didn’t beam back… we looked uneasily at each other, we had learnt our lessons by now and it definitely wasn’t 'Division'. That day I took my homework to my neighbor’s house and left it there for safekeeping. As a precocious child I knew that having a jailbird for a father would damage me for life. Besides a little girl needs her Dad...to pay her bills when she will not be a little girl anymore. Even at that age I was so mature and farsighted.
After my first Math teacher, many other Math teachers came into my life and left, wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth in despair ( because corporal punishment was banned in school). Math remained an enigma to me and I was the only problem no Math teacher could ever solve. And it is because of the combined effort of these never-say-die Math teachers that I am, where I am today...an English graduate and proud of it too.
Thank you all ye Math teachers.